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