I didn’t take huge amounts of maternity leave with either of The Boys. Partly that was a financial decision because the little buggers required food and a place to live and clothes to shit all over. It was also because working something I needed to do for my own sanity. There are people who are wonderful at spending all their time with their children. Patient people. Kind people. Empathetic people. People whose knees aren’t so fucked that they can actually sit on the floor to play for significant periods of time.
The Little One was ill recently and Mr H had already gone to work before we knew about it. This meant me working from home with a sick child. Never ideal but doable. I got him settled on the sofa with the holy trinity of poorly child requirements; unlimited Disney films, a duvet and a sick bowl. Sorted.
Earlier today it occurred to me to check when I started writing Sons Over the Yardarm, and bugger me, it’s exactly a year ago today! I confess I timed it a bit badly in many respects. The Boys are actually becoming marginally less annoying than they used to be (or at least are annoying in less amusing ways) but there we have it. Regardless, an anniversary should be marked. Usually, of course, I’d use any manner of anniversary as an opportunity to get pissed, but Dry January is in full swing and there is only so celebratory you can feel when sober, even if you go nuts and drink Cherryade out of a posh glass.
Ah, January. Christmas is a twinkly memory and everything is a bit rubbish. Nothing new there, we’ll get through it like we always do. Head down. Dry January. Netflix on. Tea in hand. No bother. This too shall pass. The more annoying thing is the endless bloody magazine articles on New Year’s Resolutions, and “self-improvement” and, God help us, fucking “wellness”. And it’s not ideas on how to lose half a stone anymore. I can get behind that. It’s just mad shit. The Saturday Times Magazine this weekend has an article that started off with me rolling my eyes and ended with me readings sections aloud to the cat in utter incredulity.
I don’t really raise my children. I’m very much a part-timer when it comes to parenting. I should probably feel terribly guilty about this. And occasionally I do. Sort of. Mostly, I’m fine with it. I’m a big believer in playing to your strengths and I learned during the long, long (oh so fucking long) days of maternity leave that being with The Boys all day, every day, is not one of my strengths. Certainly not in the way that drinking gin, swearing and masterminding outstanding combinations of nibbles are my strengths, anyway.
There is much that is splendid about The Boys. They are funny. They are reasonably polite. They are, when they put their minds to it, quite well-behaved. All in all, they are pretty good company much of the time.
One of the most…challenging…things about having children is the fact that you are not supposed to swear in front of them. I realise that for many people this isn’t a challenge at all. Lots of people just don’t swear much. They are perfectly able to express their views, frustration, irritation and amusement without using offensive language. And well done to them. Many of my very best friends aren’t very sweary.
After the Big One was born, I was on maternity leave for six months. It was mostly quite jolly because I spent an extraordinary amount of time drinking tea with my NCT chums. Or getting shitfaced with them. We were that sort of NCT crowd (much to the chagrin of our somewhat earnest teacher who was of the bury-your-placenta-in-the-garden variety). We had limited interest in learning how to bath a baby, most of us just signed up to meet other people who’d bought buggies based on how many bottles of Malbec would fit in the bottom. Or gin. We didn't judge.