The Bedtime Routine Of The Dazed Parent

Yet again, I am posting from a house that is positively swimming in germs and bacteria. In the last few weeks, we have been hit by more viruses that I believe to be truly acceptable.

Although apparently, my opinion is of no consequence in this situation.

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The other day, I finally succumbed to the stomach bug that had successfully overtaken two of my three children. As the waves of nausea swept over me, my first thought was, “Ooh, better get the dishes out of the way if I’m going to be ill!” And it got me thinking how much our reactions to everyday situation change after we have children. Before I procreated, my instant response to impending illness would have been “BED!” But now here I am, prioritising essential housework over much needed rest!

It’s a weird old world.

One of the situations where I’ve seen the most change is the bedtime routine. No, I’m not talking about getting the children into bed. I mean me.

When I only had myself to take care of, my bedtime routine probably looked something like this:

  1. Get into bed.
  2. Read for a while,
  3. Go to sleep.

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Oh, blissful simplicity!

Without a doubt, parenting brings a whole swathe of changes and challenges into your life. Now, my bedtime routine looks a little more like this:

  • Drag myself up from the couch after realising I have dozed off and missed the last twenty minutes of my TV programme.
  • Spend ten minutes searching for the front door keys in increasingly imaginative places before discovering that they are, as always, in my handbag.
  • Lock front door.
  • Get halfway up the stairs before heading back down to switch the heating off.
  • Second try!
  • Reach the top of the stairs before having a crisis of self-doubt about whether I remembered to lock the back door.

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  • Nip back down to check.
  • It’s locked.
  • Finally get as far as the bathroom.
  • Brush teeth and attempt an almost silent wee (Squeak’s bedroom is right next door to the bathroom.)
  • Ponder reason wee needs to sound like a professional grade power washer at the most inconvenient of times.
  • Hold breath and listen for signs of Squeak waking.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Creep to Squeak’s doorway.
  • Check for breathing.
  • Can’t hear her. Listen harder.
  • Gingerly step over safety gate and edge closer.
  • Lean over Squeak, only to jump back as she takes a loud breath and begins to stir.
  • Make a hasty exit, acquiring painful gate-related vulval injury on way out.

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  • Swear under breath and do elaborate ‘ouchy’ dance on landing.
  • Tiptoe up to big girls’ bedroom.
  • Trip over three teddies and land on a Lego block. In bare feet.
  • Engage in silent scream.
  • Give Big Girl a kiss and tuck her in (kid snores like a steam engine, no need for double checking here!)
  • Listen for Little Girl’s breathing.
  • Wonder why she appears to hold her breath the very moment I go to check on her.
  • Bring my face closer to hers and strain ears.
  • Still nothing.
  • Lightly poke her cheek.
  • Get smacked in the face as she violently turns over.
  • She’s still breathing.

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  • Tiredly drag myself into bedroom and collapse into bed.
  • Speedily leap back out.
  • Remove six soft toys and a day-old kids’ sock from the bed. Oh, and something… pointy.
  • Lie down with a sigh and snuggle down.
  • Get out book for some late night reading and relaxation.
  • Check alarms for the next day and put phone on to charge.
  • Turn over and strangle myself with charger wire.
  • Begin making a list in my head of all the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Recall all the things I forgot to do today.
  • Dammit!
  • Suppress urge to go and see if I remembered to lock front door.
  • Read.
  • What’s that noise?

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  • Read more.
  • Ok, what’s that noise?
  • Roam house hunting for burglars.
  • Admonish myself for being a damn idiot.
  • Sink back under covers.
  • Weep inside as Squeak chooses this moment to wake up.
  • Settle her back down again and sneak away.
  • Get back into bed.
  • Read.
  • Fall asleep still wearing glasses (always).
  • Wake with a start as child climbs into bed.
  • Listen to detailed account of distressing nightmare that brought her there.
  • Forcibly remove glasses from muchly dented face.
  • Rub aching nose.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Groan as Squeak wakes again.
  • Tuck her into my bed.
  • Unleash breast from top.
  • Fall into haze of unconsciousness.

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  • The end <yawn>

I have to say, I’ve experienced slightly more relaxing bedtime rituals in my life. And I live in hope that one day, one day, I may again!

I’m not feeling massively optimistic, though.

How about you? How does your routine measure up?

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Parenting Skills I Have Never Acquired

Parenting is essentially a college course that you never graduate from. Everything is a learning opportunity, and I am constantly picking up little tips and tricks to make my life a bit easier. I have the walking with a child hanging off my leg, the cooking in three minute bursts and the dressing an octopus skills down pat.

But there are some skills I’ve never quite managed to acquire. Maybe I missed that lesson, maybe my kids were busy doing some other fuckery or maybe I’m just an idiot.

my face

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, let’s get on!

The Ability To Change Nappies Standing Up

I know that so much of writing depends on the visual. So, for the purpose of enlightening you all, I must explain that in this scenario, I am not the one doing the standing up. Obviously. Because while due to my slightly underdeveloped height I am closer to the floor than the average person, my arms are also proportionately stumpy. So, in summary, I cannot change a floor-lying person from the vertical position.

Glad we cleared that up.

Anyway, I have seen so many posts online where people bemoan their newly mobile babies’ inability to lie still for the essential nappy changing process. The solution that is always given, without question, is ‘just changing him standing up!’

Well folks, I am most certainly not without question. More specifically, I am asking, “How the fuck do you do that??”

squeak standing

Lookit the thighs!

You see? Now you’re visualising!

Is there something I’m missing here? I get that changing the nappy of a kid that can corkscrew his own freaking body borders on the bloody impossible, but I can’t see how this makes it any easier. I mean, I’m seeing mess, I’m seeing chaos, I’m seeing my hand wedged between two ballooning baby thighs. And yes, I’m also seeing stealth poos and me futilely chasing a waddling shit machine across a room with a cream carpet.

How do you do it? Seriously tell me, because despite my last child rapidly approaching potty training, I feel like this knowledge would bring me peace.

So bring me peace, goddammit!

The Ability To Listen To Two Conversations At Once

My kids come out of school smiling, rumpled and extremely rosy-cheeked.

What, you mean that's make up?

What, you mean that’s make up?

Does the school’s heating even have an off button?

We begin the walk home, that inevitably involves snails, falling over and an awkward conversation about genitalia.

You know, the usual.

As we walk, I ask the same question I always ask: “So, how was your day?”

What follows is a cacophony of noise that sounds approximately like this:

“Blah blah blah geflurgle bleath a playtime vegan hurly flooby hot dinner mooga PENIS!” Or something along those lines, anyway.

Ten points for anyone who tried saying that out loud. No judgement, I did it like ten times.

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Squeak tried it too.

Now, in my opinion I should have the ability to listen to both of my attention-hungry scholars simultaneously. I mean, I have two ears! But actually what results is an overwhelming of the senses so great that I have to fight the urge to stick my fingers in my ears and shout, “La la la la la la la!”

So instead I have to referee a game of turn taking, partial sentences and periods where a child grabs at my sleeve urgently, only to follow it up with, “Errrmmmmmmmmmm…..”

