A daring moment in the adventures of parenting…

Impulsive and daring. Once upon a time, I used these words about wearing something ‘outrageous’, a last minute decision for a big night out, going on a blind date, leaving the country for a year, getting onto the news, abseiling, quitting a job, heading off into the unknown on the back of a motorbike. Now, it’s how I describe trying to have an afternoon nap.

This is life with three small children. The sad thing is, it genuinely felt like a dare. A crazy, risky thing to do, full of high excitement and thrill.

The 4 & 2 year old were absorbed in their own game. I edged away to do a few chores. A few minutes later they hadn’t noticed I’d left, and were still happily playing. I got bolder and edged further away, and then a little further. Like a cat burglar in my own house.

Safely sneaked into sanctuary, I found myself unable to resist a call to lie down. There was a pillow and a duvet actually saying my name, I’m sure of it. On impulse, I set my alarm for 20 minutes time, so as not to miss the school run, (we don’t want to get too crazy here) and lay down. The sun streamed through the window and warmed my face, I could have been on a beach. As that beautiful feeling of warmth and comfort was beginning to envelope me, heavy eyelids closed, I felt myself drift, weightless, resting…

CRASH! Smash! Scream! More screaming. They were onto me. The delayed ‘mummy’s missing for more than five seconds’ radar had kicked in. The game had taken a more destructive turn. It sounded like every box of lego, building blocks, dolls accessories, jigsaws, games (especially the ones with lots of pieces) were being upturned all over the house.

So, it would probably have been a good idea to head back downstairs at this point and gain control. I didn’t do that. To be honest, it sounded scary downstairs and judging by the noise, the damage was done. Best to get that bit of rest and deal with it in a better mood. The children felt differently. A screaming competition broke out, which is a really pleasant noise and I winced, hoping the neighbours were at work and not having a day off.   This had clearly become a battle of wills, ‘Who does mummy think she is not spending her every waking moment watching over us?’

I started to break. Pitifully, opting for a halfway house solution, I summoned my best middle-class mum voice ‘Everything ok sweethearts? Please stop screaming. Mummy doesn’t like it.’ They only ever get called names like ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’ when I’m inwardly seething and desperately trying to put my best ‘I’m not at all phased by your behavior as I’m clearly the one in charge here’ voice on.

Silence followed. Damn, I’d given my location away. Could I sneak into the bathroom and lock the door before they got to me? Will I fit underneath the chest of drawers? No, probably not. Or maybe I could hide in a wardrobe? With a few cushions, I could nod off again and no one would know, although I’d probably freak my OH out when he got back from work later and found me there. I’d spent too much time deliberating, their hands were on the door. It opened, I’d say in slow motion to create a more cinematic image, but it was instant.

I pretended to be asleep, maybe they won’t want to disturb me. (Who was I trying to kid?) As the thought popped into my mind, my eyelid was forced open. ‘Found you!’ Two, beautiful, grinning faces with whom, despite physical and mental exhaustion, I am completely in love, and by whom my existence appears to be defined.

The dream was over. The impulse had not paid off. There was going to be no napping.

I headed downstairs to put the house back together, gather bags for swimming classes and find shoes for the school run to get number three.  Something started making a noise. I hunted through the toys, desperately trying to find the offending piece of plastic and rip out its batteries.

But the noise was following me around. ‘Beep beep beep’.

It got louder.  ‘BEEP, BEEP, BEEP’.

Ah, it was my alarm.

Excuses, excuses

Why is it so hard to write?

I’ve been asking myself this question for a long time.  Years, in fact.  I get a sudden burst of energy, complete something and ride high on the achievement for weeks.  It doesn’t have to win any competition, and no one (except long-suffering close friends) need to read it, it’s just a feeling of joy – and ‘joy’ really is the right word.  Writing can make me incredibly happy.  And so, why am I failing to write everyday?  If this is the euphoria provided by a few pages, why not keep it up?  This is the lecture I’m giving myself most of everyday.  I’m obsessed by writing and stories, but do little of it.  Is it confidence?  The minute you tell someone you’re writing, they tell you the story of the person they met at the bus stop who was on the way to their friend’s book launch.  They wrote it in a few months, on a whim, and now have a five book deal and option agreements coming in from hollywood.  You smile, and utter something along the lines of ‘That’s great’, whilst hoping they don’t offer to read the paltry few pages which is all you’ve managed to complete in months.  So is it fear of failing?  That same fear which provokes students to pretend they haven’t revised for an exam, just in case it goes wrong.  If it is, I need to give myself permission to write and fail everyday.  I need to write for the enjoyment of playing with stories, characters and exploring ideas.  I need to get words on a page, just for the sake it.  Just for fun.

