A few of you have asked me recently where my posts are.
I’ve been missing in action.
I apologise profusely to those who have been kept waiting. I’ve been here, I have! I have been here but I have been brain-dead, staring at my screen in the vague hope that my blog posts will write themselves, with the humour and delight I like to put into them. It never happened, and here’s why.
There are these creatures that live in my house, conspiring against me. They have charmed their way into my heart so that while they wreak destruction I am powerless to send them back to the pet shop, or wherever it is that they came from originally. By the time they are done with me for the day, I am done with thinking for the day. Without the thinking, the writing doesn’t happen. The ripple effect is vicious, I tell you.
The creatures I speak of are all male, which means that I spend a large portion of time, while they are at their various educational institutes, scrubbing nooks and crannies in the battle against the odour of pee. They must urinate standing, and it is preferable that they are twisting their little bodies to look somewhere behind them while they do so. Their perfect aim is my great aim. I fear it is an unreachable goal.
There is much despair, at times, that the fragrance I speak of is woven into the very fabric of our lives. Although I have discovered the perfect recipe to neutralise the stench, I cannot always pinpoint its exact location. Today I hit my angry little jackpot when I discover that someone has emptied their bladder into the rubbish bin in the bathroom. There’s no point in even asking why, because the impulsive nature of these creatures means that even THEY won’t have the answer to this.
The house is clean in the afternoon, when Thomas leaves for his shift. I leave at the same time as him today; It’s time to get the three big boys from school and kindy. We all survive the trip, despite Thing 1 and Thing 2 attempting to kill each other in the far recesses of the car while I drive. The toddler begins to holler as Mr 6 takes a car out of his hand, and so the witching hour begins.
Upon arrival at home, there is a compulsory fight about whose turn it is to open the gate. As they all tumble, screaming, through the entrance to our residence I yell at them – yes, yell out on the street like a shrew– for them to come back and pick their bags up from the footpath. When they don’t return I leave their belongings where they are, secretly hoping that someone is looking for some filthy child-clothes and grotty leftover lunch and steals the lot. That’ll teach them. I lift the thrashing-and-screaming-for-no-reason toddler and wrestle him into the house.
I fear we are ‘those’ neighbours.
I bathe the children early in a neutral-smelling bathroom and get on with making a pumpkin and chicken risotto for dinner. I know that they won’t really eat it; but a sense of responsibility forces me to cook it nonetheless. As I am plating their meals, Mr 6 appears beside me and asks for the vacuum cleaner “…because… um… Thing 2 has emptied a bean bag onto the floor and is making snow angels in it…”.
I storm through the house and completely short-circuit as I enter the twins’ previously clean room. There are micro beans everywhere, along with all the Lego and an entire Jenga pack. I ball my fist and bump it slowly against my forehead, trying super hard to keep my cool, and issue the statement that nobody will be eating dinner until the room is tidied.
Without them, I eat alongside the toddler who would prefer cheese to what I have served him, and is telling me in no uncertain terms. The others finally arrive once their food is cold. “I want mine warmed up!” Thing 2 demands in a petulant voice. “No,” I tell him, “I am not re-heating your dinner. It’s cold because you mucked around for a long time; that is the consequence.” He throws his head back in a loud and angry wail, and launches his meal across the room, spreading risotto in an arc across the floor – but thankfully not breaking the dish it was in. I want to launch him across the room, but instead I take him by the arm and march him to the bathroom. “Brush your teeth,” I instruct coldly, “You’re going to bed.”
“You can’t do this to me!” He screams at my departing back. “I thought you were a GOOD mother! I can’t believe my Mum is doing this to me! You can’t just send children to bed hungry! You said you loved me! YOU ARE THE WORSEST MUM EVER!!!!!”
I roll my eyes at the theatrics, and go to clear the table. The toddler, apparently, knows where the cheese is kept and is working his way through quarter of a kilo block. He looks like the cat who got the cream. I don’t even bother taking it off him.
“Finally!” shouts Mr 6, “The drought is over! The drought is over! The drought is over!”
I’m not actually sure if it is a drought-breaker, but the sky has opened with the same dramatic energy as my children and I race out to get the washing from the line. As I do this, I can hear Mr 6 and Thing 1 whooping and carrying on as they run wildly in their pajamas on the lawn. The toddler joins them, whooping uncertainly with his cheese. Thing 2 is still mouthing off in the house.
But not for long.
He appears suddenly on the doorstep, chin down, glaring up at me from below a darkened brow just like a horror movie.
“I’m going to stand in the rain and make sure I get a cold,” he mutters in a grim voice, “and then I won’t be able to go to kindy and I will have to stay with you all the time...”
“Knock yourself out, freaky little kid.” I say as I brush past with the washing basket.
He propels past me, and throws himself dramatically into his room, where the raindrops on him become a kind of glue for the micro beans. If his shrieking wasn’t so ear-splitting, his reaction would be hilarious.
As I close the curtains I notice Thing 1 and Mr 6 standing in my garden. They are doing that covert ‘quick look over the shoulder’ that sounds alarm bells for every parent, and it would seem today that this is because they have just created a muddy swamp pit and are wallowing in it in their pajamas. I lean out of the window.
“Take your clothes off and wash yourselves under the tap,” I tell them in a beaten, weary voice. I close the curtains and pull the blankets over Thing 2. “I love you, good night” I say, kissing him, “I want you to try really hard to make good choices tomorrow, ok?”
I throw a pile of clean pajamas to the other two as they walk in the front door, and gather up the muddy mess that has been shed at their feet. I rinse the clothes in the laundry sink, and as I walk back through the dining room I see the toddler, caked in mud, smearing handfuls of swamp all over the wall.
I want to cry. I want to lie on the floor while bits of rice and micro beans get stuck in my hair and wait for the angels to take me away. I don’t want to do this, today just feels so hard.
But I do it anyway, just like millions of other parents across the planet do. I take a deep breath, and one by one get my children into their beds, and into their beds, and back into their beds again, and begin the evening round of cleaning, vacuuming, doing dishes, making lunches and checking uniforms for the next day.
An hour later, the house looks more or less like it did in the early afternoon. I find the remnants of a bottle of wine in the bottom of the fridge and pour it into a glass, shaking it to get every last drip. As I sink into a chair in my tidy-ish house with the glass in my hand, I hear the rattle of Thomas’ key in the front door.
“Hey,” he says as he spots me, “how was your day?”
“Well,” I say, “it was pretty full on.”
“Indeed they are,” I tell him, “How was your shift?”
“Busy,” he replies, looking at me relaxing with a glass in my hand, “You have NO idea!”
His funeral is tomorrow at 2pm.