Rachel has just returned from a ten day holiday which meant I was in charge of the home, the girls and Honey the dog. Be afraid…..very afraid. If I’m being honest, I don’t have a great track record when being in charge. There was the classic time I decided to re-decorate and re-carpet half the house whilst installing new radiators which you can read about here. Even when I’m charge for a short time everything can quickly turn to chaos like the time the girls wanted to start a cooking marathon.
I’ve realised what my problem is (apart from being a tad disorganised). I just need to concentrate on running the everyday things and not worry about any grand schemes. So, taking this new found self awareness into account, what was the first thing I did as soon as Rachel flew off? I made plans to decorate the spare room and turn it into a games room for the girls and their friends complete with wall mounted tv and lots more. Fortunately after three hours I realised this would most likely end up with me close to a stress induced emotional breakdown and I let it go til another time.
There was one major change in our lives since the last time I was in charge……Honey. Now on paper you’d think this just means a walk every day and getting some food out. It’s like when you have a new born baby and the clueless fools that have never had children say things like, “You’ll have so much time to relax now as they just sleep all the time.” Then they turn up unannounced at 3pm to see you and question why you’re still in your dressing gown with no make and haven’t done anything all day. It’s a wonder there aren’t huge numbers of new mums charged with justifiable homicide having to deal with this.
Apart from her walks there were also the showers that ended up with mud all over the bathroom walls and two hours cleaning it off afterwards. Typical that that when Rach gets back we have a heatwave and the walks are totally mud free. Usually Rach is around to play with Honey in the house so now it was my turn to have Honey follow me everywhere whilst dropping tennis balls by my feet to throw. You know what it’s like when they look at you with sad eyes, you can’t ignore them.
I already had a lot on my plate with the Swimathon and a maiden stand up set to write and perform whist Rach was away. I knew early on that something would have to give way and that turned out to be food. Well, everyone ate obviously just not what I was planning before hand. I used to be a chef back in the day and have to put up with daily ridicule from Rach and the girls for the fact that I always make macaroni cheese when in charge of meal times.
I stated proudly that whilst Rach was away the girls would get to experience gastronomic delights that would enrich their lives along with their palates. Sadly this never happened, I was just too tired and couldn’t find the mental energy to conjure them up. Instead this was the list of dinners they had in the time Rach was away.
Fresh tagliatelle and chicken x 3 nights
Sainsbury’s Pizza x 2 nights
Breaded chicken, viennas and baked beans
Breaded fish with rice
Chicken, chips and fried eggs
Filled ricotta and spinach pasta with pesto
Reading it back, I don’t feel terrible. After all, you’ll note there wasn’t one plate of macaroni served. You may also note something conspicuous by it’s absence. Yes, that’s right, no vegetables, none at all. Not a sniff of broccoli, a smidgen of cauliflower or a whiff of carrots. The thing is, I don’t eat or have ever eaten vegetables. Well, just mushrooms and spinach and that’s very occasionally. When Rach is here the veg are overflowing and take up half the table.
When the girls were younger and Rach went away she was only worried about two things: what their hair looked like and how I dressed them. Obviously I sent her pictures with both of them looking like scarecrows with completely random outfits that never went well together. Nowadays it’s only veg she cares about so she said it was absolutely fine through severely clenched teeth when the girls regaled stories of veg free dinners when she got back home.
You’d think now they’re older it would be easier as they can help out and would be tidy with everything. Sadly, in the words of Chandler Bing, “Could you be more wrong?” It’s as if they don’t know the concept of throwing things away or tidying when they’re finished with something. Empty food wrappers everywhere but the bin, crisp packets being stolen by Honey after being discarded in random places as far away from the bin as possible.
Katie was complaining that she didn’t have any clean clothes to wear even though I was proudly on top of the washing. It turns out she was leaving everything dirty in her room and when I asked why she replied, “I didn’t have time to put them in the washing basket!” This perfectly sums up my children. “Jade, please can you hang the washing on the clothes drier.” “Sorry daddy, I don’t know how to do it.” “Just use your common sense darling, it’s not difficult.” When I checked on her ten minutes later she’d hung all the socks length ways at the top and was taking selfies to post on Instagram as there was no room for anything else. Common sense, that mystical thing that people whisper in the shadows. Does it really exist? Seemingly not in our house.
I’ve always tried to empower the girls to be self sufficient and independent. I strongly believe these are two of the greatest gifts I can help bestow on them. Unfortunately as Rach feels the polar opposite the girls are used to having everything done for them. This includes making their breakfast so mornings were a bit stressful last week.
“Daddy, please can you make me a bagel and butter it for me.”
“No darling, I’m busy doing 27 other things, can you do it yourself.”
“You’re so mean, mummy always does it for me. Now I won’t have time to eat so I’ll go to school hungry and it will be all your fault.” Cue slammed door then text apology 20 mins later.
My packed lunches weren’t very popular either. Apparently I don’t know how to make egg wraps properly and my ketchup distribution on fish finger wraps is far less skilful than when mummy makes them.
Over the course of the first nine days I went to bed between midnight and 1am and woke up around 6am each morning. I never really stopped all day every day and didn’t even have time to procrastinate like I do on a normal week. By the tenth and final day I was finished. I managed to mow the lawn then collapsed back into bed for some sleep. I picked Rach up from the airport, drove back home and crawled into bed, an absolute mess and an empty shell of a man.
It was lovely to have her back and I did get to have some quality time with the girls which is what it’s always about. They’re still here, healthy and hopefully not too traumatised after 10 veg free days. What this reminded me most of all was that I have the absolute and upmost respect for parents bringing up children on their own. I was finished after 10 days, much longer and I would have to have resorted to an intravenous drip of Red Bull to carry on.
My friend Tommy is bringing up five children and a puppet on his own so this is for you and all the other mums and dads doing everything on your own. I salute you and your energy, patience and total skills. You are all my personal heroes.
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