After nearly two decades of legal training, my life – even my mummy life – is broken down into 6 minute billable units. I can’t help but see the passing of time this way. I’ve never had a biological clock; it’s always been a billable one. Today was a day like any other day. I call it Every Day. The billing narrative for Every Day goes like this:
0645: Wake up, pry Newborn from crook of shoulder, extract Tercero from opposite leg, roll over Prima and/or Secundo to dismount new king sized bed that sleeps entire Duck family.
0651: Microwave porridge (for 6 minutes), unload dishwasher, sterilise Newborn’s bottles from multiple night wakings and our desperate attempts to pacify him by overfeeding because the effectiveness of shush-patting is a myth and who has the stamina to control cry a baby at 3am?.
0721: Wipe the table, floor and baby chair after breakfast. So much of my life is spent on the floor that I have learned to maximise my time and do some of my best thinking down there. Recent brilliant thoughts include:
- Email Simon Cowell about an idea for a chart topping CD. I could record myself bleating incessant entreaties to my children to eat/change into their school uniform/brush teeth/do homework/attempt music practice/stop whingeing/stop fighting. The CD could be marketed as a new form of white noise. Instead of womb sounds and whale songs, my voice could be used to lull babies into hibernation (or stasis); as it clearly does my children;
- Call my health fund and check if my cover includes RWI (Repetitive Wiping Injury); and
- I really need to wee.
0733: Bend down and pick up toys/clothes/food/tissues/nappies and return these items to their “proper” place. My need to return things to their proper place should be the subject of its own blog post, or at the very least, aggressive therapy. Make a mental note to call my health fund and check if my cover includes premature hip replacements caused by RBI (Repetitive Bending Injury).
0821: Forget to shower, stare longingly at the toilet, eat contraceptive pill and children’s leftovers for breakfast, spray children with strawberry flavoured hair detangler and sunscreen as they run out the door.
0827: Try to remember how I did this when I was working. Remember that I felt like I did everything badly. Realise I still feel like I am doing everything badly.
0921: Return from school after drop off. Go to the bathroom. Sit. Notice that the toilet roll is empty. Go completely crazy.
It’s the empty toilet roll that breaks me. The empty toilet rolls talks to me. It says that the last person who used the toilet (man, woman or child), did not care enough about the next person (ie. me) to change it. The empty toilet roll also says to me that the last person knew that I, mummy, would change it for the family; that their time (and bottom) is too important to take a moment to change it but that my time (and bottom) isn’t. This malicious little tirade by my overly articulate toilet roll sends me over the edge into the porcelain abyss.
Filled with Empty Toilet Roll Rage (this is a well documented clinical condition) I tear it from its holder and crush it with my bare hands. Whilst replacing it with a new toilet roll, I rail insanely and incoherently against the relentless domestic servitude of motherhood. If just one person in the family had done this one small task for me instead of leaving it for me, it would have been one less thing for me to do, one less chore, one extra moment in my day. One little thing would have made an enormous difference. One less thing might have made me a little less crazy. It’s the little things that count.
1503: Pick up Secundo from school. Watch him push other kindergarteners out of the way to press his nose against the window, his enormous eyes light up when he sees me and draw me in. The door opens, he jumps down the steps, suffers my kisses with a shy smile and takes my hand. He still takes my hand.
1509: Find Prima in the playground and watch her crazy curls bob along a sea of children; a tiny, perfect body in an oversized uniform. See her start laughing uncontrollably when she finally sees Secundo and me. Brace to catch her as she throws herself into my arms. Breathe in strawberries as she locks her arms around me and won’t let go. She won’t let go.
1515: Walk home and talk about the little lizard that lives at our house. According to the children the lizard travels to school where they also see it regularly. The very same, adventurous lizard.
1521: Arrive home, say hello to the lizard, find Tercero and Newborn waiting for us with husband. Babies clamber onto my lap each pushing their little noses and soft lips into my neck. Four arms and four legs grip me hard. Feel two little hearts beating fast against my chest. Tercero’s warm, wet lips whisper “I lub you mummy” in my ear.
1527: All four ducklings challenge husband to a game of Keep Daddy Down. Husband pretends to be overcome by the immense strength of his offspring who have learned to wrestle as a pack. He collapses on the ground laughing that rich laugh I love. Watch family play. Exhale. Inhale. Close eyes. Exhale.
1533: It’s the little things that count.