Sunday morning, 7.40 am. I’ve been up for two hours. My daughter, Cora, woke up just after 5.30, snuggled into me on the sofa and promptly fell back to sleep. Meanwhile, I dozed, making micro movements to avoid waking her up whilst trying to get myself out of the damn awkward position in which I was lying.
Just after 7, she pings awake, informs me she needs her sleeping bag off (which she can’t do herself as we put it on backwards to stop her climbing out of it ten times before she goes to sleep at night) and that it’s breakfast time.
Like right now. My gentle, well mummy would just really love to pop to the loo is met with an indignant no! And since I really don’t want to wake up the rest of the house debating the point, out comes the Wheetabix.
Ten minutes later, in stumbles my four year old, rubbing his eyes and looking dazed. No good morning as he flops into my arms, just a what day is it? He’s asking because on Sunday he’s allowed to watch cartoons in the morning. It’s an arbitrary rule, made up for our own weekend peace so whoever’s on get up duty gets twenty extra minutes for a second cup of tea.
I flick through a book, Owen sits watching TV, Cora is ostensibly eating breakfast, but she learnt the word licking and likes to inform me this is what she is doing whilst craning her neck to see what’s happening in Mighty Express. There is an indescribable peace in this moment.
Then of course Owen spills his water down his pyjamas, then tells me it’s perfectly acceptable to sit on the sofa naked from the waist down. I disagree. Fortunately it’s still early and he’s not properly awake, so the discussion is a short one and soon the last five minute of train drama is playing on the screen, the cereal bowl is empty, and Dan has appeared, 30 years older but the exact template from which Owen was cut, rubbing his eyes and looking dazed. After a cursory up date on the kid’s food/toilet/mood status, I head back to bed for a snooze.
It’s not text book parenting, it’s not news and note worthy, but it’s real and happy.
For me, it’s what mum-ing is. It’s cuddles and uncomfortableness. It’s feeding and caring. Then feeding and caring for yourself. It’s taking a minute of quiet here and there. It’s routines and chaos.
I was going to say I don’t get it right a lot of the time. But who’s to say what right is. Any given day is filled with lovingly prepared meals and a biscuit stuffed into a hand to stop the associated mouth complaining. It’s filled with countless cuddles and snuggles and tens of will-you-just-cut-it-out-for-a-minute. It’s hours of biking and walking, baking and crafts, padded with some tv here and some ignoring there. It’s gaining love from giving love.
I don’t know if I mum right. I don’t think there is such a thing, but to mum to me means trusting you did what you could with the energy and experience you had, trying again tomorrow to do better and knowing your kids at least think you mum the best.