I’m Danny DeVito, a drug-busting cop speeding along in my car. I reach out the window to put one of those temporary flashing light thingies on the roof, when something slowly brushes against my skin. I retract my arm quickly and my eyes burst open in the darkness; I am lying there breathing quickly, heart beating rapidly, confused, when I realise I can hear someone breathing near my head. And then a whispered voice:
“Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum.”
“Oh thanks honey!” I whisper back brightly, pretending that I don’t feel as though someone has chucked hot sand in my eyes. It can’t be morning. I need more sleep than this.
“I’ll get my bruvvers,” Thing 2 says quietly in the dark. “No – WAIT!” I say back but it is too late, I can hear his feet taking off down the hallway. “STOP!” I call out, “COME BACK!” – but he doesn’t. I grope for my phone, and squint against the sudden light of the screen.
4:43 am? You have GOT to be kidding me.
I nudge Thomas who is on the door side of the bed, actively pretending he can’t hear what’s happening. “Quick! Do something!”
He moves his body very slowly, but doesn’t get out of bed fast enough. I throw back the blankets, however it’s too late – I can hear an army of potentially 400 feet marching down the hall. I groan and throw myself face-first into the pillows. The toddler, who is particularly partial to sleep, sobs as he stands by my bed, disoriented at having been ripped from his slumber by his oldest brother. I know the feeling. I lean across Thomas and drag the smallest guy into bed beside me, and the others clamber up over their resting father, who makes little “oooof, oooof” sounds as their knees and hands navigate their way across him.
“HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY!!” They shout at me cheerfully and then, quietly to each other: “let’s give her the presents!” I peer at them, clutching their various pieces of paper. Make it stop………..
“Guys,” I say “Go back to bed, it’s too early.”
“But it’s Mothers’ Day!” Thing 2 exclaims, “We’re meant to wake you up early!”
“No,” I say, “You’re MEANT to let me sleep in, that’s what Mothers’ Day is all about.”
“You’ve got it wrong!” the self-appointed spokesman tells me. “Mothers’ Day is about you getting up super early so we can give you the presents we have worked hard to give to you, because we are excited about giving them to you, and that’s what Mothers’ Day is about.”
“Wait!” I say, “Can we hold off on the presents until it’s light? I need light to be able to fully appreciate the hard work you have put in.” It’s a ploy and we all know it. As I look at their eager faces, Thing 2 declares “Oh I LOOOOVE Mothers’ Day!” and Mr 6 races off to his room, returning with a ball, or “That Bloody Ball” as I like to call it.
‘That Bloody Ball’ has been in residence since only yesterday; Mr 6 went to a gorgeous birthday party, and one of the treasures he returned with was a green, transparent, spiky ball which – upon impact of bouncing – flashes red and blue lights. It’s very cool. The issue I have with it, however, is that it is also equipped with a loud squeaker, not a cute little whistly squeaker, but a full-on EEEE-HERRRR, EEEE-HERRR kind of squeaker, and this is the source of light Mr 6 decides will be good for me to view my gifts by, at quarter to five in the morning.
eeeeee-herrrr, eeeeee-herrrrrr…. eeeee-herrrrrrr, eeeee-herrrrrrrr….
“Wait! I have an idea!” I say cheerfully. “Why don’t you yummy little guys all snuggle in and have a nice cuddle for Mothers’ Day, hmmm? Climb on in!” I throw the blankets back, “And we’ll all have a nice little sleep, and when we wake up it will be morning (‘cos this is kind of the middle of the night you know) and we will all have a look at the beautiful presents you have made for me in the morning!”
Surprisingly they buy it, and get in quietly; one on either side of me, and two with their heads at the other end of the bed. It is all a big tangle of legs everywhere but it doesn’t matter, it is peaceful. For about two minutes.
“Ith it morning yet?” Thing 1 lisps.
” I can’t WAIT for you to see your present!” Mr 6 speculates with impatience.
Thing 2 straightens his legs suddenly and with force, bringing tears to my eyes and providing me with an experience that reminds me destinctly of the minute I became a mother. I sit up; I’ve lost.
“Hey! How about those presents?!” I say cheerfully. They ply me with paper cards and hand-drawn hearts, every mark etched with child-devotion. There’s no point in being cranky; it’s love they’re forcing on me at this screamingly early hour- nothing else, and I pour it right back into these small people, voicing my appreciation.
“I didn’t make you anything.” Thing 1 hides under the blankets with disappointment. “It’s really ok,” I tell him, “I know you love me!” I smile. “Do you know what the best thing is that I could have for Mothers’ Day? You guys. I’m serious; if I didn’t have children I wouldn’t even BE a mother, and can you imagine how boring that would be?” He slowly smiles at me, crisis averted.
And then I send them all to watch TV at 5am, ‘cos that’s how I roll today.
I crawl into bed with coffee, and write a blog post using the WordPress app on my phone. It is painstakingly slow, but I can pull the blankets up around my ears and write lying down, so I convince myself that this is TOTALLY worth the snail pace. As I finally near the end of my writing the boys, cranky with a lack of sleep, leap onto the bed fighting and crying, and as I turn over to address them, I bump the ‘back’ arrow on my phone and just like that, my post is deleted, gone.
But of course.
At about 7am, Thomas brings me coffee and some pancakes, which is a pretty big effort for the guy who has cooked dinner four times in almost nine years. He’s never made pancakes in his life and they are terrible, rubbery and oily, tasting distinctly of the risotto I cooked last night in the pan – with golden syrup poured over the top. I’ve never been much of a pancake girl so it’s an endurance test to say the least, but I manage it with a smile and am genuinely grateful; again, it’s not too hard when you know someone’s intentions are good.
So there it is, Mothers’ Day. It’s not an extra birthday, but in a way it is, because it’s when I think about my journey as a Mum. Those few short hours were essentially my life as a mother summed up; Sleep deprivation, problem-solving, peace-making and looking on the bright side; acceptance of gifts in whatever shape or form they are given, and reading between the lines to see what makes my famiy feel valued (Thomas appreciates pancakes in bed, and the boys are partial to being woken early on special days for the purpose of gift-giving).
And, of course, love. Lots and lots of love.
Still, I wouldn’t mind a sleep-in, next year.