It’s another dusty, windy Saturday afternoon and I’m drinking tea at a formica table while the boys burn off energy at an indoor play area.
There’s noise, bad music, lurid plastic, flashing lights, crying children and constant interruptions, but this is my downtime – two hours of respite from being the sole parent in charge today.
I’m sure all mums will know what I mean when I say single-handed parenting can sometimes be like doing a marathon in Manolo Blahniks, backwards and with no-one to tag.
From the early morning wake-up calls to tantrums at bedtime, from oldest son’s non-stop, brain-bending questions to youngest son’s refusal to eat anything but chocolate, it always feels like a HUGE responsibility being the only adult on duty at the weekend.
[Said in a hushed voice]: They don’t leave me alone, not even to go to the toilet! And don’t get me started about the fighting.
So when I waved DH off this morning, to the bierhauses and beautiful architecture of Munich, it was with a hint of jealousy on my part, even though I’d actually hate to have to leave home the whole time (and, if the truth be told, I wouldn’t swap roles with him in a million years – nor did I actually see him off as he left even earlier than the kids got up).
But I missed his help when, in the car today while trying to concentrate on traffic, BB started shouting, “MUM, L.O.O.K!! LB’s got his willy out!” – upstaged only by an incident at the supermarket 10 minutes later which saw the Little Boy FLASHING shoppers while my back was turned getting cash from the ATM.
“Enjoy every moment,” well-meaning, nostalgic parents always advise. “It goes by so fast.” And I do try to savour it – just not *this* moment. Or the moment last Saturday when I discovered they’d etched a 1.5 metre-long scratch on the TV cabinet and filled the CD player up with soil.
I’ve actually got off pretty lightly today – on previous occasions when DH has been gone, far worse has happened. I came home from work a few weeks ago to be told, by our nanny, that she’d lost BB that afternoon and found him up on the roof, hollering to our neighbours.
We do have lots of fun, too, when it’s just the kids and me, but it does seem that while the cat’s away, the mice will play up, especially on weekends.
When DH gets back from trips, he scoops up the boys, his eyes shining with joy. “They’re such angels,” he’ll say, turning to me.
I’ve learnt to smile sweetly and respond – in a measured way – “Yes dear. Little angels.”
“Both of them.” Before retreating for what I consider to be a well-earned break.