Róisín Ingle on . . . moanvember


Brrrr. Ouf. And also: ouch. The soundtrack to Moanvember. I woke up the other morning to find my calves had completely seized up. “My calves have completely seized up,” I said, with hope in my voice, to the person I live with who happens to have magic fingers and a qualification in massage. There was silence. Tumbleweed blew through the bedroom and bits of it stuck in my hair.

“I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t been doing any exercise lately” I mused, the muscles like rocks in the backs of my legs. “Maybe it’s because you haven’t been doing any exercise lately?” I think is what he said, but I couldn’t hear him because I had put two pillows over my head and was imagining myself on an exotic island listening to the distant sounds of a kettle drum and ice clinking in tall glasses. Ahhh.

The man on the radio is talking about depression. Sometimes it feels as though everyone on this quixotic island is talking about depression. Having it. Keeping it from the door. Awareness is important and it’s good to talk and better out than in and all that, but I lie in bed and worry that it might be catching. But this is sore calves and lethargy, not depression. I burrow deeper in the duvet.

Usually, I like this time of year. I light a fire, twisting the newspapers into home-made fuel, and then when it doesn’t light because my technique is terrible I get a Bord na Móna Fire In A Bag and feel virtuous for at least trying. I dig out the stash of tiny candles, arrange them around the house until it feels like a holy place.

I get out my vast collection of opaque tights and sing hosannas about the fact that now I can wear them every day without people going “are you not hot in those tights?” I wear opaque tights all year round, as a general rule. I never understand when I go into certain shops to get more and it’s July and they give me quizzical looks and say: “It’s summer. We don’t stock opaque tights in summer”, as though wearing them is a seasonal thing and not a valid life choice.

I’m not usually one to look back, but I was in such a different place last Moanvember. I’d just walked my first and last marathon. I was looking forward to my reward, a weekend in New York. My body was lighter, more supple, less achy. I was winning.

And now I’m supposed to be in training for a 10km run with my sister, our own little made up event, except I’m not. I keep putting on my runners and standing by the door and peering out into the gloom. I feel like I’m losing. I keep thinking: Tomorrow. I’ll be able for it then. Tomorrow.

I’m not usually one to complain but while I’m at it: Ouf. My lower back. It hurts. This is probably because I share my bed with three other people. It doesn’t start out like that. At bedtime the children go to sleep in their own bed, like normal people, but at around 3am they arrive in to our crib, making demands on the duvet, complaining about being on the edge, leaving elbow marks in my rib cage.

Yes, I bought the bed while I was pregnant, a deliberately huge one, anticipating all those baby and toddler snuggles. I just didn’t expect so many middle of the night Junior Infant snuggles. And yes, I’ve seen Super Nanny. Inhaled pretty much every episode. Still, here we are. Ouch.

I know somebody who doesn’t even let their children in their bed when they are sick. “Rules are rules are rules,” she says. I thought I was going to be that parent, but it turns out I am not. I am the parent that is too desperate to get back to sleep to march them back to their beds in the middle of the night.

I meet a man who tells me not to worry, that his eight-year-old son doesn’t even begin the night in his own bed, he point blank refuses to sleep alone. Then he adds a cheerful “It’s all ahead of you.” I don’t return his smile.

Last night I lay on my belly on the sofa and counted my blessings to distract myself from the anxiety setting up shop in my belly. Then I felt a pair of warm hands on my calves, moving in a way that was just on the right side of painful. Ahhh. I closed my eyes, let the gratitude wash over me. The next morning I put on my runners, opened the door and visualised myself running down the road, free, unfettered.

And I thought to myself: Soon. In a while. Tomorrow.


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