“You’re looking great!” a friend of mine told me this week. “Seriously?” I reply. “Have you seen these dark circles? And look at this belly!” I say, grabbing a handful of flesh from my mid section. In my head, I’m asking myself if she’s actually seeing the same person that I do when I look in the mirror. I mean, I feel pretty haggered most of the time. I look pretty haggered most of the time. Can she not see that too?
I nearly didn’t write to you this week. It has been one of those weeks. We sold the house. We’re buying a new one. The washing machine broke down. Molly’s visa needed sorting. Henry got sick. I haven’t slept much. The old ladies’ holiday is approaching. Yes, one of those weeks where it feels like someone has written a huge bunch of “to do’s” on separate post it notes, filled a sack full of them and then emptied that sack over your head.
“When will it get better?” asks the weary husband, as we debate the ins and outs of why Henry might be waking like clockwork at 4.30am every morning. “I’m sure it’s just a phase,” I reply as I catch a glimpse of my bedraggled self in the mirror. Ah! “Just a phase.” Those three little words. If I had a pound for every time I heard them (or uttered them to someone else), then I would be a very rich woman!
“I feel like I’m 100 years old!” laments the husband. It’s 3am and we’re lying awake just after Henry’s feed. While he’s back in his cot sleeping peacefully again, Molly has started coughing in her room, interrupting the possibility of sleep yet again. We’re tired. So. Dog. Tired! And in the wee small hours we begin to debate many things: will Henry ever sleep through? Is Dubai the healthiest place to bring up our children? Is our AC full of dust? Will there be a housing crash soon?
It’s the weekend. The day begins at 4.38am with the gentle babbling of baby Henry from his cot at the bottom of our bed. We drift in and out of sleepiness until 5.56am when Molly’s face appears inches from mine. “Mornin’ Mummy,” she says climbing into the bed with her entourage of teddies. Bleary eyes are rubbed, a poo filled nappy changed and bottle dispensed, until half an hour later we’re up and raring to go. (Ok, ‘raring’ might be just a slight overstatement here.)
“Let’s play dollies!” Molly declares, waving her Frozen dolls in my face. “You be Elsa and I be Anna!”
“Ok, let’s pretend they’re going to the park,” I say, bending my knees on the sofa to create a slide for them to go down, in an effort to keep my part in the game horizontal for at least a few more minutes.
“No, let’s go on the bouncy castle!” she cries, making Elsa jump vigorously up and down on my belly. “It’s nice and bouncy, Mummy!”
The setting is Dublin Airport. A toddler is having a full on meltdown over a bag of Haribos. Lying on the floor, arms flailing, legs kicking – screaming: “I WANT the SWEEEETIEEEES!! Give me the SWEEETIEEEES!!!!!” The father is quickly stashing the fodder in question in his pocket while the mother crouches down with a small baby strapped to her chest. She’s trying calmly to reason with the screeching child so as not to cause even more of a scene.
“What are you doing?” I ask the husband who is inserting an ipod headphone into one ear. “Putting some music on so I’m not bored out of my head,” he replies as I settle down for a cat-nap while he navigates the long drive back from Northern Ireland’s North Coast. The husband is referring to the fact that I have developed a dislike for having the car radio on, declaring: “There are just too many levels of noise – toddlers rambling, music blaring and us trying to have a conversation – it’s too much!” In truth, when it comes to the volume button these days, I’ve become a little grumpy.