I recently stubbed my toe in a rather spectacular way (involving a broken bathroom door knob and a Beckham-style booting). It REALLY hurt and I thought I had broken it (I’m still not convinced I hadn’t as it continued to hurt for about 10 days – I digress!). But, my four babies were in bed so I found myself thinking “If I can just get upstairs to bed, I am at least upstairs if one of them needs me”.
Getting upstairs was harder than I’d thought and involved having to limply hobble on the side of my foot so as to get to the stairs, then sit on the stairs and use my arms & ‘good’ foot to pull / push myself up each step. I then had to decide whether I REALLY needed the loo before bed as it would involve a diversion of an extra four or five metres (approximately equal to 15-20 extra winces, “owwwww”s and “for f*ck’s sake”s….) I decided I could hold ’til morning.
I managed to get into bed but had to stick my foot out the side of the bed so the covers wouldn’t touch the offending toe (at this point I actually thought it was two toes involved, but it was the next day that I realised it was just one, shouting very loudly!). I had to lie on my left side as any other position made it throb even more.
It was at this point, as I lay there in agony, that I realised that I wasn’t upset about being damaged / in pain, but rather I was absolutely furious that this had happened because I just don’t have time for injury or illness! And then I started panicking about what I would do if I couldn’t drive in the morning – so I instantly started making in-head plans about who I needed to phone first thing to make alternative arrangements, if needs be.
At 5am, when I was again awake, in pain, I started trying to do practice clutch-pressing, trying to work out if I’d be ok to do the school / nursery / work run whilst mentally calculating how many days’ leave I have left and whether, if I took a day, I’d have enough left for the summer holidays….
And then it struck me like a bell – this is what it means to be “Charlotte After Children”. “Charlotte Before Children” would have gone to a doctor / A&E straight after it happened; she would have had an x-ray, her foot bound and been prescribed strong painkillers; she’d have had time & spare leave to take a few days to rest her foot as inevitably instructed. “Charlotte AC” took herself to bed and used the pain-induced insomnia to mentally re-schedule the next week while pressing an imaginary clutch!