5 am. Passionate babbling brutally brings my deep autumn sleep to an early end. Woof, woof, meow, meow, mooo – my little bundle of joy is revealing his impressive repertoire of animal sounds, mind you, acquired not without effort. To add to the show he claps and stomps enthusiastically. I raise one of my stone – heavy eyelids, but can see nothing but darkness (as you do at 5 am in November). With the last tiny streak of will power I drag myself out of bed. Today is my morning shift with Joseph, and there is no chance that I can get away from it. I’m busting for loo, but if only I try to sneak out to the bathroom he will turn on his very powerful alarm signal, that is sure to wake up the neighbours in at least couple of miles radius. I don’t want to take responsibility for mass sleep deprivation, low mood, failed exams, overdue reports and all its other possible consequences, so I just give in and take Joseph to the bathroom with me.
Anyway solo trips to the bathroom are pure luxury nowadays, like staying in One and only resort on some tropical island – both equally unachievable. Always together, because world ends when mum disappears behind bathroom door. Mum locked away in a bathroom is an object more desirable than Santa, Tooth Fairy, all the elves and Rudolph with Easter bunny put together, on a chocolate festival in Disneyland.
I pee. My one year old son is playing with domestos. Shower gels and shampoos noisily land one by one in the bathtub. In our unwritten manual of morning shift with Joseph there is a rule of reducing noise to a minimum, so trying to abide regulations I take him downstairs, so as not to wake up the rest of the family at this unbearable hour.
I put the kettle on, and Joseph starts his everyday ritual of throwing everything out of cupboards. I regret not putting the locks on them for the hundredth time (they leave marks on furniture + little one needs to explore, right?). And so the everyday mayhem begins. Spices, lids, ladles and teabags are flying across the kitchen. Two tins of mackerel make sound as powerful as drums (if you were ever after cheaper substitute).
As every new mum quickly discovers, little teddies like to be carried around, and can exercise really persuasive veto, if they don’t get what they want, and as I have to carry on with the day somehow, I just hold the baby with one hand, and do most morning chores with the other. I mastered that skill to the level I could probably join a circus as a one handed acrobat. I can make coffee, tidy up the kitchen (only level light though), wash the cup, unload the dishwasher and make a sandwich. And all of this with just one hand! Maybe it’s not a skill good enough to show on ‘Britain’s got talent’ and won’t get me a fortune, but you certainly can’t put price on it when you have an infant.
Right then, time for brushing teeth – only 4 that is, but the effort is proportionate to maintaining oral hygiene of a group of chimpanzees. He runs away, I run after him, I force toothbrush in his mouth, he takes it out and throws away. Deep breaths and counting to 10 (doesn’t work). There is no other bloody way to do it but pin him down, immobilise him and do it against his will. When I’ve done it properly, I let him try brushing (or rather sucking the toothpaste off the toothbrush) by himself, so that he gets used to the idea, that he will be doing that thing all his life. Plop, and toothbrush dripping with saliva makes white doodle on my black skirt. F*@^*, it’s my punishment for disregarding rule of getting dressed just 20 seconds before leaving the house. I wipe it with wet cloth, as dark wet patches are way more chic than white stains, obviously.
Finally we are out. White bits of fluff and hair on my black tights (despite actually putting them on right before leaving the house), that drive me mad so much and make even the most classy outfit looking scruffy.
Lots of pairs of immaculate black tights are passing me by, not a trace of dust or hair on them, and as always I can’t figure out how on earth do they do that? Is it some sort of a secret knowledge you can only acquire through the rite of passage or something, way more advanced and effective than lint roller from H&M?
Last bit of our route to nursery. It was fairly easy until now as it was Joseph’s nap time, and I used to just leave him fast asleep, blissfully unaware in the pushchair at nursery, and sneak out without my heart aching, but with not entirely clear conscience. But recently my little son outsmarted me and stays alert all the way, as if suspecting my deception. He looks around all the time and as soon as he sees nursery gate the hell breaks open. He screams, I unpack him from his pushchair and winter clothes, first drop of sweat trickling on my upper lip. We come inside, Joseph desperately clinging to me like little koala. The chorus of crying babies makes him wail even louder and I feel my heart sinking deep into my abdomen, and a bolt of stress striking right through me. Sweat is now literally pouring down my back and bottom. At last he is taken from me, kicking and screaming, never goes down without a fight. I take a sip of water to wash down this bitter mixture of adrenaline and guilt.
I drag myself to work way past 9 o’clock and I feel, as if I already worked at least half a day. How else could I feel, I’ve been up since 5 am. Just another day in mummy’s life.