Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Parallel Lives: How the Other Half Live Child Free

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Parallel Lives: How the Other Half Live Child Free

Now I am not one who enjoys comparing themselves to others; I tend to find that I am never clever enough, funny enough, pretty enough, slim enough, fit enough or kind enough. However, this weekend I have retreated to the in laws for the Easter break where we are in the company of my husband's twin and her husband and I find myself searching my pockets for my yard stick once again and plotting our differences against one another. Now these differences are not in relation to our personal qualities (because obviously we are both equally as kind, beautiful and clever) but our experiences of similar events over the weekend.
Parallel Lives
1. The journey

My sister in law messaged the family WhatsApp group to inform the family of their arrival time, including elucidatory details of their planned journey. These tantalising nuggets included "the quiet coach", "M&S picnic" and "watching MasterChef en route". 

Meanwhile, I was wrangling with a 2 year old who refused to sleep despite the late hour and degree of exhaustion (loosely translated from his anguished screams of "I NO LIKE!!"). Attempts to ease him into the realm of unconsciousness whilst my husband attempted to concentrate on the road in the driving rain included, but were not limited to: 

  • soothing tones and reassuring phrases issued in his general direction with reassuring pats of his legs. Response: "SHHHH! I NO LIKE!"

  • putting on an over- exaggerated display of pretending to fall asleep myself. Response:  "MUMMYMUMMYMUMMYMUMMY MUM-MY!!"

  • listening to the same banal nursery rhyme on repeat for an hour, slowly but surely feeling the will to live ebb from my body whilst also wondering if the vocalist every thought to question their life choices. Response: "AGAIN! AGAIN!"
Fighting a losing battle
2. The wake up

A fact universally acknowledged by the extended family is that this pair love a lie in; forever reluctant to stir from their recumbent position and face the world beyond their snug and warm duvet. Well, this weekend was no different. It was 9 o'clock before they emerged from the haven of their bedroom, loosely disheveled and in a dreamy haze; wandering down the stairs to greet the day and the youthful inhabitants of the house with the enthusiasm and vigour that only 8 hours of uninterrupted slumber can bestow.

We acknowledged their presence with subtle nods over the brim of our tepid cups of coffee; issuing a jaded greeting in their general direction like war veterans who were unable and unwilling to convey the terrors they had already lived through. We were broken. 
Bouncing into the day
The children had not transitioned from car to bedroom as seamlessly as we would have hoped and had needed frequent parental intervention for such emergencies as "the night is too dark", "my blanket is tangled" and "mummy, mummy, milk, mummy". They had, however, apparently been well rested enough to accompany the dawn chorus (the joys of countryside living) with their own dulcet tones and start the day with relentless enthusiasm for all forms of physical play; particularly those which involved sitting astride their mother and bouncing simultaneously with gay abandon.


Much like this...
3. The relationship

This twosome have been married for just over two years, a date I have etched on my calendar as my rascal child had penned in his arrival for two days later meaning my husband never got to see his twin be walked down the aisle, raise a toast to her future happiness or dance with her on her wedding day. Instead he was lucky enough to spend the day on labour ward being glowered at repeatedly (especially when being offered tea and biscuits mid contraction), have his beloved mutter audible profanities about him for putting her in such a position and being able to wipe the sweat from his wife's upper lip (I suffer from a very sweaty face) as she tried to expel an unruly grapefruit through the eye of the needle.
Parallel Lives
Despite being two years into matrimony and about 11 years into their relationship this other couple retain a display of physical affection that would be more suited to a fledgling romance; one that has not yet weathered the gastric illness, utility bills and domestic chores which come to all long term relationships. Hands are proferred for holding, armpits are snuggled into when seated on a couch and hugs are spontaneously bestowed upon each other freely and without ulterior motive. They appear very much in love.
Snuggle-tastic
We, on the other hand are comrades in arms, passing the undetonated (and sometimes detonated) bombs between us with an unspoken understanding. All physical affection is showered upon our offspring; hands are too busy carrying or wiping to be held, nooks are prefilled with small children who need a reassuring cuddle and spontaneous hugs are saved for times of childhood injury or uncertainty. On the rare occasions that we may try to bestow a loving touch or unsolicited kiss upon our other, we are met with outcry from our progeny. They appear to find it both unsettling and unfair; did we not realise that all affection must be lavished in their direction? 



Now, you may have read this and felt a twinge of pity for me or a hankering for those magical days where you weren't responsible for keeping another human entertained/fed/law- abiding/alive but I urge you to take solace in this fact: the other couple are expecting a baby. 
3 Little Buttons

You've Got a Friend In Me: An Open Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends, I am sorry.  I realise that I don't call, email or even text you as much as I should. I know that there are times...