Home alone

12 Dec

This weekend I needed my mum. Unfortunately for me, but certainly a relief for her, she had to take the ferry home to Ireland last Friday. She has her own very busy life and I cope without her most of the time, but I’d love it if we lived close to one another. We have a good time together. I really appreciate her help and she’s one of the only people who can make me see sense when the shit comes down.

My best friend doesn’t have a mum, because she died when he was seven. He feels sad about this and so do I. It’s amazing how, if mums are good, they seem to make everything alright. Dads too for some, but just not mine. My sister also seems to make everything all right, but this weekend she was away in New York for her honeymoon. I was looking after her son, my nephew, and so essentially was a mother of four for three days.

On Wednesday last week I mentioned the coming weekend to my husband and asked what we might do with the children. I imagined a trip to a museum or a long walk in the park. Two adults, four children. It was a good balance. “You know I’m working all of this weekend, don’t you?” Well, no I didn’t actually, but considering the rubbish week we’d had I began to think it wiser if we spent a couple of days apart. I mean, how hard could looking after four children all on your own actually be? Women all over the world have looked after triple that amount and in days when washing machines didn’t exist and men came in to eat their dinner and impregnate them before leaving for work again. I had it easy.

Now, looking back on a weekend of being housebound with four minors, it was hardcore. If three seems like one too many, four is one step closer to the nervous breakdown I’ve been keeping at bay for a while now. I can only liken it to how painting the Forth bridge might feel: once I’d dealt with one child’s demands or outpourings (mostly emotional for the older ones and more physical with the younger) I had to start all over again when I’d finished with the last. There were fevers, upset stomachs, vomiting, teenage style tantrums,teething problems, Dr Who nightmares and a whole barrage of sleep-deprivation related problems. I’m still trying to hide a sty with some four year old Brolene.

Now it’s all a distant memory I’ll break it down into the lows and the highs:


Saying goodbye to my mother on Friday. She handed me the Calpol, a two-year-old and said “He’s been up all night with a fever asking for his mama. I wish I could take the ferry tomorrow to help you.”

My nephew gagging, then throwing up all over my bed because he couldn’t stand the smell of the baby’s dirty nappy.

The baby throwing up a couple of hours later because he couldn’t stand the smell of my nephew’s shit as I showered it off his legs, post diarrhoea explosion.

Power hosing shit off my nephew’s leg, then trying to break down other more solid bits in the bath with the shower head, because they were not hard enough to be scooped up and put into the loo, but not liquid enough to easily flush down the plug hole .

Discovering Sharpie permanent marker all over the kitchen worktop – my son was having fun drawing some designs onto our “boring” white surface.

Being woken at 2, 3, 4, 5 and  6am, then finally thinking, “I may as well get up now. Who needs sleep?”


Finding some Medised in the bathroom cabinet. My singing certainly wasn’t soothing the children, so medication was the only way for me and for them.

Discovering that the baby had another tooth. He hadn’t screamed in my ear for two hours in the middle of the night just to be difficult.

Seeing my 10-year-old daughter in a good light. She looked down at me as I was scrubbing vomit from the carpet and said “You’re having a really hard time aren’t you?” She took the baby into her room for ten minutes. It was a kind gesture and it’s always great to catch her being good, as she’s mostly known for being bad.

Finding some three-week-old dessert wine in the fridge and drinking it whilst gorging on a box of chocolates that my friend had brought around. Being the only adult I could have what the hell I wanted for dinner.

Opening the door to my husband on Sunday afternoon, handing him the baby, saying “God I’ve missed you” and meaning it, then stepping outside for the first time in three days and actually thinking “This London air smells very good.”

Realising that friends really are invaluable. One took the older, healthy ones to watch Hugo on Saturday evening, and other friends cooked us Sunday dinner at their germ-free, lovely house. Again, a friend looked after the sick children at home.

Monday morning: the kids were alright again, and when I handed my nephew back to my sister and said “I’ll have him anytime” I meant it, despite my moaning. She’s done it for me. I’ll do it for her again. I’ll just make sure that my mum’s in the country.

Writing this and realising that all the stuff I’m complaining about is really not that bad. A sty, a stinking carpet and a backlog of vomitous shitty laundry is not a never ending nightmare.


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