Saturday, 4 November 2006

The Joy of Zrbtts

It's 6 p.m. and I'm still in pyjamas that reek of bilious baby vomit, despairingly surveying the shambles around me. I've never been the best housekeeper, and if I had lived in Jacobean England I would probably have been a regular on the ducking-stool for my slatternly ways. But things are decidedly worse now that Master Lonie is of an age and inclination to demand constant cuddling on pain of ear-bleed-inducing crying. The kitchen cupboards and drawers are nearly empty of clean crockery and cutlery, moulted dog hairs are piled up on the floor like miniature snow drifts, and there is a mountainous heap of clothing I hope to get around to folding before the fruits of my womb outgrow it.

Incidentally, I have formulated what I call the Law of Judgemental Relations, which states that the number and type of unexpected visitors one receives is inversely proportional to the amount of housework completed. On rare days the house is clean and tidy, I could die and be eaten by my dogs before anyone discovered my mangled corpse. Good friends drop by when there's a slight mess, my family pops in when things could do with a clean, and the days when I think that it might be easier just to bulldoze the house and start again, are when my parents-in-law choose to descend like crows to a carnage.

Master Lonie is squalling because he wants milk NOW, dammit, and to hell with changing his leaking, pooh-filled nappy. He will punish me later with a manoeuvre known as the 'gnash-and-pull' (he chooses not to subscribe to the maxim, "Don't bite the nipple that feeds you"), followed by the 'pinch-and-gouge'.

Miss Lonie has launched into inexplicable histrionics complete with irrational whining and crocodile tears, as two-year-olds are wont to do. The shrieking is sharp enough to split my brain and for a moment I'm tempted to join in before I concede we can't all flop around like landed fish, caterwauling to the police our disgruntled neighbours have probably called.

But suddenly, my heart lightens as thoughts of overwhelming inadequacy vanish like a fleeting cloud. I bask in the sunshine of my precious children who remind me for the hundredth time today that housework can go hang, and that "This too will pass". Miss Lonie forgets her tantrum as suddenly as it starts, and smiles up at me as she says, "I luff woo Mummy!" before trotting off an a pretend shopping trip to buy 'snowman peas' and 'muh-wooms'. Master Lonie gives me a gummy beatific smile. He leans in, presses parted lips on my cheek and blows with his sweet baby breath.


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