A crazy lady lives down my way. She’s alright, not dangerous or anything, but definitely a little crazy. Most mornings there is a mad flurry of activity in her house followed by a demented rush to herd her kids into the car and off to school. You should see her, or rather you should hear her sometimes. I’m not judging, really I’m not, but lawks, I don’t know who’s louder; her or the kids.
There’s a crazy dog in the mix as well. Gorgeous creature who seems to know the lie of the land and at the last minute refuses to go into the house when it’s time to leave. The kids, all still shouting and roaring over something or other, are in the car and the crazy lady rushes back into the house. She’s still shouting too but this time it’s not “get into the fekin car. We’ll be late!” this time it’s “treat, treat”” at the dog. Maybe that’s the dog’s name.
Finally they’re off and all is grand until they reach the roundabout where the toast slides off the kids’ plates and onto the floor. And they all start shouting and roaring again.
One time she yelled “you’re welcome!” after a lady who just waltzed through the door she had held open for her. She often shouts at other drivers who don’t indicate and use their park anywhere lights. She’s not too fond either, of the ones who beep at traffic lights when things aren’t moving fast enough for them. She’ll say, “Take your time on him now. Let him honk his fekin horn! None of us are getting any faster. Arrive alive is the name of the game.” That day one of her kids asked “Is he a bollix, Mammy?” She laughed and said no, and don’t be listening to me when I’m talking to myself.
The crazy lady takes them all swimming. They go a lot as the older two have lessons and she gets in with the two smaller ones. She usually gets out first to shower and be half ready to help the older ones when they finish. This particular day the crazy lady was standing near the showers shouting one of her kids names at the top of her lungs. I remember it. She was trying not to panic and ignoring the man who was looking at her with his gob hanging open. There was no sign of her boy in the water and the swimming instructors were sitting at the side. Then the child appeared behind her. Where he had gone into the bathroom. Crazy lady started yelling again, giving out to her boy because he frightened the life out of her when he didn’t answer. She didn’t give a toss who saw or heard. Especially the man who was still looking at her with his gob hanging open.
At the supermarket the crazy lady seems to be a magnet for lost baby shoes. Tiny little things, that appear on the floor in front of her in the dairy aisle. She walks the shop until she finds the owner. She always feels like putting the shoe onto the baby’s foot just to make sure as these things, for the size of them, are desperately expensive. And one shoe is no good to anybody. Even a little child who is probably still being carried round half the time. She would like to be found with a lost shoe if the situation were reversed.
Another time she cried. At the check-out in the supermarket. Her baby was just 6 weeks old and he was crying too. Her second oldest was standing in a pool of his own body waste, shrieking for help. No one appeared to wipe the mess off the floor and the tearful crazy lady grabbed a handful of baby wipes and bent to do the job herself. The young girl at the check-out looked on, completely out of her depth, not having a clue what to do.
She does a lot of shouting this lady. She cries some too. But I’ve also seen her laugh. She laughs a lot actually. She laughs at crazy things. Their dog, her kids on the trampoline, the baby when he barrels into her legs for a hug and at all the funny things her boys come out with. Sometimes she laughs when she really should be giving out to them, like when they swear.
The way she sometimes handles things may not be ideal, but she does the best she can. Her bark can be worse than her bite but you can never be too sure either. Sometimes she’s not sure herself!
When she thinks of the teenage years up ahead, she gets a tight feeling in her chest. She knows just shouting and roaring won’t cut it then. It worries her but she reckons if she manages to let them know that all they have to do is shout at her long and loud enough, she will eventually hear them and listen. She’s only one woman after all and there are four of them. Sometimes she can’t see the wood for the trees and needs a little help. She needs them to have a little patience and wait till she is finished meeting the demands of one before she can help the other.
The crazy lady is only human. Only a woman. Only a mother. Only feeling her way through the dark.
She is only me.