It is 4.41am and I have admitted defeat; no more sleep for me tonight. It is hard being here on the edge of the world waiting to hear from various people in various different time-zones, some of whom I may be being unrealistic about in the first place. One who I will hear from is my other half who, for family reasons is in Africa for a time (only a measly eight hours behind us, easy compared to the 18 I am struggling with in order to speak to an American expert for an article due on Tuesday….). And what a time for him to be away with two school starts, two deadlines hanging over me and, so far, two lost teeth – both of which I’m pleased to say were wobbly! I jokingly told someone that the second one had come out unexpectedly (it had actually) as the result of a punch from the big brother – and was quite mortified when they believed me, what does this say about us? Actually anyone who knows us would know it would have been the younger brother! The tooth fairy has managed to make it two nights in a row though, with glitter and everything – helps to balance out the punches!
Two very unfortunate things I have been left with are the registration of the boys for their winter sports choices and this week’s ‘Council clean-up’, a service offered here twice a year in which you chuck all your broken tat onto the street and it is taken away with the rubbish (what is left that is, after the utes have cruised round at 2am, their owners taking anything even remotely salvageable). We have a lot of broken tat including a set of outdoor shelves that feel like they are made of lead. Despite Mr Strong’s best efforts to make a wheelbarrow out of an old broken bin there is no way I can move them. I could ask a neighbour but the average age in the street is about 75 and I couldn’t be held responsible for any misadventure. The tat will have to wait. As for the sports, I can’t get a straight answer about who wants to do what and whether Mr Strong is planning on coaching one or both or any team this season. I think I’ll sign them all up for gymnastics.
I have friends whose husbands travel far and wide, and often too. I’m sure it’s not uncommon in any major city to hear mums refer to themselves as ‘practically a single parent’. I wouldn’t much like all that time apart but for a short while it seems to be having the effect of pulling us together. The boys are committed, so far, to their role of ‘looking after Mummy’, while it’s making me sharpen my focus as I sharpen the pencils. I’m sure the enforced abstinence helps (sorry Mum, I know I promised not to talk about wine – that’s just a tiny observation) as does the raft of newness on which we are travelling. I have one final day on our own with my gorgeous middle boy before he starts school on Monday and those apron strings begin to fray a tiny bit.
I’ve come to realise it is too easy to assume that subsequent children will just cruise along on the jet-stream of their siblings. Some will and some won’t. I only fully realised a couple of weeks ago that the unusual behaviour we were seeing was due in a large part to this coming watershed. I have no doubt that once reached, and undergone, we will settle into the next stage with seeming ease. I will have my first mid-week child-free days in seven and a half years which I am in equal parts dreading and looking forward to (well, alright, when the messages about coffees and lunches are flying I will admit to the balance being slightly in favour of the latter….). I am realising though that a little space can have a positive effect, not least the reduction in washing, cooking of different meals (fish and chips all round then?), not having to share the bag of mini flakes as the words refuse to flow…yes, definite benefits, if only for a while.