Sunday 14th January 2007
Sunday, and the exotic outings have been and gone. I’d go out to the local boutiques for a spot of window shopping, but I’d have to go alone and lonely is definitely unglamorous. All my friends, mums too bar Fox (who’s in Bristol, and no good to me there) are busy with their families, and so off the radar. Or at least that’s what I tell myself: they may well be similarly sitting at home, dying to have an hour out in a café with a friend, a well-deserved girly break - but imagining, just like me, that everyone else is happily ensconced doing wonderful family activities.
As I wait for the kids to stop arguing over their 11 o’clock carrot and raisin cereal bars, I quickly turn to the last page of the FT “How to Spend It” weekend magazine supplement - my favourite, sadly not for the reason that I seek that sort of advice. The column is entitled ‘Perfect Weekend’, which says it all: I’m temporarily transported into the lifestyle of a famous designer. True to type, his weekends (in Paris, London, New York or Tokyo) whether with or without family, children and friends, usually consist of a lot of outings to fascinating places, dining well in the best restaurants, entertaining interesting guests at home in effortless style and viewing the latest movies (private home cinema?). All in all, a most relaxing break from being super-productive, thoroughly career-satisfied, and embraced by the world as a genius! My typical Sunday, in comparison, would read like this:
“Woke up, rounded up and dressed the kids, cleaned their teeth, cleaned mine, hurriedly made the family breakfast (all starving), cleared up after breakfast, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, cleared up the bedrooms, loaded and put on the washing machine. All in my pyjamas, managed finally to have a shower at 11.30 am. Then made lunch, cleared up again, swept the floor, entertained the children
(trying to control the felt-tip pens being waved around: weapons of mass scribbles). A cup of tea while hubby sleeps off lunch (and a hard week at work) in front of the sports updates on Sky. A quick outing to the park in the afternoon (dealing with squabbling siblings) before preparing the kids’ dinner, then our dinner, then clearing up again and so the day ends with a spot of television, probably a Sky repeat of ‘Have I got News for You!” Have I not got news for me, I tend to think, wryly.
From where I am sitting I can see the thin layer of dust sitting underneath the dining table, just waiting to be swept up. Surely a crisp and invigorating winter day like this deserves more.
Kal was supposed to go to a midday birthday party today but seeing as we were all feeling too lazy to get up early, by the time I’d sorted out the house and clothed and fed two children and put on the washing it was past half past ten, with me still in my pyjamas (what did I tell you?!).
‘If you’ve going to take the little man to his party you’d better make it quick, eh, or the day will be over before it’s begun!’ intones my other half while calmly tucking into his third breakfast of the day (my stomach meanwhile feels achingly empty as I haven’t had a moment to eat yet). Somehow I enjoy weekday mornings more than Sundays, as at least I feel I’m out and about early with a purpose in life. Sundays seem to represent the worst in domestic inactivity. I glance at the gaudy party invitation. A zoo and adventure playground: perfect party venue for Mums who don’t want their houses trashed by 30-odd children (allowing for siblings) and 25-odd parents, or whose staff doesn’t work on weekends to clear up after them. Probably a mixture of the two, meaning possibly an hour’s drive through the weekend London traffic. And I’m not even dressed yet. And I need to eat!
‘You’d have to leave right now to get there on time!’, states my husband matter-of-factly, glancing at my baggy pyjamas covered in toast crumbs and then burying his head in the F.T. I am about to open my mouth to suggest that he take Callum instead, but the answer is pretty-much pre-guessable so I shut it again and hide the invite under a pile of newspapers. Luckily, I hadn’t prepped Callum by mentioning the party, at least not today, although the present is sitting neatly wrapped on the top of the fridge where I’d perched it away from Angel’s curious little fists. I’m already squirming with guilt at allowing my son to miss out on jungle climbs and a load of raucous fun with his friends, and myself to miss out on the rare treat of sticky cupcakes (as well as a good gossip). I just hope that Callum’s friends don’t talk about the party at school on Monday so that he realises his naughty Mummy somehow forgot to include him in the fun.
Banishing all thoughts of maternal guilt, I urge the kids to have an afternoon rake-around in their large garden sandpit on legs instead: perfect, Callum loves construction and Angel loves destruction...but they discover to their horror that since I’d forgotten to put the cover back and it’s been raining in the interim, there’s now a large pool of water in it with various brightly-coloured plastic implements and sand moulds floating around like flotsam and jetsam. This upsets Angel considerably as she quite rightly says that it’s a sandpit and not a pond - red face, tears and stamping feet result. I feel like screaming, but as every Mum knows there are good and bad days. Yesterday (Saturday) was good. And today (Sunday) not so good. A mixed weekend!