What a pain in the arse.

The Ability To Make Sense Out Of Utter Nonsense

If you guys agree with me on just one thing in this post, it’ll be this: Kids are really fucking weird.

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Mmm hmm.

You’ve got to be constantly on your toes. Forget brain surgery, screw quantum physics and military strategies can kiss my ass. Trying to figure out what oils the cogs of my kids’ brains is one of the more perplexing tasks of my day.

You’d think that, having had so much practice, I’d be really good at knowing how to respond.

Well, I don’t want to undersell myself. I do have a fairly consistent response. It’s just not all that helpful.

Allow me to illustrate with a little story. The other night, Squeak woke up. On the scale of zero to hysteria, she was hovering somewhere around the strangled howl level. So, being the responsible mother that I am, I ran upstairs to sort her out.

Sliding into bed next to her, I asked my usual question, “Ah honey, what’s the matter?” I don’t know why I bother asking, the answer is nearly always *mumble* *mumble* *squeak* But hey, after being silent for the couple of hours following bedtime, it’s always good to know the vocal cords still work!

That night, Squeak decided to mix it up a little. Her face crumpled as she yelled, ” I lost my head!” And she continued to sniffle.

Now, what I should have done at this point was to comfort her. Cuddle, kiss, wave my boob in her general direction. Like, whatever.

What actually happened is that I sat on the bed, staring at Squeak with an incredulous expression on my face. I’m guessing it was akin to the look I imagine I would wear if I ever actually managed a full night’s sleep.

They're not in my bed, but it's only a matter of time.

They’re not in my bed, but it’s only a matter of time.

Yeah, as if that’s ever going to happen.

I didn’t do any of the comforting things. And the staring lasted for way longer than is truly acceptable when faced with a wailing toddler.

My bad. Really got to sort this shit out.

The Ability To Look An Angry Child In The Face Without Laughing

There is one thing I know to be true about angry children: They look really fucking funny.

I don’t know if it’s the sight of such an adult expression on a young face, or if I’m just some sort of sick individual who glories in the less pleasant emotions of my offspring.

Nope, it’s definitely the first one. They just look so freaking funny! And of course you’ve got the foot stamping as well. Squeak has levelled this one up with her invention of the ‘double foot stamp.’ I mean, essentially it’s just pissed off jumping. But that’s what makes it special!

cheese

It’s clear to me that I need to find a way to contain my laughter. I can’t think of one situation where it’s ever made it any better. But for me, the easiest giggler in the whole world, that’s easier said than done.

So I’m going to continue, messing up my authoritative stance within my house and escalating minor altercations with my guffaws.

That is, until they stop provoking me!

The Ability To See My Child Falling And Not Stand Frozen To The Spot (Sometimes With My Eyes Closed)

I’d like to begin by stating that I am neither evil, nor mildly sociopathic. I can’t help it! I think it’s some kind of fucked up reflex, although for the life of me I can’t figure out how it could possibly be useful.

It can be kind of frustrating. As we’re walking along, I see the trip, the tangled feet, the flailing of arms as my kid begins the downward journey towards the ‘splat!’ on the pavement. And my brain is yelling, “Run to her! Catch her! Fucking do something!” But apparently, the connection between said brain and my traitorous body momentarily lapses, because instead I become like a tree, completely rooted to the spot. And yes, sometimes my eyes close.

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Why??

Once they’ve landed on the floor the spell is broken and I can run to them, scoop them up and do all of the various comforting things that are in my repetoire. All good. Well, except for the complete parenting fail that preceded it, anyway.

I’d love it if someone could give me an insight into this one, because it makes me feel really guilty! But no matter how hard I ponder it, I always come back to the same conclusion: I am really fucking stupid.

Help me!

The Ability To Pick Up Children From School Without Leaving The House

Well ok, I haven’t exactly figured out how to achieve this one yet. I think you’ll agree it’s a bit of a pipe dream. But come on, a woman’s gotta hope.

Right?

Right??

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The Many-Pronged Attack Of The Squeak

Hello, everybody! Apologies for the radio silence, awesome blogging has categorically not been what I do recently. Apart from a rather absorbing revival of my knitting addiction, I have spent most of my time either child-wrangling or pondering the meaning of life.

Turns out, this is not exactly conducive to an outpouring of hilarity. But handily, it’s also quite boring!

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Not the knitting. That’s still awesome.

But all the rest, I have tired of somewhat. And so I am back! For how long, I’m not sure. But hopefully, there’s life in me yet.

I may be a little rusty, mind.

In the time that I have been gone, Mademoiselle Squeak has turned eighteen months old. And with that have come some… interesting developments.

Sure, she still has the adorable, goggly eyes and the delightfully chubby cheeks. And that little crooked smile is to die for.

Awwww.

But seriously, watch yourself. Don’t be fooled.

Because underneath this irresistible exterior lies a boiling core of pure, unadulterated baby rage.

And she’s really small, so it’s all concentrated and stuff.

Ask me how I know about that, if you dare.

Anyways, it appears that Squeak has read the memo about that shit we call the terrible twos, and decided to get in there early. At the moment she appears to have only two emotional states: consumed  with fiery fury, and asleep.

And she doesn’t do all that much of the second one.

She spends these sleepless hours refining and honing her technique, in a bid to take over the world. Or at least, her family.

What, you didn’t think she’d have a technique? Tut! Do you read anything I write?

Kids always have a technique.

Read on to discover a little bit about Squeak’s. (It’s not a little bit because I’m too lazy to write it all down, either. I’m not naive enough to think that she’s in any way finished thinking up ways to fuck up my life yet!)

1. The Screech

It has come to my attention that Squeak’s nickname may be a touch outdated. Gone are the days when she squeaked and gurgled her way around the room, gnawing on whatever mouth-sized gadget she could find and imbibing vast quantities of crumbs and fluff.

I never thought I’d say it, but I kind of miss that now.

For starters, she’s getting pretty good at talking. She’s learning more and more words every day, and sometimes even remembering how to use them. A personal favourite is when she proffers a toy that isn’t working, and proclaims, “Need hewp!”

It’s cute. Obviously my response is, “Oh dear, I guess the batteries ran out. I will definitely, totally change those, like, at some point in the future… honest!”

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No, that is not a lie! I resent the implication.

But as much as she is learning to talk more, Squeak is also realising that actually, she doesn’t need to talk at all.

Why would you need to talk when you can burst numerous ear drums with one sharp screech?

Oh yes, she screeches. Anyone who has heard said screech will agree that it is a source of considerable sensory discomfort. It just freaking hurts, ok?

She’s not particularly choosy about when she uses it, either. Walking towards her? Screech! Looking at her? Screech! God forbid, touching her? Screech!!!

She stops older children from grabbing her toys in seconds. Even I quail at the thought of having to stop her from doing something at any proximity closer than the other side of the room.

It’s a highly effective skill, and one I’m almost a little jealous of. I mean, how cool would it be to be able to stop everyone in their tracks with one (albeit, energetic) sound?

I can’t do that shit.

