Today was a day that by rights I should have been looking forward to. A precious morning to work whilst Dawn, fresh off a seemingly relentless period of shifts, would be at home watching over the parenting tasks. When I awoke however it wasn’t joy that filled my being. There was a strange sense of dread that I couldn’t quite place in my emotional repertoire. I realised suddenly that the freedom I thought would taste so sweet was in fact the same as that brought about by an enemy occupation. For the first time in 2 weeks my space would be invaded and I didn’t like it.
Dawn, by contrast, seemed quite chipper about the whole thing. This really irritated me as did the fact that she was doing things a bit differently to me. I was worried that her way might be better than mine so I rolled my eyes, chuckled in a patronising way and started setting her straight on a few things. It was therefore a little disappointing when Aidan piped up that in fact they didn’t prefer marmite on their toast and mums breakfast was much nicer. I laughed hysterically and said, “don’t they say the funniest things” but Aidan didn’t get the hint and in the end I had to send him off to do his teeth again.
Dawn went upstairs to get Freddy up so I followed her and hung around outside his room waiting to see if he would ask for me. When this didnt happen I burst into the room and started doing an energetic song and dance routine. Dawn and Freddy looked at me like I was sitting between moderate and severe on the deranged scale but I was fully committed now and kept going until Freddy offered a small but precious smile at my antics after which I tried to casually say, “oh its just a thing we do” before heading off to find a paper bag to help me breathe.
When I had calmed down it was time for me to go to work so I went downstairs and gave Dawn a long and loud verbal list of all of the things Freddy needed throughout the day. I wasn’t being helpful, a written list would have been much more use. I just wanted everyone in the house know that I was still in charge in spite of the “temporary” arrangement. When I’d repeated my list a few times I started telling everyone that I was going to work but nobody seemed to be listening so I kept on saying it until eventually the older children said goodbye a little more enthusiastically than I’d have hoped. Freddy was busy tormenting the dog so I grabbed him in a tight hug and said, “I love you soooooo much, Daddies going to miss you”. Freddy was trying to get off me so I popped him down again and left through the front door. I stood outside to see if he would start crying and when he didnt I went back in and pretended I’d forgotten my phone. Then I picked Freddy up and smothered him again but to no avail. Dawn was laughing at me and telling me to go to work so I hung around until she went to the kitchen, slipped Freddy a Sharpie pen and pointed him towards the washing basket. Then I went out again and cried all the way to work.
When I arrived at work 5 minutes later I sent Dawn a text asking if everything was ok. I did this a few more times in the morning and by about 11am Dawn had stopped answering my texts so I tweeted, DM’d, whatsapp and snap chatted her to see what was wrong. Then I started to get a bit frantic and called the house and she didn’t pick up. I was by now considering calling the local hospitals but I had one more try and when there was no reply started bellowing into the answer machine a little bit. This did the trick and when I asked why she hadn’t answered earlier she said that it was only ever PPI or someone who called during the day. Anyway, everything was fine so I asked to speak to Freddy and told him how much I loved him and had a little cry. He didn’t seem too worried and was just pressing all the buttons on the phone before he eventually cut me off.
I thought it was probably best not to call back and after what seemed like an eternity I finished my morning and sprinted home full of hope at the failure and chaos that would undoubtedly await me. I was more than a little bit disappointed to arrive and see that Freddy was having a nap, the house looked clean and a nice smelling dinner was in the slow cooker. I asked how the morning had been and Dawn said she had some bad news. My mood changed. This was it, the big revelation that everything fell apart when I was gone and I was the only thing that could hold our chaotic lives together. My heart skipped a beat and then Dawn delivered the blow. Apparently one of the kids had left a Sharpie pen out and Freddy had drawn all over my favourite shirt.