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.