2. The Casual Face Slap

It has come to my attention that Squeak is somewhat keen on moving into a bed of her very own.

The evidence of this is most certainly not an impressive ability to fall asleep (and stay asleep) without my considerable input.

Not. Happening.

No, I am aware of this fact because Squeak has certain, less than civilised ways of telling me. Oh yes.

And she doesn’t want just any old bed.

She wants Little Girl’s.

Our evening routine ends with stories in Little Girl’s bedroom. Squeak listens and participates happily, as well as she can.

By that, I mean she turns the pages before I’m done reading and rips as many straggling pieces of paper as she can get her hands on.

Me? Nuh uh.

Me? Nuh uh.

It’s fun.

When the stories are finished, Little Girl and Big Girl share a cuddle and kiss. And that’s where Squeak sees her opportunity.

She leaps under the covers, grabs any available teddy bear and yells, “My bed!”

Or, more accurately, “My Bett!” Because apparently she can convey her meaning better in German.

Little Girl, understandably, is more than a little irked by this. So she protests by attempting to clamber in next to her beloved baby sister. You know, for snuggles and shit.

Here enters the Casual Face Slap.

Squeak don’t want no snuggles. Or shit, for that matter. All she wants is her very own bed. And the double that supposedly belongs to me, in which she persists in taking up all the space?

Meh.

So as Little Girl snuggles close, wrapping her arm around the small demon child’s waist, Squeak lifts her hand and delivers a stinging slap right on the cheek.

Well, not quite stinging. That’s why I call it the casual slap. Because there’s no aggression in it whatsoever.

Actually, do you know what it’s like? You know when one of those annoying flies with the high-pitched buzz gets right up in your face and refuses to leave no matter how much you swat at it? It just buzzes and buzzes right in your ear, in a calculated attempt to make you get the fuck out of its habitat?

Yeah, it’s like that.

3. The Drop To The Floor

So it’s always nice to know that people are reading the shit you write. Except if you realise that one of your kids is reading it.

To anyone under the age of about seven, this blog is less fantastic entertainment, and more a devilish instruction manual.

So imagine my dismay when I realised that Squeak had come across my post about Tantrum Techniques.

She must have, there’s simply no other explanation.

In case you’re wondering, the move she has mastered is The Flop. When she gets pissed (and I mean really pissed. We’re not talking irked, here), she immediately throws herself flat out on the floor.

Like this. Except angrier.

Like this. Except angrier.

And she’s not careful about it either. Personally I like to have some respect for the small amount of brains I have, even if they are safely enclosed in that rather oversized skull of mine. Squeak? Not so much. That kid has absolutely no consideration for her delicate, beautiful little head.

She doesn’t care what she hits, be it a toy, a shelf or just the floor itself. She’s going doooooown!

She actually seems to prefer it if she injures herself while she’s doing it. Then she gets to flash me that sorrowful, slightly reproachful look that never fails to tug at my heart-strings.

You know, because it’s my fault she hurt herself.

I like to think she operates The Drop on a point-scoring system.

A plain old Drop – 1 point

A mild head injury – 2 points

An injury of epic, breath holding proportions (see below) – 10 points

A fall which results in both of her arms coming out of the coat that I just spent ages wrestling her into – JACKPOT!

My House – Where Messing With Your Mother Is A Sport.

4. The Death Grip

One thing that a child with older siblings learns almost as soon as she can move around is that you’ve got to hold on to shit.

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Ready? Set? Squeeeeeeeze!

Like, really hold on.

Because they’re bigger than you, and they will use that size discrepancy to their advantage at any opportunity.

In our house, Squeak totally has the advantage. She can hold onto shit for longer than I, frankly, would be arsed about keeping it. Her face turns red with effort, and the aforementioned screech shows its face more than once. She’s willing to travel up and down the room, stamping her little feet and pulling as hard as she can.

But she will. not. let. go.

It doesn’t matter what it is. A toy, a piece of food, a forbidden object. Hell, she’d probably keep her grip on a grenade, if she really wanted to.

Big Girl and Little Girl are beginning to learn that they have less than a decent chance of getting their stuff back when Squeak has it in her sights. And that’s saying something, because I didn’t think I’d ever meet a kid with a tighter grip than my determined, ever-focused Little Girl.

But Squeak. Man, she’s got some superhuman strength going on. And so the older ones release their prize, dejection and frustration written all over their faces.

That’s where I have to step in. The eternal fixer-upper.

Because you know, I’m amazing at getting her to let go.

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Yeah.

5. The Breath Hold

This one comes last, but by no means least. It is the most spectacular tool in her much varied arsenal. Not to mention the cause of great aesthetic trauma, which is guaranteed to bring me to a rather abrupt stop.

Now, I am not at all new to the concept of breath holding in small people. Big Girl used to do it every time she bumped her head. Thankfully, I think she’s grown out of it now. At least, it hasn’t happened for at least a year.

And I was a breath holder myself, until the fairly shameful age of ten. I don’t know quite why I’m ashamed of that, it’s not like I could control it!

Seriously though, ten???

This, however, is my very first encounter with the sacrifice of life-giving oxygen simply as an expression of rage. And it’s taking more than a little getting used to.

I wasn’t prepared at all when she started. I didn’t realise the significance of the scream, followed by an ever-reaching spell of utter silence.

I thought, for some illogical reason, that she’d simply…. stopped crying. I mean, is it really that unreasonable to assume that?

Seriously?

Seriously?

Yes. Yes it is, you foolish, full of nothing approaching awesome woman.

I mean, ugh.

When I did sense something was slightly off kilter and looked up, I was faced with a baby staring at me with a grotesque, contorted grimace on her face. Oh, and for good measure, she was turning an unpleasant shade of purple.

Shit.

I reached out to grab her, but I was too late.

Obviously.

Over she keeled, and hit the floor like a sack of spuds. Oops. But on the bright side, that totally kicked the whole breathing reflex in again. Hurrah!

This wonderful phenomenon is showing absolutely no signs of letting up as yet, but you’ll be glad to know that I am getting way better at catching her.

Go me.

As you can see, life in the Awesome house is just that little bit more colourful right now. But fret not, it’s not all bad I suppose. Squeak has also learned to give kisses that don’t result in an accidental (I think) headbutt, and she can say, “I luff you!” And best of all, she has just realised that she can jump.

I mean, her feet aren’t leaving the floor, but she doesn’t need to know that. She couldn’t look more delighted with herself as she lifts herself onto her tippy toes and yells, “DUMP!”

Oh yeah, she calls it a dump, as well.

Ha!

Ha!

Man, I’m so fucking infantile.

God it feels good to be back. I’ve been churning ideas over in my head for weeks, but when I sat down in front of the computer they just shrivelled up and died.

Nice image, huh?

So I’ve been hunkering down and flexing my knitting muscles, waiting for my muse to return. And I think it just may have!

Hope you like it 🙂

8 Simple Rules For Surviving Your Kids

Today I’m channelling a bit of John Ritter. Because why not? I used to watch ‘8 Simple Rules’ on ABC1 when we first got Freeview. I mean sure, it used to crackle, break up or plain old disappear at least half of the time. But it beat having to do anything productive, idle-arsed teen that I was.

