Steady on there, SWB

Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone. Today we nipped down to the Northern Lights on the Ormeau for a bit of lunch. There, I met a friend who’s just had a baby girl. ‘Hold her a sec while I sort this bottle,’ said she, handing me the 8 week old bundle, at which my uterus did not so much twinge, as somersault.

BOING BOING BOING,  it went. “Are you sure you haven’t shut up shop? Still time you know, not 40 til June!”

Have a word with yourself, SWB, I told myself sternly. ‘Steady on there,’ said Himself, a look of abject terror in his eyes.

There are SO many reasons not to venture on that path anew. For starters, I feel ancient. I like my sleep A LOT, and am especially fond of a nap. Two, babies are a wild lot of bother aren’t they? All that trying to feed them and burp them and worrying something will befall them as they sleep so just staring, wild eyed and crazed at their dozing forms. And three, they get bigger, and you THEN you have to entertain them.

My pair love a good gallivant round the countryside. ‘I do like a hotel,’ the Older One told me earnestly the other day. Given her lineage, there’s no surprise there. I’m quite partial to the crisp clean sheets and breakfast buffet myself. They are also keen on having a busy schedule (provided of course, that it’s something they like to do). Their favourite time for amusement is straight after school. How they HATE to be told that they’re coming home; END OF, for a bit of homework, TV and a snack. It doesn’t go down well, that sort of talk.

‘Did you have a good day?’ I asked them last week as we trudged up the hill; me, Sherpa-like under the weight of their accoutrements. ‘It was good until we saw you,’ said my first born. Little sh*t. Now, had I told her she was heading to her friend Sophie or Sam’s house, for an afternoon of cookies, merriment and outdoor play, it would have been all hugs and kisses. Sadly for her, (and me,) this wasn’t on the cards.

And the manipulation of them too. ‘Well, if we’re not going out, can we not have ‘so and so’ round?’ ‘No, you bloody can’t!’ I seethe.

You need your wits about you, being a stay-at-home mum. I would advise  ALWAYS to arrange playdates with the greatest of care. I speak from experience, after getting into all sorts of fixes. Here are two situations you must AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Situation One. Be wary of people using you as a handy childcare solution. You need to get wise to those bastards. Listen to my tale of woe.

As a student, I had a classmate who used to stalk me; she was never off the doorstep which I found most irksome. Anyway, I felt a bit bad and though I was trying to distance myself, (before she included herself in every fecking soirée going) I felt I should include her in our weekly pub quiz outing to The Egg. ‘NO,’ said my housemate, emphatically. ‘Do NOT invite her along.  I’m telling you, if you do this once, she will NEVER make a plan for a Tuesday night again.’

Did I heed the advice? No. Did we have a fifth member to our abysmal team for the next 5 months?  Yes. And no, we still won nothing.

Back to my point. A while ago, I was civil, in a neighbourly sort of a way, to a local chap who minded his grandchildren. Fecking exhausted he looked too. ‘Ah,’ he said one day as he saw me hoicking my little ones out of the motor. ‘I know a wee pair who’d love a get together with them.’

So eejit that I was, I said ‘Yes! Of course!’ I made fruit kebabs and sliced up banana bread, slathered in butter. The grandad stayed for a cup of tea, and I ignored my mound of ironing and washing & all the usual household shite which accumulates when you look way for 3 minutes. It was pleasant enough, until as he left, a good hour and half later he said: ‘Same time next week then?’ I gulped. At exactly half two the next week they returned, and the week after that. When I tried to weasel out of it I’d get a text. ‘What’s the story next Thursday then? Are we back on?’

Suddenly I started organising every appointment necessary for a Thursday, so I had a valid excuse and didn’t have to tell fibs. They were lovely children, but the offer was never reciprocated, and I resented the imposition. I ended up racing into the house like a Ninja every time I saw them coming. Solution? Yes, be friendly, but boundaries are ok too.

Situation 2: The guest who comes, with children, and doesn’t f**k off, despite your loudly saying you have work to do/ are going out/ have a life and don’t want to be talking about making pesto and freezing it in handy portions. I have fallen into this trap time and time again, EVEN IF I’VE SAID IT FROM THE OUTSET. ‘Yes, surely, bring wee Hermione round. I’m going out though at 6, so I’ll have to get ready.’ I guarantee, that frigging Hermione is STILL upstairs, decked out in a Cinderella dress and my lipstick at 6-15 while Mum witters on about custard. Homework remains undone, as are dishes, loads of laundry, and inevitably my nerves.

You know those sanctimonious wall hangings you see at garden centres where they’re always playing gospel music?  I suggest they make a sign which reads thus:

Be an ideal guest.

Never stay more than an hour.

If your child starts being a shite, by guerning, eating all round it, or smashing stuff, then take your leave.

Remove your child before your host starts to look mutinous.

Help, or at least offer. Lift a few toys off the floor.

Bring wine, and offer no objection if your host gets stuck into it at 4-30. Who cares if it’s 4.30.

GOD BLESS YOU.

And if you struggle to navigate the quagmire, then go back to work. Yes, I’m actually serious. I have discovered that now that I work a few hours, I simply can’t countenance organising  playdates or freezing my arse off at the park. As I mentioned earlier, my children are not best pleased with the change of circumstances.  However, I have a stash of sweets and access to Netflix. Turns out, if you let them knock themselves out on ‘Boss Baby’ or ‘Spirit’ for a while, then send them into the garden for a quick play, then there’s no harm done.

Damn it. Even after all that my womb’s still having a wee cry to itself. Mother Nature has a lot to answer for.

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