I am going away for the weekend. Way away – on a plane .
It won’t be easy for me to rush back should things collapse and there are tears or tantrums.
Three whole nights away – with friends who don’t have children. It will be blissfully strange. On previous visits I’ve been known to cause howls of disgusted outrage when I’ve mused…”I have nothing to do…does anyone need their arse wiped?”
Because it is so very shocking to go from managing another whole person in addition to yourself – to not. .
Everything we parents need to do for ourselves in a day, we also have to do for another whole person.
And if we can’t do it actually for them, we have to be there, remembering they need to do it, encouraging them and being over excited if they do it.
And now I have three and a half whole days and three whole nights where the only person I have to dress and feed and wash and move about is myself. I won’t have to get anyone else to the loo except myself and I won’t have to wonder if anyone else is too hot or too cold or requires a drink.
I won’t have to be on alert for where the pets are in relation to the clammy hands and strong tugs of a certain other person. I won’t have to be on hyper-alert to what’s happening just outside our vision (in case there’s a sudden wrong noise) or if there’s anything just coming in to view that we might rather avoid.
I won’t have to time things according to other things or stagger my attention.
I should sleep. But I won’t. Like the past few nights I’ve been blinking into the clock at 3am, 4 am, 5 am…my mind making lists about the lists I should be making to support the army of support and instruction I’m leaving behind.
The timetable which needs a backup timetable in case anything doesn’t happen in the expected way and therefore needs a different plan. The fact that everybody remotely related to this household needs to know everybody else’s routines and expectations and phone numbers.
The fact that so much of what we do is not easy to know other people need to know it.
Like 2 weetbix with milk and sugar then two pieces of toast with two crusts cut off but cut into three strips with butter and jam. Then rolled up into little jammy rolls as each individual one is popped into her mouth.
That way everyones fingers remain cleanish and we don’t end up with jam in our hair, our clothes, the iPad, the table and on all the furniture between the table and the bathroom en route to wash our hands afterwards. Oh and by the way the WeetBix needs to be fed with a teaspoon. Yes it does matter.
Because while Claudia has a Father and he’s a perfectly good and loving and funny and in many ways attentive Father – he’s not such a hands-on Father as he used to be.
With him working full time outside the home and me at home full time outside school hours – it has quite reasonably been me doing all the “Claudia”. That’s the way it works for us and that’s the way Claudia has grown to prefer it.
The relentless shouting “Mum! Mum! Mum”” when I’m in the house becomes “where’s Mummy? Where’s Mummy? Where’s Mummy?” when I’m not. It’s a bit loud and boring for all of us but I’m certainly more used to zoning it out. Good tempers will be tested, and I’m too far away to fix anything.
There are lists about things Claudia needs to stay away for the night, because she will be away for one night. There are lists of things she wants to take away for the night, because if there’s something she decides she wants it’s easier if she has it. There are things we pop in just on the off chance someone might need or want it. Dvds, books, soft toys, a train set. Just in Case.
In the back of my head I hear what you hear – I get that I sound like a deranged overly controlling martyr who can’t trust anyone to do anything the right way – her way – .
This plus the fact that I am writing this as I simultaneously prepare dinner (2 dinners – of course) – try to catch up with Steve over broken washing machine, tell Claudia to shush as she shouts at me that she wants to go on a school trip (accompanied by train noises from the iPad) , as I text friends old and new, fold washing , link up Family (in Oz) with friends (in Oz) so they can meet for a gin later tonight (and imaging them on warm beaches, together without me and a shouting girl- and feeling envious) . Here’s me in the middle typing messages to both exchanging numbers and addresses – oh- and making lists. I am a demented madwoman who is burning sausages and pouring a glass of pinot gris.
The friends I’m going to see have a calm and sane life – busy and important careers, a beautiful home and a taste for the fine things in life. You’d think I would fall into their sofas, enjoy the verve cliquot and make the most of the break. But it is hard. 17 years of being concerned about somebody else is not easy to switch off and these dearly beloved friends have been known to rudely out me as The Antidote To All Things Fun because of my inability to enjoy the weekend without worrying aloud how things are going at home.
I will try harder this time. I will write the lists and line up the ducks and get to the airport on time.
Then I will stop and be led and make no decisions and carry no responsibility. I will try.
I will try.
And way in the dusty recesses of my brain I know that everything here will be ok.
Because Claudia is with adults who are typically less distracted than me.
That if everything isn’t just as I would do it, it’s not only OK but probably good for her.
That Daddy’s different little ways and tricks and routines might just be more fun and in the end probably more efficient.
I should just relax and know once I’m gone, I’m gone and there’s nothing I can do.
It’ll be different. But it will be fine.