Nursery is a marvellous invention, especially as it’s so nearby so we don’t even have to get in the car – LB could practically walk there himself (except imagine what a terrible parent they’d think I was if LB dropped himself off in the morning!)
But it’s amazing how fast the session goes by. All over by 1pm, it means that by the time I’ve got my act together, bought some groceries and tried to squeeze a bit of work in, that’s it, LB’s ‘school day’ is done. And when he gets home, he knows exactly what he wants to do.
“Play wif Mumm-eeeee.”
And so we play – but inevitably, after a while, my list-of-a-hundred-things-I-need-to-do looms large in my mind. So I suggest that I just have to do something and I’ll be back in a minute.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOO,” he roars, his little fists pummelling me with all his might. “STAA-AY.”
“Play trains wif Mummy.”
So I stay longer, pushing a train around and making some accompanying noises. We play a tickling game and I try to remain patient.
I say try because it’s really difficult! In my mind, he could be playing happily while I tick one or two things off my list. But, no, there’s something that in my pre-parenting days I was clueless about: clinginess!
It means that, quite often, both boys sit on top of me on the sofa fighting over me, I walk round with a screaming child attached to my leg, and have to do everything one-handed because the other arm is being pulled in a different direction.
It’s a special behaviour reserved for mummies.
And I should have known I’d find it challenging: I had a clingy cat once (for 10 years!) and that was hard enough.
This afternoon we did manage to come to a few compromises. LB let me make a cup of tea without screaming, on the proviso he got his fourth ‘pink milk’ of the day, and played by himself for a while after I obeyed orders to “SIT on SOF-AH and watch.”
(I know I spend way too many evenings happily sitting on the sofa, but somehow being immobilised on the couch during the day is as frustrating as looking at our lovely garden and not being able to use it.)
When BB gets home from school around 3.20pm, the dynamics change as I’m suddenly outnumbered.
“How was school?” I enquire brightly, hopeful that one day he’ll actually tell me what he did.
The TV goes on while he decompresses and the three of us sort-of-get-along for the rest of the afternoon, while I field demands from left, right and centre.
Like, “Mumm-eeeee, I want a mouse!” from BB today.
Then both boys, practically bouncing off the sofa, chanting in unison, “We-want-a-mouse. We-want-a-mouse!”
I know the answer is to start the day expecting to get absolutely nothing accomplished, then when you do achieve zilch it doesn’t feel so bad – or you’re thrilled because you’ve ticked one thing off your list-of-a-hundred. And, perhaps, over the past year, I’ve got a little too used to office life again, which – and I know I keep saying this – is a lot simpler.
At bedtime, the clinginess resurfaces in both of them. We’re trying really hard to get the boys to go to sleep without one of us being in the room. A battle, for me at least (DH makes it look easy-peasy; when I try, you can hear the screams down the road).
Tonight, as I attempted to persuade them that I’d be back to check on them in five minutes, they cried on cue, then BB whimpered, “But, mummee, we really, really like you.”
Despite it being 9.30pm by this time, my heart melted and I had to forgive them for the previous eight-and-a-half hours of clinginess.
And the day will come when they’re not so needy of me and can play together nicely, while I get a few things done.