Keith is hobbling about on crutches tonight. It's an improvement from this morning when he was shuffling along on his bum like a Great Dane with itchy worms. He buggered his foot playing soccer. I am now on full parental/house duty. Ivy is going through a changeling pre-school adjustment phase: now adorable, now certifiable... My only relief? A good, hard whinge.
February Column - CoastKids Magzine
Recently I suffered an attack of bursitis. I could walk okay, but it was less of a supermodel-slink and more of a wino-waddle. I took my sore and sorry hip off to the osteo, he of the soothing tones and the healing hands. ‘Ice it at night,’ he told me. ‘And don’t walk too much.’ Easy done, I thought, mentally absolving myself from the arduous task of planning the three long walks a week I never take.
Oh, how wrong I was. I had never really thought about the kilometers walked in a day around my house, just to keep the family alive, semi-hygienic and not suffocated under the weight of unfolded washing and half-chewed sandwiches.
A typical morning starts with breakfast. One-year-old Teddy throws everything on the floor and then pours milk on it. Three-year-old Ivy requires four types of food and at least two surreal discussions on life, testing the contents of the fridge and my brain capacity at 7.30am. I get them cleaned, dressed, de-nappied, re-nappied, and ready for a day of rambunctious destruction.
I take a deep breath, and begin on a looping schedule of mess management. Constant meals must roll out of my short-order kitchen; all requiring shopping, planning and washing-up. A load of laundry every day, at least. Nappy-changing, cloth-nappy chores and toddler toilet-management. Vacuuming. Sweeping. Settle in, friends! I’m just getting started here.
Bed-making. Filling and emptying backpacks. Toilet-scrubbing. Toy-tidying. Bread-baking. Meal-freezing. Snack-packing. Mystery-stain soaking. Doctor-booking. Swim-classing. Nail-clipping. Random and disgusting occasional jobs, like excavating ossified fruit from car seats and bleaching high-chair straps. And just running in to pick up some milk. (Five times a week, at least.)
Let’s call that Whinge A: a predictable, consistent list. But there’s also Whinge B: the random work of managing the debris created by two small children. Picture, for a moment, the eight-armed Indian goddess Kali; wandering my halls and throwing objects into all the far corners. Sometimes I feel I’ve lived a whole day before 8am.
Between tasks, I’m sure Ivy and Teddy regard me as in-flight entertainment and will, any day, just point the remote at me and press ‘Play.’ I might be made, like a performing monkey, to dance like the Wiggles, create a cubby out of four sheets of toilet paper and a lettuce, or make toy animals go to sleep and wake up again forty-five times in a row, while wearing a hat made of a Weet-Bix box. Often, I must pause for sibling relationship counseling or tantrum management. At three and one, Ivy and Ted need almost constant supervision. There’s a fine art to intervening at the moment the game ‘Lets poke each other with breadsticks,’ turns from giggling hilarity into hysterical recrimination. It’s a little like trying to manage a dinner date between a lunatic and a drunk.
Sometimes I’m sure that they actual conspire. ‘OK, we’ve got five minutes while she puts the washing on. You take the kitchen, I’ll take the bedroom. Here’s your texta – it’s permanent so don’t hold back. One-two-three- go!’
Home life with two preschoolers requires so much multi-tasking that I end up running all over the place like a madwoman’s shit. There’s no solution. So here’s what my osteo should have said: ‘Your hip’s buggered. Your best bet is to find a way to publish a long-winded lengthy diatribe about the housework. It won’t help you recover, and it will be five minutes of your readers lives that they’ll never get back, but it just might take your mind off the pain.’