Most of the time our life rumbles along quite uneventfully. We have our routines, our places to be and our things we like to do. We have our mealtimes and our naptimes, our playdates and our appointments. We have our fine balance beautifully managed.
So it comes as a shock to occasionally be reminded just how fine this balance actually is. It seems the slightest alteration or disruption can cause our measured poise to become dangerously wobbly!
This last week or two, I've been having some work done in the house. It's nothing major - just some decorating and general fixing up - but after only a few days I began to feel a dangerous edge of hysteria creeping into my voice at the most unexpected times.
To tell the truth, the work hasn't caused all that much disruption. Only one room is out of action, although there have been a few days when doors, stair spindles etc. were not to be touched! My good friend who is doing the work could not be more considerate - he cleans up magnificently after each day's work, is very tolerant of the boys, and is careful to keep any tools, paint, etc. our of their way, so certainly nothing to complain about there.
But a lot of things aren't where they are supposed to be. The contents of a bookcase are stacked up on the kitchen counter where I normally fold and arrange my laundry. There are several boxes of items stored on my bedroom floor. There has been a dismantled table strewn around the kitchen for over a week which has had to be moved from place to place every time I wanted to open a cupboard or get into the freezer - this has now gone to the tip, thankfully. In addition, the central heating chose this exact week to go on the blink and only deliver the very coldest water.
I was fairly sure I was managing this quite well - after all, what's a few books piled up in the kitchen? How serious an inconvenience can it be to have to boil a kettle when you want a wash? It's not as though we're living in a caravan in the garden while our house undergoes major reconstruction (yes, I've seen Grand Designs!!).
But actually, it turned out that even this low-level infringement of our routine was enough to have me teetering on the very pointy edge of that knife. Some time during last week I had to go shopping with a friend to look at a few new bits for the house - a sink, some taps, some cupboard doors, a couple of new internal doors and so on.
At every stage I was completely useless. Did I want this sink or that one? This door or that one? Did I want co-ordinating worktop or contrasting? To every one of these questions, my answer was "........" until, after about an hour of being completely incapable of telling one kitchen sink from another, I was in genuine danger of bursting into tears at B&Q!
I'm so thankful for good friends who are happy just to look at the mess your brain is in, tell you what you need and offer to go back another day, buy it and transport it to your house.
Anyway, my boiler is fixed now, most of the painting is done, the out-of-action room looks like it might be back in action tomorrow (when I will be delighted to finally tackle the project of re-organising the furniture that I have been procrastinating about for months) and soon the focus of work will move to the kitchen, which is a room I make a lot less use of to be honest!
Balanced is almost restored.