Anyway, I got to thinking (as I do). And I thought, what I really need is a list of 8 simple rules for surviving my kids’ childhood. Sometimes it does feel as if I navigate the days like an army obstacle course, hanging on grimly to the very edges of what I laughingly call my sanity.

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And, because I’m a helpful motherfucker, I wrote this shit down for you guys. Think of it as something similar to the WARNING! page in the instruction booklet for an electrical item. You’re not going to always need that information, but when you do, you’ll know about it!

Take heed.

1. Never Make A Special Effort With Food Just For Them

I have made this error on numerous occasions. It could be said that I just never learn.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying, “Fuck healthy food! Just feed your kids beige!” I’m just saying, make the effort for everyone, you included.

One thing I’ve found is that when you have three children, it is almost guaranteed that at least one will view your latest offerings with something approaching distaste. Like last night. I made the girls meringue nests with whipped cream and strawberries on top. Mmm mmm. I mean, who’s going to turn that down?

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Um, Squeak.

She looked at that stunning dessert as if I’d shit in a shoe and handed it to her on a plate. She glanced from it to me with an expression of increasing suspicion. Tentatively, she poked the cream and licked a finger.

It was not a hit. But she did eat the strawberries at least. Grudgingly.

I didn’t mind so much though. Big Girl and Little Girl devoured theirs, and I had one too. It was decidedly not bad.

But there are times when I want to eat after they’re in bed. And I have an awesome idea for a meal I just know they’ll love. So I plan, and shop, and cook. And as I proudly place in on the table in front of them, I am rewarded with three pairs of eyes staring up at me, with an expression that clearly states, “What in the fresh hell is this?”

Now, I cook the same thing for everyone. If they don’t like it, that just means extra leftovers for me.

And I’ll never shake a stick at that.

2. Never Admire Yourself

Yes, you bastarding parents! Dress in sacks and smear your faces with dust from the fireplace you totally meant to clean last week.

Well, that’s not exactly what I meant. Although sometimes I think I don’t look that much of a step away from that, at the close of the day.

This is what I’m on about. You know when, on a whim, you actually make a bit of an effort with your appearance. You pick an outfit that actually matches, and maybe even *gasp* iron it. Perchance you wear a little makeup, and brush your hair. Then you look at yourself in the mirror and nod, or smile a little. You look goooooood!

Take me advice. Avoid your kids completely after that. Because they can sense the pride you have in your appearance, and they will do their level best to fuck that shit up.

Gizza smooch, mum!

Gizza smooch, mum!

I’m talking an enthusiastic swipe of the nose across your shoulder during a hug. Or mucky, sticky fingers on your knees. Or a particularly explosive vomit from a small baby.

If you’ve got all together too cocky, I can tell you that a horrendous nappy malfunction is almost certainly winging its way towards you.

*shrugs* That’s kids for you! They survive by keeping us in our places.

3. Never Make Plans

Ok, so maybe I’m being a little excessive here.

A bit of downtime is essential to stay sane. Be it a night out, a coffee with friends, or just a movie and an oversized piece of cake at home, it can recharge your batteries and leave you refreshed to carry on with the whole parenting thang. Also, it is important to cultivate a bit of an identity outside of being ‘a mother.’ You are still a person with wants, needs, and interests outside of a game of roll-the-ball and Mr. fucking Tumble.

So, yeah, do make plans. But just make sure that you keep them a secret from your devious, scheming children.

Sorry, what was that? No no, I said darling, sweet children. You must have misheard.

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Are you fooled? I thought not.

I have noticed, over the years, that my children are completely in synch with my plans to go out or put my feet up. In synch as in, present at the time I am supposed to be doing said thing. Honestly, the amount of times I have spent sprawled on a bed in fancy clothes, lying in an odd position so I don’t wreck my hair, feeding a child who is absolutely not going to sleep any time soon! That’s one of the reasons I don’t go out much.

And even if I only plan a relaxing evening at home, I can be sure that Squeak will come along for the party. There’s nothing like pausing a film every twenty minutes to run up to a baby who is suddenly struck down with a severe case of pretend teething.

Remember, never tell your kids anything. Because they will use it against you.

4. Never Join In On A Trampoline

Just don’t. Ok? Do I really need to go into the whys and wherefores?

I know it looks all fun and shit. Your kids are leaping up and down with gay abandon, giggling and squealing at the top of their voices. You want in on that joy. It’s understandable. But it’s a risky business.

Maybe it’s a three children thing. That is a helluva lot of childbirth, I guess it takes its toll.

Hear me now, though. I speak from experience. The first jump on a trampoline isn’t so bad. It’s the second one that provides a slightly unpleasant surprise. You know, the kind of surprise that comes from the feeling that 70% of your abdominal organs stayed at the bottom of the jump.

Gawsh!

Gawsh!

It’s a shocker.

P.S. If you insist on disregarding my helpful advice on this subject, at the very least go to the toilet first!

5. Never Stand Downwind

I don’t know if it’s just me, but my kids make some fairly horrendous smells. I guess they do eat a lot of greens. But I suspect that that is only part of the problem.

You see, toilet humour is a major focus in our house. At first it was only Big Girl that indulged in this obsession, but Little Girl has now also joined the crew. Nothing amuses them more than a good fart joke.

And in this case, the joke is firmly on me.

I have learned quickly to make a hasty exit when I see a red, scrunched- up face. It helps that they look at me with mischievous glints in their eyes. That’s a sure warning sign.

But no matter how hard I try, I still spend most of my time within a cloud of broccoli stench, surrounded by giggling girls.

Eww.

Eww.

I’m contemplating a nose peg.

6. Never Teach Them How To Play Mini Punch

Have you ever played Mini Punch? If not, then here’s a brief overview: if you see a Mini (as in, the car), you punch someone. Not a stranger, like. That would be pushing it. It’s preferable to punch the person that you’re playing the game with.

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I know. It’s devastatingly complex.

I remember having great fun playing this as a kid, so I taught it to Big Girl and Little Girl.

Big mistake.

It turns out, Big Girl is actually a lot better at Mini Punch than me. I’m sure her far superior eyesight helps, as does the fact that I spent as many moments as I can with my head in the clouds.

She can even clock an old Mini, and those souped up Mini trucks. (Is it just me that thinks they’re a complete contradiction? I mean, Mini. It’s in the name.)

And she has a competitive streak a mile wide. Which I didn’t exactly realise until we started playing this game.

I have many regrets. And a sore arm.

Oh, and Little Girl? She has absolutely no idea how to play Mini Punch. Or for that matter, what a Mini even is. So she just punches the crap out of me at every opportunity.

Which is fun.

7. Never Think Crayons Are Safe

I have a strict system when it comes to drawing paraphernalia in my house. Crayons are a free for all. They can be found on the little table which Squeak can reach, under various pieces of furniture, and inside a nappy or two at times. You know, whatever.

