It took me days to work out how to buy a stamp. I eventually found out online, that you had to go to this thing called a Post Shop. I found the address, drove up and down the road for half an hour, spotting nothing, and in desperation went into the police station to ask for help (on the same road). The young lad behind the desk said I was his easiest customer all day, and that it wasn't on the road at all, but in the nearby shopping mall. So I went along there, and then spent a desperate half hour trying to work out the difference between prepaid envelopes and stamps proper, and wondering if I had filled out the address right.
Because the letter I was trying to send really mattered, it was to the local trust who have responsibility for assessing you for Carers Support. This is not money, but childcare hours. I am desperate for it, quite frankly, and it would make a big difference to our lives. But the practical mechanisms of getting the letter first signed, by a GP, and then sent in the post, almost defeated me (it is not a good idea to wander around with my three unless you know EXACTLY where you are going and how you are going to get there: a reason why the search for the post shop had to wait until the weekend, when my other half could mind two of the children at home).
When I dropped it into the post box I found myself in tears, just for a moment, and I couldn't tell if it was relief, frustration or nerves. Probably a mixture of all three.
Then there was the abysmal experience of trying to set up a meeting with Barnados to arrange childcare for my middle son (not because he has SN, but because all three and four year olds are entitled to this in NZ and Barnados is a provider). The woman kept insisting she HAD to meet him before assigning a childminder, even though I explained he didn't like strangers and wouldn't respond well to coming to her office, and I had two other children who I would also have to bring. Could I not leave the other children with someone else? she asked. No, I could not: we don't have the money for extra babysitting at the moment. She was obdurate. So my three will trash her office and my middle one will be terrified for no good reason (he'll probably think she is a doctor, who he particularly hates). I am dreading it.
Looking back on the week, these are my negatives. The positives? Well, so many lovely things have happened that I am really struggling to work out whether I am in a honeymoon period, seeing everything in NZ with rose-tinted specs, or whether this really IS an amazing country that is going to be very good for myself and my family.
In that sense, it's probably quite healthy that I got cross with Barnados and cried in the post shop. If we think we are in heaven, we're generally wrong. Real life is a mix. A week with frustrations included, but sprinkled with exciting glimpses of a good time ahead: that's probably a good, healthy, transitional place to be. I'm doing all right. Still wish I could have bought a stamp without crying, though.