I am beginning to discover that buying a house by remote control is not the least stressful option. After a week of four hours a night sleep and a weekend spent driving children all over Queensland, I found myself at the end of my tether yesterday and was more interested in running away to Peru, sans kids, than in trying to choose our new home via internet.
My sister, Miriam, has been absolutely wonderful, taking photos and video of the houses that she has been to see with Rupert and sending them for me to look at. But of course, even with today's amazing technology, you don't really get the full picture. Sometimes you get more - leading to conversations with one's husband like this, at 7:30 yesterday morning, teenagers champing at the bit beside you, wanting lifts down to the school bus.
“We have to make a decision within the next 24 hours.”
“Well, this new one you've suddenly decided is our dream house - it looks like it's on a very busy street.”
“Oh no, there's hardly any traffic.”
“But the photos make it look like Car City.”
“Oh no, there would only have been three cars there.”
“I counted twelve just in one picture – parked along both sides of the street and on the pavement.”
“Oh. I didn't notice any.”
“And what's the commute like for Sam?”
“Oh it's only five miles to the nearest bus stop for school. He can bike that easily.”
“What's the road like?”
“Yes, the road that he will be biking in the dark at 4pm on a winter's day.” Visions of my Australian son, negotiating winding English roads in the icy winter evenings....
“Oh, I expect it will be fine.”
Convincing much? The trouble is that I haven't had a chance to talk to anyone about all this and don't know if I'm being perfectly reasonable, or whether I'm just too tired and emotional and, sitting looking out at the bright sunshine, the parrots chirruping in the trees, my darling and soon to be ex dog at my feet, I am making mountains out of molehills.
The day didn't get much better. I had someone come to give me a moving quote a couple of hours later – which meant a panic stricken cleaning of the house first, since he had to go into every room, of course and look in all the cupboards. But I did it and I was managing quite well until he asked whether we would be taking the dog kennel with us....
But the poor man was very sweet and understanding. “Let it go, let it go, don't hold it back any more,” he said. Or words to that effect. Then he went on: “Don't worry, you'll adjust soon. The kids will adjust. You don't have high school kids, do you?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do – they're all high school age.”
“Oh, I see, because they're the ones who typically commit suicide after a big move like this. You wouldn't believe the suicide rate.” As he talked I could see the haunted look in his eye – an expression I recognise from my own experience, the “I-can't-believe-I-am-saying-this-but-I-can't-seem-to-stop” look.
Then came teaching, followed by the usual round of driving kids to ballet and shopping and back home because I had forgotten my purse and then out again to soccer and then back to ballet and home and then out to pick up errant son and argue with errant son re what he was prepared to eat, versus what I had prepared for him to eat.
Then, leaving the kids to fend for themselves, out to rehearsal. Back at 10:30, exhausted, to find kids in bed, but food and plates scattered all over the kitchen bench, the table, sink piled high, dishwasher full, chickens waiting to be put to bed, cats who hadn't been fed, husband wanting to skype again on dodgy connection.
Stormed up to bed at midnight, feeling very sorry for myself and wondering what price I could get for the kids if I sold them on ebay and found a tray of chocolate cupcakes on the bed. “Thank you for everything Mum.”
Might keep them for a while yet.