Felt tipped pens and colouring pencils, on the other hand, are kept well out of reach of the smallest beast. If she’s going to draw all over herself and anything else she can find, I’d rather it was temporary. I don’t want to have to explain why the kids have whiskers.

Again. (Yes, obviously that’s happened before.)

But, as usual, I haven’t quite thought it through. It is true that Squeak cannot give herself a Sharpie moustache of Dali-esque proportions. And my walls are free and clear of abstract scribbles.

However, crayons are not completely trouble-free. Because every time I enter the room at the moment, I find a Squeak munching thoughtfully on the tip of yet another one. “Mmmmm!” she says as she chews. I think she spends more time chewing on them than drawing.

The nappies are… illuminating.

8. Never Tell Them Something Is A Surprise

Can you tell there’s a story here?

Silly me. There’s always a story.

Last week, it was my dad’s birthday. So a few weeks ago, I carefully selected and ordered a really thoughtful gift. He is notoriously hard to buy for, so I was chuffed to find something that I thought he’d like. I showed it to the girls (first error), but told them not to tell him what it was, because it was a surprise.

I know that was a little ambitious, but a woman’s gotta try sometimes. Right?

And unexpectedly, they didn’t mention it to him at all. Every week they saw him, and not a word passed their lips. Which lulled me into an entirely false sense of security.

Entirely false.

On Saturday, my dad arrived. After a bit of a play with the girls, I handed him his present, all wrapped up in brightly coloured wrapping paper. Still Big Girl and Little Girl kept schtumm. I was pretty sure we were home and dry.

We were not.

He opened all of his cards, then started on the present. And as he lifted the first flap of the paper, Little Girl piped up and said, “It’s a chopping board.”

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Thanks a lot, Little Girl. I won’t be doing that again!

*

Just in case I’ve begun to sound a touch pessimistic, (Me? Never!) here’s one last bonus tip:

Always Accept The Hug.

Even if it comes with a prize. (N.B. The prize is usually some form of bodily fluids.)

Because there’s not much better than a little head resting on your shoulder, or a pair of arms clasped tightly around your neck. And as the children grow, they are so busy that a proper, big snuggle is something that they can barely take time out to ask for. I savour every one. Even the middle of the night ones, and the soggy ones, and the needy, screamy ones.

They’re almost as good as the thrill you get from jumping really, really high on a trampoline. And thankfully, without the unpleasant side effects.

Win/win.

Tools For Maternal Rest Prevention

Being small is not easy.

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Yeah, tell me something I don’t know!

But being really small is even harder. Not matter how much kids stomp, glare or demand, people just don’t take them seriously. Adults don’t realise, when peering down from their lofty heights, that it is vitally important that they do kids’ shit for them. Like, right the fuck now.

I can kind of empathise with them, really. I would be pretty pissed off if all the fun, dangerous shit was constantly out of my reach, and getting on the couch felt like climbing Mount Everest. And I’d be steaming if my (obviously) reasonable demands were met with a pat on the head and an affectionate laugh.

Not funny. Ok?

I can’t say I’m a fan of the skills they have developed to overcome these frustrating limitations, though. Not that this makes them hesitate, even for a moment. In the face of a complete inability to control their own lives or the lives of others, overcompensation is vital. And urgent.

The main target – me. Or, more specifically, my downtime. I can’t say I have much of this at the moment. Time sitting down could be time spent running the hoover around, preparing dinner, or something equally riveting. Now, I’m not saying don’t deserve a bit of rest, because trust me, I fucking know I do. But there’s just not enough time.

So when I do, I really need it. Really, really need it. Maybe it’s ten minutes waiting for dinner to cook, or a little time in the afternoon. I sink into the pillowy depths of my couch… Well ok. Maybe not. My couch just ain’t that comfy. And it’s leather so it’s more of a slithering action, rather than sinking.

But you know, whatever.

My bones are aching, my eyes are heavy. My head is overwhelmed with to do lists and organisation. After double checking that everyone is engaged in wholesome and educational activities…

TV. They’re watching TV.

But anyway, I collapse with a sigh, and luxuriate in a brief few minutes where nothing and nobody requires my attention.

That’s when they pounce. And it’s not random, high-pitched attention seeking. Oh no, sometimes that would be preferable. It’s a coordinated effort, carefully designed to make relaxation an impossibility.

It wouldn’t do to go through life without mixing it up a little bit. To repeat the same action over and over would get a touch boring, no? Any old kid can pretend to trip over in the same place and cry for sympathy the very second her mother’s arse hits the chair. But that kind of casual behaviour doesn’t work for long. That’s why my kids have started to get creative.

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Irritatingly creative.

Here’s a few examples of their frequently used tools for maternal rest prevention.

1. The Bath Toy Attack

Squeak has just adopted this as her preferred mode of attack. Obviously I didn’t get an advance warning of this. Which is a bit shit. I have a the-toddler’s-climbing-the-stairs radar, and a someone’s-pootling-around-upstairs-after-bedtime radar. So why, exactly, can’t I have a this-kid’s-thinking-up-some-mischievous-shit radar?

I have to admit, it’d improve my life massively.

But sadly, I ain’t got it. So Squeak’s new, fun trick came as a delightful surprise.

She has become a little attached to a couple of bath ducks recently. You know, in that slightly creepy, obsessive way small toddlers have. She carries them around with her everywhere, periodically announcing , “Guckie!”

All fairly standard, thus far.

That’s part of the plan. She spent days innocently carrying those ducks around. You can forgive a woman for becoming complacent.

Until…

The other day, I was desperately in need for a rest. Just a little one. So I got myself comfortable on the couch. I can confirm that every child was happily engaged in some sort of activity that makes sense only to them. Or so I thought.

I made one critical error. Just one. But that was all it took.

Ladies and gentlemen, I closed my eyes.

I know. I know, ok? It was stupid. For clarity, I most certainly did not fall asleep. Even I’m not that dumb. It was more of a long blink.

Squeak clocked it, though.

Did she run off to do something ill-thought-out and (probably) dangerous? No. Did she take the opportunity to shove something small as far up her nostril as she could reach? No.

So what’s the problem, then? Well, Squeak is trapped deeply in the joyful phase that is separation anxiety. Yes, still. But it has ramped up most epically in the last few weeks. She didn’t see my briefly closed eyes as a chance to cause some righteous chaos.

To her, it was reckless parental abandonment. Because, horror of all horrors, I couldn’t see her. She might as well have been all alone, for all she cared.

Alone.... or worse.

Alone…. or worse.

And that’s just un-fucking-acceptable.

I really hate bath toys. However much you shake them out, a little pool of water always remains inside.

Did you know that that water is absolutely freezing cold?

Well, it is. Especially when it splats you in the face with approximately zero warning.

Rest time is over.

2. The Sleep Cry

I’ve touched upon this before. I wish I could say that only one of the kids does this. But honestly, it’s all of them.

I can’t say that I do a massive amount of relaxing in the evening any more. There’s too much tidying up to do, and getting all of the uniforms and food ready for the next day. I’m sure I could neglect it all and doss about on the couch, but I’d soon be regretting it once morning came.

