We’ve taken a risk and started watching a film at 9.30pm. Rock and roll lifestyle this is. By the time it has finished it is almost midnight, The sky is dark, it has been for hours and the house is silent. Performing one’s ablutions seems to make much more noise than at any other time of the day. The electric toothbrush, used manually so as not to wake the children. The toilet left un-flushed. Hand and face washing with minimal pressure from the tap so as not to set the boiler off on a tangent. I creep around, stealth, like a cat. The actual cats are running and jumping around, heavy footed, making clumsy landings from great heights as if to mock my efforts. Once in bed I begin to sleep, interrupted only every two seconds by a small sounding warthog of a snore next to me. A little but effective kick to my husband’s shin and he rolls over and the snoring ceases. If the kids wake at their usual time I will only get five and a half hours sleep, that’s fine I tell myself, easy. Then little miss Fern stumbles into and across the room, sleepily finding her way in the darkness. She pulls herself up with a struggle and settles in between her parents. One of us is asleep, I am thinking what the best strategy is. She is coughing badly. Somehow managing to fall deeply asleep in between each burst. I rest my palm upon her forehead and then upon her father’s to compare their temperature. She’s hot so I go downstairs, creeping, not turning on any lights. So as not to wake George. At the top step, my foot is confronted with the unmoving, unexpected, presence of a feline menace. I save myself from falling down an entire flight of stairs with a hoppedy, skippidy dance, accompanied with an aggressive yet whispered song of colourful adjectives (swear words) directed at the cat.
Administering the medicine is akin to brushing the teeth of the same child. Her lips are sort of, sealed and any attempts at breaking that seal results in instant regret as deafening high pitch shouts are released for roughly five long seconds per assault. She is still coughing, partly her own fault for creating all the drama. So I go back down stairs, every step I take I am like a slow motion hurdle jumper, aware a cat could strike again. While the kettle is boiling I inhale a box of raisins and some chocolate too. Then I search the house, with a torch, for the Olbas Oil. A Pyrex bowl is almost smashed whilst being retrieved from the drawer. Once the vapours are lifting into the air of my bedroom, Fern’s coughing is reduced significantly. Everyone is still asleep. Except the dog, who decides that he would quite like to go outside, being as his owner is up and about, ‘she might as well open the back door for me’. I go back downstairs, stand in the doorway as the cold early spring air bites my toes. Murray wanders back into the house at his leisure and I return from what must be the last trip to the kitchen this evening. On my way, I hear my husband panicking and shouting “don’t touch the water, it will burn you”. Then a shout “she needs her drink re-filling”. Back to the kitchen. Back upstairs. Where have I left my phone/torch? Downstairs. Sigh.
In bed I do a bit of nocturnal shopping and order a humidifier, so that no child of mine gets scalded in instances like these. £50 plus post and packaging evaporates into the air. It’s okay, I still have approximately four hours of sleep. In the morning I am more asleep than usual, I have given George my phone, set up the laptop for Fern and it’s like I’ve done it all without even opening my eyes. When I do open my eyes, some time later, I am face to face with Fern. She is pulling my eyelids apart and telling me it is morning time. She has makeup all over her face. I sit bolt upright and look towards my makeup bag that sits high up on top of a chest of drawers, even standing on a stool the children cannot reach. It is there, safe as houses. But in my peripheral vision I notice my dressing table drawer is open. She did not previously know how to open it, but the devastation demonstrates that now she can indeed open it. The worst hit item is my Charlotte Tilbury flimstar contour pallette, £50 of finely milled, beautifully formulated, packaged in rose gold, mirrored, art deco perfection – destroyed. So this is it, my conclusion is that, for Mothering Sunday, we must shower our mothers with adoration and love. Mum, if I ever gave you sleepless nights, (I’m sure I did) or if I ever wrote on the wall in your favourite lipstick… I’m sorry! Thank you for caring for me and thank you for everything you still do now that I am a 32 year old mother of two.
[Raises glass] To the mum folk!