Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bah humbug?

I have to admit that I have been struggling to feel the spirit of Christmas this time around, instead feeling mainly a sense of panic at a seemingly insurmountable list of 'things that must be done'.

Occasionally though my gloom melts a little. Yesterday I went to pick up five year old from school after watching her school nativity in the morning. She was beaming from ear to ear when I told her how much her little sister and I had enjoyed watching her sing. I had managed to fight back the tears as I walked into the school hall for the event, but only just.

Anyway, whilst waiting in the queue outside her classroom at end of school time I noticed a Christmas 'wish tree' her class had made. Each child had written something on a piece of paper to hang on a branch. Amongst the wishes for parties, pancakes and other such things, I spotted my little girl's name. Her piece of paper had a picture of a little heart, neatly coloured in, with the words: "A heart for mummy."

Tears? Oh yes. I apologise in advance if this sounds corny, but I am truly grateful that this Christmas the words of wise five year old are helping to teach me a new meaning and depth to the word 'love'.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The intangible difference between Pooh and poo.

We had a great afternoon post-school today. I felt I had been rather grouchy on the morning school run and the sun was shining so I decided a walk up to the library to exchange books would be good for all three of us. We even stopped at a cafe on the way for banana milkshake and chocolate flapjack, a Tuesday treat to keep us going up the hill.

Of course seconds after leaving the cafe both kids were whinging and I was regretting having played the trump treat cards so early - 'behave because I have just given you chocolate flapjack' just does not work in the same way as 'if you behave you can have...' (Obviously I would never stoop to such ridiculous methods of bribery. Ahem)

The walk home was lovely though, we now always include 'the fruit man' on our walks home from Town Street as the girls pick what fruit they want (their choices are not always very climate friendly I am sorry to say - although five year old went for apples today) and the owner of the greengrocer's shop always gives each girl a handful of raisins and a beaming smile. I did end up pushing both of them sitting on each others knees in our rickety pushchair for the last part of the journey, but it is downhill by then so my paltry muscles can cope just about.

At bedtime the two year old chose a Winnie the Pooh book that I have previously only read to my elder child. She has heard of Pooh bear before but clearly the idea is still quite amusing to her. I begin reading...

Two year old: "Where's the poo mummy?"
Me: "There, that's Winnie the Pooh, the bear."
Two year old: "But where's the poo though?"
Me: "It's the name of a bear, Winnie the Pooh, not an actual poo."
Five year old helps out: "You've got a Winnie in your nursery haven't you?"
Two year old sniggers: "Willy." Giggles on both sides.
Five year old, through giggles: "Winnie, not willy."
Two year old: "Maxi's got a willy."
By this point I am reluctantly giving into the giggles.
Me: "Shall I carry on reading or shall we put the light out girls?"
Both girls: "Read mummy!"
Two year old: "But where's the poo?"

Monday, 1 December 2008

The guilt

Nobody ever really tells you about the guilt associated with becoming a parent. And even if they do mention it your pre-parent self no doubt shrugged it off. Oh, that'll never happen to me.
It has happened to every parent that I know though, to differing degrees of course.
Going back to work? Guilt.
Children having trouble settling into nursery? Guilt.
Putting a dvd on at the weekend while you get a few things done? Guilt.
Feeding your children rubbish because you haven't had time to cook and you know they won't eat your food anyway? Guilt.
Well when you have made a conscious decision to divide their family into two that guilt is more than doubled.

After school today I had to go pick up the car from the garage, so I left youngest at home and asked eldest if she wanted to come with me or go back home and play with Nana. "I want to come with you Mummy," was the reply. I explained that it might take a while to pick up the car but she was keen so we set off on the bus to the garage. Once there I discovered the car was not ready (surprise) and we could have up to an hour to wait. Again I asked five year old if she wanted me to take her home, but she wanted to stay. Obviously the word 'hour' has no real meaning to her, but still it made me feel that she was really so desperate for some time alone with me that she was prepared to sit in a boring car showroom just to get that. Of course maybe to a five year old a car showroom has more appeal than it does to a 30-something mother-of-two who has neither the means nor desire to buy a new car, I mean they had a box of crayons after all. But it did give me a pang of that by now familiar guilt. Living on my own with two young children, it is rare that my eldest gets time with me alone, and I was impressed with her response to this particular chance. We drew and coloured together, and chatted about our day. In hindsight it was more than just an hour in a car showroom.

Now I just had a text message saying the girls can go to the other half of their family for two nights this coming weekend, rather than the usual one night. This means I can do more of the chores that build up during the week, and also go out and see friends two whole nights in a row. What do I feel? Guilt, of course.