“Fff – Uuuhh – Ccc,” says Molly, carefully sounding out the letters phonetically. “What does that spell Mummy?” she asks with a sheepish look on her face. “I think you know fine rightly what that spells, Miss Molly Parsons,” I say sharply. “You tell me.”
“I think it’s a naughty word, Mummy. A word that we might say it if we’re really tired or very cross.”
Something has been happening to me over the last while. It’s a feeling of almost coming full circle. Like I’m finally settling into a newer version of myself. A little battered round the edges perhaps, but one that still bears a strong resemblance to the old me, except with two crazy kids in tow. And if I had to put a title on it, I’d say it was a feeling of ‘becoming mum.’
The second child always has to settle for a few hand me downs, and one of those for little Henry has been Molly’s cot and mattress. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I never got around to cleaning it, so when the team from Healthy Home messaged to ask me if I’d ever had my kids’ mattresses sanitised, I gulped at the thought of what might be lurking in the fibres. And let’s face it, in the lovely dust bowl we live in, children here seem to pick up coughs and colds faster than you can sneeze. Along with being prone to things like asthma, allergies and eczema.
It’s 4.37am. I mutter a string of expletives as I haul myself out of bed. I spend the next 45 minutes nipping in and out, trying to encourage Henry to have more shut-eye, before he decides he would rather be up for the day. He gives me that grin that says, quite frankly, Mum, it would be boring to go back to sleep. But instead of smiling, I find myself crying. Hot, fat tears rolling down my face, quickly, without warning. I’m cross. Darn cross at the sheer exhaustion of it all. Cross at the fact the day is beginning at sparrow fart yet again. Cross at the fact that I’m already thinking ahead to how wrecked I’ll feel later. Cross over the guilt I’m feeling for even feeling annoyed, when so many people would give anything to be in my shoes.
I have opened my computer so many times over the past few weeks to write to you, but the words somehow wouldn’t flow. I even googled ‘writer’s block’ to see if that could provide me with any kind of inspiration. Instead it threw up the definition for my ‘creative slowdown’ – a condition that ranges from not being able to come up with new ideas for a few weeks, to not being able to produce anything for years. (Bear with me here, the moral of the tale is coming!)
My mum and dad arrive next week. I can’t wait! Mum’s trips to Dubai usually include a whirlwind of organisation – projects that I’ve wanted to do get finished, things that I’ve craved to get in order suddenly get the Beryl treatment. (Beryl and Cheryl – “the rhyming names reflect the closeness of our relationship,” my mum used to tell me.) When the folks are around, stuff just gets done – and, above all, I’m looking forward to someone else making a few darn decisions for a change.
“F*k sake Mummy. Why do we say f&*k’s sake?” Molly asks innocently as we are driving home one day. The husband and I look at each other, slightly horrified, trying to stifle our laughter.
“We don’t say that Molly, it’s not very nice,” I try to explain. “Who says that? Where did you hear that?”
“But Mummy, you do. You say it. All the time, in the morning.”
“You’re so naughty to me Mummy. You’re always cross,” Molly interrupts my bedtime story to tell me. “You need to calm down, Mummy. Just calm down,” she says, gesticulating by waving her hands up and down with her fingers spread wide. She is referring to the fact that I am cross because she won’t lie still and just listen to the darn story. I keep having to stop and start while she tosses about, chats to some of her teddies and then tells me she needs to get up for some water. “Will you settle DOWN! Are we reading this story or shall I just turn off the light?”