Thursday, 2 April 2015

One of those mothers

It turns out I'm one of those mothers. You know the ones. The one whose hair isn't quite brushed. The one with unidentifiable sticky stuff squished into her trousers. The one with a tissue with a half-chewed biscuit shoved in her pocket. The one with a handbag (zip broken), a shopping bag (overflowing), a children's bag (discarded half way to wherever we're going), a muslin (damp), a cuddly toy, a plastic shark and a spare hat dangling about her person, charging down the pavement yelling "Stop LittleBear! Wait for Mummy!" The one who is always late. The one who is impressed with herself for arriving at your house within an hour of the promised time, only to discover I've forgotten LittleBear's water bottle, or his hat, or the present for your child's birthday, or the cake I promised I'd bring. The one who gets to the park on a bitter morning in February to find I've forgotten LittleBear's hat and gloves, but I do have a bottle of sunscreen, because having spent all summer forgetting to take the sunscreen out with me and having to cadge off other, more organised, mothers, I finally remembered to put a small bottle in my bag in September and it's been there ever since.

I am categorically not the mother with the perfect make-up, including immaculate false eyelashes and manicured finger nails. I am not the mother with this season's fashion, or high heels, or elegantly coiffed hair, or a petite handbag. In fact, I'm not sure I have a petite anything, handbag, bottom, appetite...

To be fair, even before I was a mother I didn't really do make-up or nails or other feminine fripperies. I'm too lazy. Why spend time applying a second face, which frankly is a bit of a lost cause on the current face, when I could spend the time reading a book or drinking coffee? Nowadays I'd love to have the time to apply a second face in the morning. But I'd still use it for reading a book or drinking coffee. But it's time that's the killer when you have a LittleBear around.

Take yesterday morning for instance (and to be honest, I wish to God you would, because I certainly didn't want it). BigBear and I both have foul coughs/colds courtesy of LittleBear and the plague house that is a nursery, so we're both a bit short on sleep. Tuesday night we set up a rather endearing call-and-response pattern with our coughing. Until I got fed up sometime approaching midnight and banished BigBear to the spare room. So we both woke on Wednesday morning feeling considerably less than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. LittleBear was very bouncy though. Bounce, bounce, bounce into bed with me. Bounce, bounce, bounce on the bed. Bounce, bounce, bounce "Mummy, read the sharks book Mummy!" <long pause from Mummy, with raised eyebrows> "Please Mummy, can you read the shark book please?" Yay! I have a stern look that works! So I croak my way through the shark book, then realise, as usual, that the shark book is longer than I remember and we're already slipping behind the getting-out-of-the-house-on-time schedule, and we haven't even got past step one of getting up.

The book ends.

OK LittleBear, let's go and have a wee and get dressed.

And so begins the first total sobbing meltdown. Apparently going for a wee is boring and he doesn't want to do it. Well, I'm sorry I can't inject entertainment value into all your bodily functions LittleBear, but let's just get on with this. "I'm going to count to three" didn't work. "I'll race you to the bathroom" didn't work. Even the threat of a sad face on the sticker chart didn't work. This was serious. We have a set of rules on a chart - there is a happy side and a sad side. If LittleBear does things that are good and helpful and make BigBear and PhysicsBear happy, he gets a dinosaur sticker. If he does things that make us sad, he gets a sad face. Shouting "No!" when asked to do something? Sad face. Running away when asked to do something? Sad face. Hitting or kicking? Sad face. Making a fuss about going for a wee? Sad face. Not listening to Mummy and Daddy? Sad face. Within a couple of minutes, LittleBear had earned the right to at least 5 sad faces, so with a final warning, he received a sad face. Which prompted an escalation of the sobbing "I don't like getting a sad face". Sigh....

That getting-out-of-the-house-on-time schedule? A vanishing memory. But we must persist.

Wee completed, finally, I get LittleBear into his clothes, with comparatively little fuss and we head downstairs for breakfast. At this point I'm still in my pyjamas, as the system is usually that once LittleBear is dressed he's BigBear's problem responsibility while I shower and dress.

At this point my bears both give me unwelcome pieces of information:

LB: Mummy! The cat's been sick!

BB: I have to be in work early today, I'm catching the 7:40 bus instead of the 8:20.

