Kate is hassled. She is the often failing mother of Ed (7), delightful in a loud, herd-of elephants, trumpeting sort of way, Martha (5) quite self-possessed and very stroppy already and Harriet (2) who is convinced she’s in charge, and often actually is.
6.20: Alarm goes off. Or rather annoying clock radio starts playing ‘Today’ just as the business news starts. Through my sleep fuddled brain I remember that this is Tuesday. If this is Tuesday then I need to get up especially quickly. Ed who has haemophilia has to have one of his IV injections this morning. Preferably while husband is still home so that he can hold his hand (and mine) through the agonising process.
I shower at the speed of light, throw on whichever clothes are on the top of the pile of clean ones which came up from the drier (ahem, a couple of days ago actually) but haven’t yet been put away, and rush downstairs ignoring Hattie’s shouts to be ‘getted from my bed’. Trying not to trip over Martha who is following me like a shadow grumbling quietly, I rush between the bedrooms laying out clothes for Hattie and school uniform, peering with bleary eyes to see if yesterday’s jumpers will do again for at least today. Ed’s usually won’t.
7.am: Ed’s treatment. I find the vein first time thank heavens, so not too much trauma to us all. Ed disappears straight away back upstairs to continue building his enormous lorry terminal which takes up his whole room and involves every bit of furniture, cushion, piece of bedding and wooden bricks he can lay his hands on. Weakly I raise my voice at his retreating back and implore him not to make a mess. This phrase falls on deaf ears.
7.15: porridge on to cook (now a daily must since I watched a programme about salt in breakfast cereals - damn TV). I did remember to switch on loaded dishwasher last night though unlike the night before. This represents an achievement.
Harriet appears downstairs with her dad who has got her dressed. This is his job every morning – hooray. She declares that it’s not rainy enough for a ‘fudd’. She means flood – and has been absolutely obsessed with them since the week before when I had to drive through a flash flood on the way back from picking up the kids from school. Granted actually it was scary – I had a nasty moment when I thought I couldn’t go backwards or forwards. Shades of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. We had to go through it. It’s a big topic for Hattie.
7.20: Packed lunches next: husband’s first and then the kids. Why didn’t I make them last night? What’s wrong with me? Moment’s pain, long-term gain. Remember that. I hate packed lunches. Have to dodge cross teacher husband running around flinging things into his bag and muttering about how late he is again.
7.25: Porridge is served. No – I haven’t finished the lunches yet; I’m multi-tasking. I quickly chop up strawberries and chuck on blueberries – see, how spoilt they are. They would of course infinitely prefer coco-pops and after clearing up the sticky mess which Hattie leaves all over herself and the table, so would I. They’re allowed corn-flakes and things at weekends. Mainly so I don’t have to make the bloody porridge.
7.30: husband leaves for work and children eat their porridge. I finish the lunches dodging Ed’s accusing and critical attempts to see what horrors I’m putting in there. ‘Why can’t we have crisps every day like everyone else?’ is a constant and very tedious refrain.
7.30: I long for peace and quiet, a strong coffee and an almond croissant. Maybe a long and comfortable train commute (first-class? why not) and then a lovely day writing successful and witty pieces in a fun, lively environment. Glass of wine after work? Why not. Etc
7.35: I shoo/usher/yell at kids as they make their way upstairs to get dressed. The notion of brushing teeth before putting on uniforms is somehow so terribly hard to grasp. This is important to a mummy but extremely unimportant to an Ed who often appears back downstairs with toothpaste all over yesterday’s carefully preserved school sweatshirt. Martha shouts several times about what Ed isn’t doing to get ready, while running giggling like a dervish between bedrooms. Butter woudn’t melt with Martha.
7.45: Kids still not downstairs. Plenty of strange and very loud hootings, rumblings and thumpings from Ed’s bedroom. My blood pressure is starting to rise. Sometime ago I came to the startling conclusion that I like quiet in the mornings. Unfortunately I’d already had the kids by then. Meanwhile Hattie is still slowly smearing porridge around the kitchen, eating the fruit but nothing else.
8.00: Kids have been practically dragged downstairs as I can’t bear the noise upstairs. I’m filling school-bags with reply slips for photographs, parents’ evening and payment for music lessons. Both Ed and Martha have been singled out as being musical (cue much maternal pride and bemusement) and have been offered lessons at school on a scheme to nurture early talent. Great of course despite having to lug a cello and violin as well as bags, packed lunches and Hattie up the steep hill to school. Oh and having to pay £20 a week.
Hattie is hosed down and gets down from the table. She immediately tries to take whatever Ed is holding and shrieks when he won’t let her, “Give it, you little boy boy”, which is her most desperate insult. Sometimes mummy is a little boy boy too.
8.15: Martha has her hair brushed and wriggles and complains while I try to put it into a neat pony-tail like other girls have. I am torn between being pleased and annoyed that she is not interested in looking pretty and neat. I wet the brush to tackle Ed’s unruly mop and straighten his collar and check he has his trousers on the right way round. Hattie’s shoes are discovered upstairs in yesterday’s swimming bag (??) and coats are forced on.
8.30: In the car. I put on make-up quickly by rear-view mirror, having realised that I look completely wild. Cello, violin, bags, packed lunches, my hand-bag, shopping bags for exciting trip to Sainsburys, and spare clothes for baby are strewn in the back. And off we go.
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