I do try, though. In between the ironing and settling Squeak down for the millionth time (ish), I sit down to do something mindless and unproductive. Like listening to music, or Facebooking, or flapping my empty, childfree arms.

Ok, I don’t really do the last one. Yet. I’m going to give it a go tonight.

That is when they strike. Little Girl and Squeak, anyway.

“Waaaaaaah,” I hear through the baby monitor. Or a moan snakes its way down the stairs from Little Girl. I sigh.

Or swear and roll my eyes to the heavens. Whatever.

I trudge upstairs and enter the bedroom, only to find…

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A child in a deep, unbroken state of unconsciousness. Grrrr.

And you can guarantee that as soon as I sit down again, they’re just gonna do it again. It’s like they have a sensor that activates the second they sense me stealing a moment for myself.

Oh, you noticed I didn’t mention Big Girl there? Well, that’s because she plays this an entirely different way. She lies in wait until after I’ve gone to bed. Then, as I read and wind down, as my heavy eyes begin to droop, she takes a deeeeeeeep breath.

Maybe she sits up, maybe she stays where she is. I’ve never caught her in the act, so it’s a mystery to me. But what she does do, is yell, “Fleebly-moo-sleep-grobulaaaaaarrrrrrr!”

Which, as you can imagine, is not the most effective sleep aid I’ve ever tried.

3. The Up-Down Routine

Squeak is an indecisive little creature. It’s an occupational hazard of being a constantly learning whirlwind of a toddler. She has no idea what she wants from one moment to the next.

But she is very, very sure of what she doesn’t want. And she’s not shy about letting me know, either.

As soon as I sit down, Squeak is alerted to the sudden appearance of a baby arse-sized area on my body. So she gallops over, and raises her arms to me in the universally recognised sign for, “Pick me the hell up right now, woman.”

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

So I do. I’m not daft enough to think that a simple refusal would be enough to prolong my rest time. Squeak doesn’t do well with distraction. She’s a single-minded hellcat, and she’s not going to forget what she wants just because I waggle a noisy toy in her face.

Don’t even ask me what happens if I commit the grievous crime of trying to cuddle her while she is still standing on the floor.

That shit’s just not satisfying.

I wouldn’t mind so much if she was happy once I’d picked her up. But that would be far too simple, wouldn’t it? Instead, before I’ve even sat her down she’s thrashing and straining to be put on the floor.

So I do. Where she emits an earsplitting, explosive shriek and throws herself facedown on the floor.

Once she’s made that point, she bounces back up with a stricken expression on her face, and waves her arms at me again.

Then she slides down my leg again.

Then…

You get the fucking message. It’s reeeeaaaally annoying.

4. The Toilet Trip

I think most parents will agree that kids don’t choose the most convenient times to need the toilet. It’s always as soon as you get in the car after a trip out, or three seconds after leaving the bathroom.

Or as soon as their mother has folded her aching body into a chair.

Apparently, that’s the best time to do it.

Big Girl and Little Girl can both use the toilet independently. I made sure of that, because frankly I’m far too lazy to be running up and down the stairs all day.

The only problem is, they keep forgetting.

And so I hear the shout of, “Muuuuuuum!” from upstairs much more frequently than I prefer. I try to just call up to remind them to do it themselves, but then I am reminded of the incident when Little Girl climbed into the toilet, and I find it hard to resist the urge to leg it up the stairs.

Who, me? Nah, I didn't do nuffin'.

Who, me? Nah, I didn’t do nuffin’.

Just to double-check, you understand.

Of course, that kind of scenario is thankfully rare. More regularly, all I find is a small child who has mysteriously forgotten how to wipe her own arse.

5. The Pain Cry

In a busy house full of activity and chaos, there is only one guaranteed way to grab everyone’s attention in a time-efficient manner.

That is, to scream and scream in the manner of someone who has just accidentally amputated, at the very least, a toe.

They’re not daft, kids. They know that it’s possible, in some cases, to tune out annoying noises, minor complaints and a small voice saying, “Mummy mummy mummy mummy mummy.”

Obviously I pay attention to them most of the time, but sometimes I swear they’re just saying it out of habit.

So it is essential to acquire a truly earth-shattering roar, that causes every person in a 3-mile radius to come running.

Sure, it’d suffice to gain the attention of your family.

But what kid ever did something catastophic by halves?

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

6. The Come And See

Little Girl is an epic crafter. She loves to draw and paint and cut paper into tiny pieces and sprinkle it on the floor.

Which I embrace and encourage. Obviously.

Most of her afternoons after school are spent scribbling on various pieces of paper. Thus far, I have managed to dissuade her from taking a pen to the wallpaper, but I can see the temptation glinting in her eyes.

As an aside, she has inherited Big Girl’s propensity for drawing me with a massive head and a tiny, tiny body. I try not to take it personally.

Naturally, she is very proud of her work, and she loves to share it with me. But there’s only one thing about it that really grinds my gears.

She’s drawing on paper. I would challenge you to find a more portable medium than paper. It’s light and compact, perfectly easy to carry, in other words.

Will she bring it over to show me?

mila tap tap

Oh, no.

What actually happens is that she sits on her crafty throne, intermittently yelling, “Muuuuuuum! Look what I done!” And it doesn’t matter if I’m purposefully engaged or just dossing around, it is preferred (nay, expected) that I will come running immediately.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that the consequences for not coming to her will be dire.

That’s all for now. I did have more to write, but most of my typing time has been spent with a baby doing number 3 on the list. It was wearing.

I’m sure it can’t just be me with this problem. So tell me, what do your kids do to disturb your five minutes of peace?

Things I Have Learned This Week

So I think it’s safe to say that the last almost-fortnight has been a bit of a learning curve for me. I have tapped into wells of strength within me I didn’t know existed, and begun to adapt and adjust our routine to work with only one adult in the house.

With that has come an unexpected education. I’d like to say I was learning about myself and growing as a person, but honestly, when the fuck did you think I’d manage to fit that in? No, I’m talking about the small things, the little discoveries I have made along the way. Some of them have been taught to me by the hellcats I call ‘my children,’ but some of them are all mine.

Here’s a few for you to sink your teeth into. (And by a few, I mean I was too lazy to count how many there are. Deal with it.)

Three In A Bath = A Soaking

This was my first welcome into our new routine. And holy hell, did it throw me in at the deep end (such a shit pun, sorry, but I can’t think of anything else to replace it with!) Big Girl and Little Girl used to be showered by their dad while I swished Squeak round in the kitchen sink. As much as showers are quick and convenient, this was never going to work now. I needed to switch it up, so all of them were trapped in the same place.

Did not anticipate how much more work three kids were in a bath.

I’ve bathed two before, many times. Yeah, it was splashy and stuff, but it had nothing on throwing an extra one into the mix. I have been fucking drenched every. single. night.

I don’t even know how it happens. They spend the whole time sitting down, playing with a few toys. There are no cannonballs into the tub, and certainly none of the sliding down the slanted side me and my sister used to do as kids. (Thank God!) But by the end of it, my glasses are misted with a thousand droplets of water and I need a full change of clothes.

