I'm gradually coming to understand that although in my mind I should be achieving more things for God - which is in itself a dodgy concept, methinks - it's ok that every day is a struggle to get things done. The stress of trying to achieve coupled with the guilt of not having achieved anything much is ridiculous, so by way of processing for myself and sharing with you, here is an example of how ridiculously bad we are/ how ridiculously difficult Ukraine can be.
In two sleeps Beth will wake up and leap upon the necks of her grandparents. Sim will wake up and vomit upon the necks of said Grandparents. This is very, very exciting and I have planned a lovely menu and we need to pop to the local supermarket ten minutes down the road and buy groceries.
In England I could do this by myself - bit stressful with two tiny ones but completely possible to hop in the car, pop to Tescos and get enough food for the next few days. Here, however...
Step 1: Decide to go to Metro (Tesco equivalent). John goes to load the van up with a weeks worth of rubbish - we have no trash collection so we drive our own stinky business into some bins and get shouted at, but it's hijack other peoples' bins or burn the rubbish, so we brave the angry ladies who guard the bins. Loading the van takes 20 minutes. There's a lot of bags.
Step 2: While John does the bins change the baby's nappy. Dress baby in three layers plus hat. Do all this while engaging fully with, and being emotionally available for, the toddler.
Step 3: John comes back in covered in snow, panicking that the van has frozen into one solid lump of ice. No windows or doors will open. John goes back outside looking grim, wielding tools.
Step 4: Baby is cross because is too hot, so carry baby on one hip while finding toddler's snow boots, snow trousers, coat, hat and gloves. Today is the first day of snow so everything is buried. Pull numerous muscles contorting self into bottom of cavernous wardrobe without dropping/ breaking the baby.
Step 5: John re-enters house looking distraught, can only open one door of the van but has managed to get it started and brought it round to the front of the house. He grabs car seats and runs out into what is now a blizzard.
Step 6: Twenty minutes have passed, place angry baby in car seat and rock him with one foot while prizing toddler into multiple layers. She is beside self with excitement/ fear re snow and keeps trying to escape out of the front door.
Step 7: Baby is screaming for a nap. Frantically rock baby while toddler watches daddy scraping a cm thick ice covering off of the windscreen.
Step 8: Baby falls asleep. John scoots in, grabs toddler (who was on her way out anyway, down the perilous icy concrete steps) and runs to the van. Grab own coat, phone, keys, boots, hat, scarf, intentionally and absolutely avoid looking in the mirror, exit house. John screams through the snow that the baby has awoken and to hurry up.
Step 9: Slip and nearly kill self on the steps. Remember that these are not your good winter boots.
Step 10: Trek through snow, find van door loosened, clamber in, sit down in the front, twist around and shake rattle in baby's face while shoving snacks into the toddler's hands just to shut her up. 'I want to go now mummy' 'whats daddy doing mummy?' 'mummy I want daddy to drive now' etc.
Step 11: This has taken about 45 minutes. Realise this. Despair.
Step 12: John climbs into the driver's seat, turns to you and proclaims 'one of the tires is burst'. You discuss this. You conclude that when a team mate borrowed the van yesterday to pick up some orphans he must have driven through a savage pot hole and burst it without realising. You both stare at each other, panic stricken. Then your fabulously manly husband shrugs and says 'I'll go outside and fix it'. So he does, in the whirling snow, standing in mush, while you do a weird rocking the baby in a stationary fixed in place car seat thing. He goes back to sleep after 15 minutes. You don't stop rocking him. You will never stop rocking him. With your free hand you continue to bribe the impatient, strapped in toddler with bread sticks.
Step 13: John climbs back in to the car, like an angry winter yeti, and mutely starts the van up. You drive up your dirt track, finally facing the front and hoping the baby doesn't wake up.
Step 14: Arrive on Vinnitsa's city limits, see Police preparing to stop a motorist. Pray very hard that it's not you (you don't have legit license plates because the factory that makes the plates is in the east and thus has shut down so the van isn't actually legal right now but there's nothing you can do about that but wait and go back every week) and breathe again when it's not you. Take a left turn and wend way through muddy snow to the bins, nearly crash with man who is texting while reversing. Escape catastrophe. John unloads the trash, it takes three trips but at least the angry lady of the bins isn't there to shake her fist at him this time. He may by now have frostbite.
Step 15: Reverse out of the bin area, the baby is still asleep. Drive to Metro. This only takes ten minutes, park up and breathe. You made it! Your husband is amazing! You are a terrible mother who didn't even pick the rock salt off the bread sticks!
Step 16: Sit in the car and debate further action. If you take the baby out into the snow now he will wake up, and will not stay content in his car seat (you're not allowed buggies in Metro so instead have to have two trolleys - one for the food and one with baby and car seat inside. The toddler sits in the food one, not in a seat but just in the trolley and you pile canned goods around her until she gets annoyed and wants to walk i.e. run off while you try to find olives that aren't stuffed with fish) and as it's taken such a long time to get to the shop he will need a feed when he wakes up. Obviously one does not feed one's baby in public here (grrrr) so you decide that you should just sit in the car for a few more minutes to let him sleep and then wake him up, feed him in the car and then go shop. Joy.
Step 17: Toddler is quivering with fury re STILL STRAPPED IN CAR so you leave husband and baby in car and walk around the freezing car park. She is dressed for snow and loves it. You're wearing stupid boots. The van's horn toots and you rush back panicking that the baby has woken up/ exploded but actually husband just sat on horn, somehow, by accident.
Step 18: You tire of waiting, unstrap baby (toddler eating more bread sticks because it's actually lunchtime by now) and feed him. Strap him, protesting, back into sodding car seat. Haul family into shop. Continue task.
It took and hour and a half to get into the shop, maybe more.
This is why we're not good at achieving things. This is why my dream of being an independent mum type who pops to shops or does other normal ordinary non difficult things while husband has normal job tasks in other places...isn't likely to happen. We are at capacity, beyond what we can handle, permanently stressed, all the time. Life is stupid here. Partly because we're stupid, partly because we understand nothing and partly because extreme weather makes things difficult.
Ok so Sim is being grumpy so I must relieve the husband.