In bed with Grace

2 Jan


Great in bed

Great in bed

“I’m sure I packed it! I got it down from the kitchen cupboard this morning.”

But soon after emptying the entire suitcase on arrival at my parent’s house in Ireland, I had to admit I’d forgotten my daughter’s Ritalin. I added this to the list of other things I failed to bring: my knickers, all of our toothbrushes and some Tampax.

Naturally, my period started soon after. My mother has not had a period since the mid nineties and my parent’s house, set in a rural backwater, is miles from anywhere that would be open on boxing day. I started to think like a hardcore survivalist stranded on a desert island. All I came up with was a wedge of christmas embossed paper napkins strapped to a pair of my mother’s large, buttock-hugging pants. I bought proper supplies in the morning.

But the Ritalin. No chance. So for more than a week now, my daughter has taken a holiday from medication. And the results, I am pleased to say, have not been catastrophic.

The pills were helping her to concentrate at school, but come 7.30pm when their effects began to wear off, she could become incredibly irritable, frustrated and angry. Despite winding down with a bath every evening, and the occasional massage from me, she would find it hard to sleep.

Often, when I was getting into bed at around midnight, she would still be wide awake in her room. And this would mean that she was surviving on just six hours sleep a night. Barely enough for an adult, let alone an 11-year-old.

I think, then, that leaving the medication behind was not such a bad thing. My  daughter has had a chance to re-charge her batteries, feel relatively normal again and more importantly, catch up on her sleep.

My husband’s idea of a holiday is being left home alone in London with only the cat for company. He occasionally suggests that I might like to stay put while he takes the children away, but he always follows this offer with the words “of course, I wouldn’t be able to cope with all three, so you’d have to keep the youngest.” Not strictly alone then, I reply.

He came out the night before New Year’s Eve, and left on New Year’s day morning. It was his idea of a perfect holiday.

In my mind, a holiday now (because believe me, sandy beaches, cocktails and lie-ins feature heavily in my future life) is one underpinned by familiarity. I don’t want to fill my days with endless activity: in the past, when I have done this, I am usually the one playing at having fun in an attempt cajole the children into having a good time. No. This holiday is about me adopting the role of Waynetta Slob, and I have brought a friend along for company.

We have taken daily dips in the hot-tub (best at night, alone, when the stars are magnificent) but also good in the day with all three children and a beer, possibly in an attempt to pretend that we are larging it up in an exotic location, sans les enfants.

I have also acted on the occasional strong desire to be 15 again. That’s not to say that I have been getting stoned every night, eaten five Kit-Kats in quick succession, and complained about spots and boyfriends. No. I have carefully selected the best bits of teenhood.

Being driven around in the car by my parents. Yes, there is something slightly odd about this, I confess. But having a temporary chauffeur is a relative treat as my husband can’t drive. When I visit my folks I can sit in the back seat and appear extremely generous by allowing my daughter to ride shotgun (a bit like late bedtimes, the front seat doesn’t have the same appeal when you’re an adult). In the back I don’t have to talk to my extremely difficult-to-talk-to father. I can look out of the window and daydream instead.

And bedtime. I am sleeping in the same bed that I had when I was young. It is incredibly comfortable but barely 6ft long. The brass ends are excellent for propping me up in bed when I read (I have devoured the whole of Grace Coddington’s memoir ) or write, as I am now. The cold bars at the end of the bed are excellent for cooling my feet in the middle of the night when I feel hot.

There has been little need for extra-curricular activity. I have my friend, my mother and wine; the children have each other and their grandparents, and for once we are all finding each other amusing. Where my parents arguments would cause me upset as a child, I am finding them entertaining now. They can have a disagreement about anything and everything. Last night my mother lifted the potato masher high in the air when my father suggested that the queen was 23 when she married. “SHE WAS 25!” Unfortunately, my mother was wrong, but she did put the masher down to apologise.

The best way to cook a ham caused another kitchen ruckus.

My father: “In the Rayburn.” My mother: “In the oven because the thermostat on that unpredictable wood burner is fucked.”

They even managed a row over the Hoover. It was 10pm at night, and we had not eaten. They were on the floor, bent over the Hoover’s innards, inspecting the bag with dismay. “Why the hell didn’t you check that you’d put it in right” said my father. “Perhaps if you Hoovered then you’d understand how the thing was supposed to work!” said my mother.


Battling with the Hoover

Battling with the Hoover


My mother tries to solve the problem

My mother tries to solve the problem

I’m watching scenes of dysfunctional domesticity with interest. Every night, my dad likes to dig into the chocolate box before dinner. He reads the menu card like a cryptic crossword, prizing his favourites out with his stubby fingers, a look of glee on his face as they are released from their crackly casing. My children try to join in, but my mother and I shriek: “YOU’LL RUIN YOUR APPETITE.” Naturally, my father is to blame.

If humans get boring, there are always the animals. The new dog likes to find dirty knickers and deposit them around the house, crotch side up, and we have to warn my friend about things like this. She has been a great sport. And the donkeys. They are geriatric, but they still like humping with regularity, even if just to get a leg up to play with highest branches on the trees. The children find this hilarious, although it’s difficult to explain why human penises’ do not grow to such a size, even in adulthood.

Taking a break from humping

Taking a break from humping

Our last couple of days in the countryside will include much of the same. And then it’s back to London, and Ritalin, and wearing proper clothes again. I’m not sure I’m ready.


4 Responses to “In bed with Grace”

  1. Seth January 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Your father looks like he’s having sex with the Hoover x

  2. Leanne White January 5, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    i have missed your blog it makes me smile and when i post it on m fb page i feel smug as i demonstrate what a clever witty mate i have. cant wait to see you

    • mothersruined January 5, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      You’re a very lovely comment maker, Leanne. Thank you x

  3. Alreethinny January 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Loved the blog post, sounds like you all had a great festive break.

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