And somehow, perplexingly, the girls’ hair is still dry at the end of it.

How? Just how?

You Can Turn A Grape Into A Raisin In Your Own Home

This one comes from the quirky brain of Big Girl. Although I suspect you guys may have already guessed that.

Just before Christmas, Big Girl took rather a shine to a grape at breakfast. She called it Pea, and stored it in an empty Christmas card box. You’ll note that I say this as if it was entirely normal. Well, I guess ‘normal’ is slightly skewed in our house, because it didn’t raise half an ounce of surprise in me.

Being the responsible mother that I am, I probably should have checked for mould, or some shit like that. But um, I forgot. So… yeah.

She checked it regularly for signs of dehydration, in the manner of a teeny tiny scientist. Surprisingly, it did not decompose, or sprout orange fuzz. In fact, it looks like an enormous raisin.

Big Girl is rather proud of her Pea’s achievement. It is no longer relegated to a dark cardboard box,  but has pride of place in a little tub on the kitchen counter. It has been joined by two green companions, but I’m not sure if they have names. Yet.

So it turns out that it takes almost two months for a grape to turn into a raisin without applying heat or whatever magic they do to make them shrivel up into rabbit droppings. Interesting.

Just one problem. Now, she wants to eat it.

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After Ten Comes…

Little Girl has been learning about letters and numbers at preschool. She’s doing great with the letters. She can recognise them all, make the sounds, sing the fucking annoying but irresistably cute Jolly Phonics rhymes for each one, and has even started trying to read a few simple words. For a child who still isn’t sure of the answer to, “Do you need the toilet?” I’m quite impressed.

But when it comes to the numbers, I’m not entirely convinced that she is paying attention. She knows them up to ten, and can show me the right amount of fingers for each one. But after ten, it all starts to get a bit… squiggly.

Instead of trying to explain it to you, I’ll just give you a direct quote. “Eight, nine, ten, one-teen, two-teen, swee-teen…” Hmm, not quite.

And you’d think she was sorted after that, because the next numbers at least follow the rule she’s established in her head. But no. Fourteen doesn’t exist anymore. Fifteen occasionally makes an appearance, and after that she just babbles nonsense until she gets the giggles.

We’ll work on the counting thing.

There Is No Time To Relax

Here’s one from me. It is something which is really confusing me, to be honest.

I have no time to sit down in the evening. At all. Except for the time I’m taking out to write this for you lucky people, and I think I may regret it when I have to stay up late to get everything ready for school tomorrow.

I don’t get it. I used to watch films, and play games, and sit staring at a computer screen for hours with my feet up and a nutritionally invalid snack beside me. Yet somehow the house was still passably tidy, and everything got done.

Now, I’m running around as soon as the kids have settled down, until it’s time to collapse into bed next to a baby who I swear can smell me. It’s quite shit, actually.

I am hoping that once my routine is all figured out I’ll get a bit more time to vegetate a little. I am not naturally inclined to constant physical activity. In fact, I am positively activity-averse. So this set-up is not exactly working out for me right now.

It’s doing wonders for my muscles though. I’m going to be so freaking ripped in next to no time.

<flex>

Benefits Forms Are Epic

You know when you plan to have kids, and you work out how your house is going to work, and who is going to do what? Well, we agreed that I would be a stay at home mum, while the kids were small.

Well, when this kind of shit happens, that means that you’re entirely fucked over. Three children (and the accompanying phenomenal childcare bill that would go with them) and six years out of the workplace are not exactly an attractive employment prospect. I had planned to start looking for a job pretty soon but that, along with all of my other plans, is now on hold.

And so I have had to take the only option available to me, and claim benefits. And frankly, it really pisses me off. This is not how I expected my life to turn out. But when it’s a choice between eating and not, you just have to suck it up.

So I did all the right things, made all the phone calls and so on. And what landed on my doorstep but a couple of copies of War And Peace, or so it seemed. I’m serious. I could wallpaper the bathroom with the forms I was sent over the past few days. I mean, it’d look shit, but there’d be good coverage.

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And some of the questions are so confusing! I pride myself on being quite a smart person, but I was just baffled. Luckily, I have a couple of friends ‘in the know,’ who guided me through the process.

Now I’m just playing the waiting game as I hoard the money I have.

Lentils for tea, kids?

Squeak Can Understand “Sit Down”

I am blown away at the moment by the sheer amount of language Squeak can understand. My last experience of this stage of development was with Little Girl, who gave it a big “Fuck you,” and did her own thing. But Squeak gets so much. She knows when it’s dinnertime, and when I want a kiss, and I know she understands when I say I’m going to get her coat because she legs it away as fast as she can and hides behind the arm of the couch. (Hint, kid: you’re taller than the couch. I can see you.)

One of the things Squeak is really into at the moment is her ‘dooz.’ In people-who-don’t-shit-their-pants language, that means shoes, by the way. She loves her shoes. She fetches them herself every day and waves them in front of my face until I put them on her. And because of that, she now understands when I ask her to sit down. Incentivised learning, anyone?

It would probably be more successful if she was actually any good at sitting down. But she isn’t. She just bends her knees and prays that she will land on her bottom, rather than face-planting on the carpet.

Ouch.

Face-planting aside, it’s really fucking cute. But that is not what I’m talking about here.

The other day, I discovered that Squeak is capable to transferring her sitting down skill to other situations. More specifically, the situation where I inwardly shriek, “Oh my shit! The safety gate fell off the kitchen doorway again and she’s about to fall head first down the step! Fuuuuuuuuck! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!”

Ok, the last bit was not shrieked inwardly.

But I can now say that Squeak can get down the kitchen step safely, thanks to her goddamn ‘dooz.’

Yay for Squeak.

Having No One To Say Good Night To Sucks

Go on, get your tissues out for this sad fucker!

Seriously though, don’t get to feeling sorry for me now. It’s not good for my image. And this is more of a little niggle than anything else.

Every evening, I put the kids to bed. I come downstairs and put some music on to keep me company while I do the thousand tasks that need doing. When they are done, I switch off the music.

And it is quiet.

All of the children are sleeping. The house is silent. I don’t even have a small bird cheeping in my ear any more.

I turn out the lights and head upstairs. Still silent. I tuck the girls in and kiss their foreheads, and slide into bed next to Squeak. She looks like she’s sleeping, but I know she’s faking it.

It’s not that different to how it used to be. But it is, just a little bit. And that little bit is just enough to make me feel a little maudlin, and lonely.

It is nice to have someone to say good night to.

People Are Wonderful

This is probably my most favourite discoveries I have made in the last two weeks. I knew that I had some fantastic friends and family, but I guess you never really know how good they are until your back is against the wall and you feel as if your world has fallen apart.

The support I have had from everyone I know, including you lovely people, has kept me going recently. I feel safe. I know that if I fall apart, I have people ready and willing to pick me up, dust me off and help me to start again. It is a very empowering feeling. I am stronger as a result of it. I can keep on keeping on because, all of the time, I remember the supportive messages, the hugs and the tears.