Of course, there’s the slight problem of time.  I had three children in less than four years and so time isn’t something of which I have a huge amount, or even a tiny amount.  I also work in script development, on other people’s scripts and wish I was as good at listening to my own advice.  Anything I’ve completed has been through getting up at 0530 to cram in 20 – 30 mins of thinking space before everyone wakes up and the household descends into lovable chaos.  It proved a little unsustainable, so I need to rethink the time strategy.  Over two years have blurred past since the youngest was born, and i’m still here looking for those precious few minutes.  Maybe it’s time to send the children out in clothing that’s not been ironed (or washed) and put us on a beans on toast menu, using paper plates, to free up more time.  Leave them to do their homework by themselves and no more playdates or trips to the park.  OR maybe, life will just carry on as it always has, since it’s those life experiences that makes me the person I am with this mind, imagination and memory.  So, I suppose it’s not time to stop doing the school run, it’s just time to see it as research…  Hmmm, my little notebook of ideas is filling up.  Let’s see how the next few months go…no pressure.

It began so well…

It’s the last day of the Easter holidays for us. For our last day, we ended up on one of our many trips to the doctors. I dread this. It’s my last resort.
Managing three in a waiting room for what feels like a day, but is probably 20-30mins, then, once in the surgery the two that aren’t ill launch themselves on the floor and start coughing like they are trying to part with an internal organ, to get the doctor to check them out as well. “I’m really poorly mummy, too”. “Ha, ha sweetheart, you’re fine really. Let the doctor examine your sister” comes my slightly high-pitched, ‘everything’s fine – I’m in control’ response. The doctor and I slowly get louder and louder, conversing above the din made by the now, nearly fitting children on the floor. They throw everything at their performance.

However, today was just a bit better. It seemed to be going well. In the waiting room, despite a lack of bribe snacks, colouring pens and books, they played together, one might say, beautifully. An older lady and her husband were sat waiting nearby and I saw them look at us and whisper to each other, but today, unlike usual, I felt we were getting a good report. The children sang ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ to pass the time and I felt like super mum. Finally it was our turn. There was some quarrelling in the surgery over toys, raised voices, but no feigned illnesses. It was all manageable. I should have known there was worse to come.

The pharmacy is in the same building as the doctors, and there we ran into aforementioned elderly couple. The woman came up to tell me how well behaved my children were and how lovely they played together. It was all a bit dreamlike – and then my time was up. The pharmacist took about ten minutes to get our prescription together and in that time, my children knocked over an entire shelf of toiletries twice (the second time happened as they were trying to help me put it back together) tried to climb the letters in the window display (to be fair, they did look fun to climb on, but that’s not the point) invented a hugging game which resulted in wrestling each other to the ground and managed to send one of the pharmacists flying across the floor as she ventured into the shop to get something from a shelf. It’s not that I was happily letting this happen, it’s just that there’s one of me and three of them, each running in different directions. They had clearly used up all their energy trying to be good for so long. I couldn’t get another rendition of ‘We’re going in a bear hunt’ going and struggled to muster more than 30 seconds of entertainment out of a height chart in the corner. On the plus side, our prescriptions may get pushed to the front of the queue from now on – and I’m sure the pharmacist will recover from her injuries and be walking again soon!

A new year’s resolution that took a while to get round to…

Tired, but can never switch off?  A stay at home mum hit with the daily lunchtime slump in energy or a working mum trying to stay awake on the tube (bus/train/car/walking).  Either way – I get it.  I’ve decided to celebrate it and be grateful for having such a full life…as I put another cup of coffee in the microwave to reheat, count to ten before answering the same question from one of my little people for the fifth time in two minutes and march at optimum speed, powering a double buggy overflowing with bags down the high street as pedestrians dive out of the way to save themselves from the crazed mum on a mission with a slightly wild look in her eye and an ‘everything’s fine, actually just great’ expression on her face, (well practised and convincing).

Never enough hours, always something to do and someone needing attention…I wouldn’t change it for the world!  (honest)  So pop by and visit me in my little corner of south west London.  Its always nice to chat and share …

Oh and yes, starting this blog was my New Year resolution (can’t remember which year).  I have three little people, all born in less than four years, and the eldest is now five – so sometimes, things just take a bit longer…