Ahhhggg! Double Ahhggg! It's already past 7:30, I've lost 40 minutes of BigBear-time, I've got cat sick to deal with, LittleBear to get fed and I'm still in my pyjamas.

Right, pick up the sicked-up furball, cover the patch with kitchen towel and assure myself I'll deal with it later. Chop up melon, make toast, pour milk, tell LittleBear to sit down approximately 73 times.

BigBear makes me a cup of tea. Thank heavens for BigBear. Then he's gone.

LittleBear is at the table, eating. Time for my shower. I'm just heading upstairs when I hear a wail. "Mummy! I've dropped my toast!" OK, shower on hold again, I return to the dining table. The cat is under the table, licking the butter off the toast. Damn it! Toast is supposed to land butter-side down! Why did it have to land the right way up today? Bloody cat. "Sorry, LittleBear, the cat's eating your toast, I'll make you another piece."

Time for another melt-down. A replacement piece is not acceptable. Never mind the fact that he still has one perfectly good piece on his plate, plus a bowl of melon, plus a cup of milk. It was the piece that the cat got that he wanted.

New toast delivered, tears mopped up, and I finally get to have a shower. A quick shower.

As I get out of the shower, a small boy appears in the bathroom to tell me he's finished breakfast. A small boy who appears to have smeared most of the butter from his toast down the front of his shirt. Buttery shirt off... "Mummy! I want to be Naked Baby!" and he starts removing his trousers. Oh please, no, not all the clothes off now... I persuade him to at least keep his trousers on if I promise not to put a new shirt on until it's time to leave the house. Which it basically is already, except I'm not dressed, I haven't had breakfast and there's still cat sick hiding under a paper towel on the sitting room floor.

Somehow, and I no longer remember how, I ate some toast, washed the carpet and drank that blessed cup of tea, most of the time also trying to find my phone, keys, wallet, LittleBear's nursery bag, comforter, coat, shoes, shirt etc.

Meanwhile, and this may become important later, I'd let LittleBear out into the garden to pick a flower for his Magic Chick. He has a little Easter chick in a basket, and if he gives it a flower every day, then in the night it lays a mini chocolate egg. It's something me and BrotherBear did as children, which in retrospect I'm not convinced wasn't a cunning way my mother had of trying to get us to clear the daisies from the lawn... Anyway, feeding the chick is Important and Vital Work, so LittleBear had to go and choose its flower.

Oh shit, we should have already left the house, and the cleaner is coming today so I need to leave it at least vaguely tidy, so I shove everything in the kitchen either into the bin, the washing machine or the dishwasher and I hope I more or less chose the right places.

Right LittleBear, tooth-time!

Noooooooooo! I want to plaaayyyyyyyy! I don't want to go to nursery, it's not fair, I don't like it, I don't like you, nooooooooo!

All said whilst lying on the floor kicking his legs and sobbing. Christ I'm getting tired of this.

This time, racing a shark to the bathroom worked, and we end up with vaguely clean teeth, both of us, and vaguely clean faces. At least, there are no obvious lumps of food on them.

Shirt on (yep, he was still only half dressed). Socks on (why? why do you always take your socks off just before we're trying to go out? WHY?). Shoes on (no, not this time, please not this time, you do not have to climb to the top of the stairs to put your shoes on). Coat on.

I want to say goodbye to Daddy.

Daddy left 45 minutes ago.

Nooooooooo! I wanted to say goodbye!

You did say goodbye. 45 MINUTES AGO.

Finally, an hour and half after he got out of bed I have LittleBear strapped into the car and ready to go.

Half way to the next village I realise I've left the back door open after letting LittleBear into the garden.

Pull over, u-turn in the middle of rush-hour traffic, just dodging the bus, screech back onto the drive, into the house, close and lock the back door, and we're off again. As we tear up the main road across the fens, LittleBear pipes up, "Mummy, why are we driving faster than usual?" Yes folks, I've just been told off for speeding by my three-year old son.

And that is why I'm always late, always scruffy*, always flustered and always about to lose my rag.

* Disclaimer: for as long as I remember, my mother has had a tendency to describe me as looking like The Wreck of the Hesperus, so I may not entirely be able to blame the scruffiness on LittleBear.

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