Thank you.

Laughter Really Is Medicinal

When I found out that my relationship was over, I thought I would never laugh again. My heart felt dead. I was sure that never again could I feel any joy, never.

How fucking wrong was I?

I have laughed every day. It helps that the children are amazingly funny. I can’t help but take pleasure in the little things they do. The jokes, the funny faces, the dances and the general silliness.

For example, tonight Squeak experienced a touch of frustration, which led to her letting out an almighty yell and launching a maraca across the room. Big Girl took one look at her, raised an eyebrow and without missing a beat, said, “Think you’re angry? You’re hilarious!”

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Ahem. Someone’s been listening to her mother.

I can’t help but giggle at them. And I feel a little lighter every time I laugh. My body relaxes, my brow unfurrows and I genuinely feel happiness.

Also, it appears that I often use humour to get me through the tough times. I guess I just never noticed.

Tell me you spot the sarcasm there. Please.

So I can’t help but crack jokes and laugh with friends. It’s good because it’s normal. I don’t have to act differently, or be treated differently. I am still me, and I like funny shit.

There’s one other thing that is truly medicinal. Hugs. The feel of the girls’ arms tightly clasped around my neck, their cheeks against mine, the warmth of their breath tickling my ear… it’s just the most beautiful sensation in the world. And then there are the hugs from friends. I can feel their emotion and their love for me in them, and that makes me feel pretty damn good.

Thanks again.

Fingers Have Names

I’m going to close with another little lesson from Little Girl. I have noticed that at their preschool they have taught them the names of each finger. No, I don’t mean they call them Dave or something. I’m talking ring finger and all that here.

Well today, Little Girl decided to educate me a bit on the different fingers on her hand. Which led to her striding around the living room, middle finger up on each hand like some kind of miniature Eminem, chanting, “Dese are da middle ones!”

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I’m not going to forget that one in a hurry.

On Courting Disaster

People often say that bad things come in threes. I disagree. I would say they come in eleventy-millions. That’s how it feels at the moment, anyway.

In my opinion, going through such a trauma as what happened last week should give me and the girls a get-out-of-jail-free pass for… oh, a few millenia or so? But life doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’m starting to think that there is a seriously vindictive bastard out there somewhere, whose sole job is to fuck with me.

And I'm not even talking about the kids, this time.

And I’m not even talking about the kids, this time.

On Friday morning our pet budgie chose, with impeccable timing, to die. Half an hour before school. I mean, what the fuck? Cut a woman some slack here! Of course Big Girl and Little Girl found him, I expect you guessed that. What a fucking shitstorm.

Somehow I managed, tearfully, to get them into school. I was tempted to just keep them off, but I figured that they’d at least be busy and distracted all day. And it left me with only one child to occupy while I engaged in Operation Bird Removal.

Now there’s a job I would have usually passed over to my partner. But not any more!

I wouldn’t allow myself to be bested by an animal that doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. Not even if I loved him. So, through floods of tears, I slowly dismantled his cage. I sniffed and I sobbed and I howled. Was I crying about the bird? A little bit. But I suspect that mostly I was releasing a lot of the pain I was feeling about the loss of the life I had hoped and planned for.

Never did I think being a funeral director for an animal could be so therapeutic.

I placed him on a kitchen roll bed in a shoe box, and left him in the corner of the kitchen until the girls came home from school. That evening, we had a little birdie funeral. They drew him pictures, and we said our goodbyes. It was so fucking sad. But they were so brave, and just wonderful. When we were done, I pulled them into a soggy floor-cuddle, and there we stayed for a while. Then Big Girl looked at me and said, “I don’t want to cry any more. It makes my throat hurt.”

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Kid, I fucking hear you!

I am finding that I am really missing that little bird. Sure, he was a grumpy little shit who never let the theme tune of my favourite programmes go by without squawking his damn head off, but he was mine.

The next story is a touch funnier, although it wasn’t at the time! On Sunday morning, I took the kids out shopping for the usual mundane crap: milk, washing powder, yawn. Our little shopping centre has a bit of raised flooring, with steps and slopes and handrails. Remember the handrails, they play a big role in this.

So we got all the stuff we needed, and began to make our way home. The girls always want to go up the steps and run down the slope. It was quiet, so I just left them to it. Big Girl made it down with no problem. But not Little Girl…

Can you see where this is going?

I was chatting with Big Girl when I heard a shriek of epic proportions. I looked up, hoping and praying that, just this one time, the sun would shine on me and give me a break.

Nope, still cloudy.

At first, it was hard to see what the matter was. So Little Girl helpfully clarified with a high-pitched yell of, “I STUUUUUCK!!!”

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Fucking hell.

She had decided that, instead of running down the slope, it would be an excellent idea to walk between the handrail and the wall. It was not an excellent idea. It was a spectacularly shitty idea, in fact.

But I think she’d worked that out for herself by then. Because she was absolutely and completely wedged in there.

It was at that exact moment that I decided that someone, somewhere, seriously had it in for me.

I tried to calm her, but she was freaking out. I tried to get her head out, but it was really stuck in there. And how many genius ideas did I have to fix this problem?

None. My mind was completely blank. All I could think of was the humiliation of having her cut free by firemen. I know a few of my friends would be positively delighted with that occurrence, but that’s just not how I roll.

Thankfully, someone with a functioning brain passed by, and suggested that I walk her backwards until the gap widened a bit and she could escape. Which was really fucking obvious, actually. I mean, she had to get in there somehow, right? So we did it.

And, thank God, it worked. She sobbed and clung to me, and I may have shed a few tears as well.

Now just to put up with the four months of repetitive telling of the story from Little Girl, every time we go shopping.

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Yay.

There was one more, fairly trivial but extremely irritating thing which happened this week. My hoover developed reflux.

Yes, reflux. Oh, you know what I mean. You spend ages hoovering the carpet. Then you stand back to admire your handiwork, turn off the hoover, and sigh as everything you just picked up is regurgitated from the end of the nozzle.

So fucking annoying.

I wasn’t going to let a little plastic piece of crap get one over on me, though. My carpet is clean now, and the hoover has been relegated to the rapidly expanding rubbish pile.

This much.

Fuck you, hoover.

As much as I feel buried under the enormous, cascading pile of shit that has been thrown on me recently, I will endure and try to focus on the positives. There are small victories, and I am grabbing them and holding them close to me to keep me going. Here is one.

Little Girl really, really hates mushrooms. With a passion. If one accidentally passes her lips, it results in a reaction akin to cyanide poisoning. Retching, gagging, the works. (I’m pretty sure that’s not how people react to cyanide poisoning, but take a look and see if I care.)

Well, I wrote that a bit wrong. Little Girl hated mushrooms.

The other day, I made a lasagne. And I put loads of mushrooms in, because Big Girl and I love them and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. I think she can always pick them out if she hates them so much.

That day, however, she surprised me. She shoved a mushroom in her mouth, chewed, swallowed and declared, “I like mushrooms now!”

Man, my kids are so fucking awesome.

Just like their mum.

Just like their mum.