When days go from bad to worst

Tears and hysteria. And so it began. A bad day. Beastly. The shittiest. A day in which everything turned to custard. Went pear-shaped. To the dogs. Crap followed crap. Screw-up bred screw-up.

It should be a very distant last-year-sometime memory by now, and yet I'm still dissecting it. Element by element. The anatomy of a bad day.

The previous night I had written until midnight. There was an early deadline to meet. Self-imposed in order that I could take the next day off to go to Wellington. Sleep, though, was in short supply.

My daughter called out at 3am. The dog barked at 4am. My husband turned on his reading light at 5am. I gave in. Got up. To go over my industry of the night before. It was utter twaddle. A pile of bunk. I slashed and I burned.

The kids got up. Please, I said, I'm almost done; just give me five minutes. They lay down on the floor at my feet. Pleaded to stay home from school. Kicked each other. Please, I said. Stop, I said. They pinched each other.

One cried. The other cried. They screamed. I screamed. Pushed send. I texted my son's friend's mother to check if he was walking to school. There was no reply. I assumed he wasn't. Decided we would drive.

Teeth. Sunblock. Hair. Oh blow. Nits. Again. My own scalp itched. I raced home to walk the dog before the man who was coming to fix the fence so the dog can't escape any more turned up. On the way to the park she escaped.

Chased a bird across the path of some oncoming traffic. Cars screeched to a halt. I screamed. Bad dog! I rushed home for the tradesman.

There was a text, sent an hour ago but for some reason only just received. My son's friend was walking. Oh no. I felt sick. Texted back. Apologised profusely. It's OK, she said. She'd been driving past the corner on which they usually meet and seen him waiting. He'd only stood there for half an hour. I apologised profusely.

No tradesman. I picked up five dog poos from around the back lawn and replanted 55 dwarf mondo grasses the dog had dug up. I hung out the washing. Discovered someone had left a bag of lollies in their pocket. I put the washing back in the machine.

The tradesman showed up. It can't be done, he said. Please, I said. Surely there must be a way. Well perhaps if we do this, he said. And dug up 372 dwarf mondo grasses.

The doctor's receptionist rang. The doctor had refused to write a repeat prescription for the hormone cream I wanted for my bad moods. Apparently it didn't work. Fine! I slammed down the phone.

Toodle pip, called the tradesman. All done. I went outside. There was mud from one end of the drive to the other. The dog tracked it through the house. I screamed and washed the floor.

My daughter's class was having a picnic. I was flying to Wellington that night. I calculated I had 30 minutes to make something and get there. We would have about 36 minutes at the picnic before I had to drop them to their grandparents.

I still had to pack my bag. My husband popped home. Could I possibly drop him in town? He had a meeting followed by drinks and didn't want to take the car. I agreed. Reluctantly. We had words en route. Parted badly.

I got in the wrong lane. Ended up on the North Shore. I screamed. I now had about two minutes to make something and get to the picnic. A packet of chocolate fingers and a punnet of strawberries from the dairy.

Other mothers pulled out pikelets and pinwheel scones. Homemade gluten-free, dairy-free brownies. I sat on a strawberry. My son ambled over, wearing one shoe. I checked his bag. He was also missing his lunchbox. I spent the next 25 minutes combing the playground. I came up empty-handed.

Looked at my watch. I had to be at the airport in just under an hour. Time to go, I said brightly. My daughter screamed. Back home the dog had eaten three bromeliads. The kids tramped mud through the house. I screamed.

Threw some stuff in a bag. Threw the kids in the car. Threw them at their grandparents. Sped to the airport. Parked the car and took a deep breath. I'd made it.

I tried the self check-in kiosk. It didn't work. I queued for assistance. The attendant wandered off. I queued at another desk. They fixed the problem. Sent me back to the kiosk.

My flight was now closed for check-in. I took a deep breath. You'll have to see if they'll check you in at the gate, they told me. I gave the man on the desk my best smile, explained my predicament, waited for him to fix it. No, he said.

What do you mean, I said. No, he said, I mean no. And then I cried. Loudly and embarrassingly. There are people worse off, I told myself. I tried to ring my husband. My mother. Anyone. My phone was dead. I'd missed my flight and my phone was dead. And so it ended how it had begun. Tears and hysteria.

Sunday Magazine