Sunday, 3 June 2012

Dusty wedges and rusty edges

Our lovely little chaps were three months old last week.  We’ve watched them grow from tiny mites into robust, smiley babies.  Archie’s taken a three pound lead over Flo and as he gets bigger, she seems even smaller somehow, even though she’s growing well too.   They’re finding their voices - Archie has an owl-like “hoooo” while Flo coos and babbles, smiling constantly.  And then there’s the hands.  We’re loving watching them randomly pointing, staring at their own fingers and brandishing a Superman fist.  A truly delightful sight is watching Archie stroke his own fuzzy peach-skin head.

The last few weeks have been the most exhausting by far.  While the babies are pretty much sleeping through the night, the trade-off is very wakeful daytimes.  Even now we’re using bottles, feeding still takes up a huge part of the day and I’m frustrated at the lack of tangible evidence of anything vaguely productive to show for my day.  I never seem to have a long enough run at anything before the next epic double feed/burp/change round starts.  I leave snatched meals uneaten, the ironing pile half-creased, emails half-written, exercise abandoned.  A diehard completer-finisher, I struggle with what to me seems chaos.  Just asks: “Did you have a good day?” when he gets in from work and I woefully tell him I’ve not achieved a single thing, nothing to report, just the nursery run, baby duties and domestic drudgery.  He hugs me and tells me I’m a great mum and that Evie, Flo and Archie are growing and flourishing under my care – that that is my biggest achievement.  He says all the right things but the fact is that while I’m very good at working, I’m a pretty hopeless housewife.  Sadly I’ll never get the same buzz from baking a sponge as I will from cracking a strategy or pitching a great idea.  I give myself a good talking to about making the most of this special time with Flo and Archie as my return to working life will come round soon enough.  At that, I switch my brain down several gears and slow the well-oiled cogs, stick a muslin on my shoulder and put on my pinny (spotless and for show obviously).

Well-meaning friends and glossy magazines tell me I need ‘me time’ to separate mummy-me from me-me.  But I don’t know how to fit that in.  I used to think of ‘me time’ as being a spa day or shopping splurge, solo cinema night or long soak in the bath with my book.  Now it’s more likely to be going to the loo without a four year old in tow or an evening trip to the supermarket to pick up forgotten groceries.  This weekend though, I finally get me some of that elusive time.  I winch myself into skinny (ish) jeans, dust off my towering wedge sandals and attend a drinks party at my local art gallery.  It’s wonderful.  Chilled white wine soothes my ‘new mum alone and out of the house in going-out clothes’ angst, the company is charming and bohemian, and the art baffles and intrigues me in a most pleasant way.  While I’m there, something happens deep inside my head but I don’t recognize the feeling.  Then today I go to the Hay Festival to listen to my favourite columnist, proud and potty-mouthed feminist and mum Caitlin Moran, discuss her caustic take on the modern woman’s lot.  Her witty rantings are bitter-sweet and entertaining and create much chatter amongst the crowd afterwards.  Then that thing with my head happens again.  I drive home and as I put my keys in the front door and hear the familiar sounds of my family, I realize what’s happened this weekend.  I’ve done something I’ve not done for a good few months.  I’ve done some THINKING.  I’d like to try doing it again, just as soon as I finish this ironing.

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