My morning so far.
I am asleep in a large wooden bed, unusually a husband slumbering by my side. I do not see enough of this bed. I like it. I enjoy its company but somehow we have drifted apart. I have been asleep for nearly two hours. The hands of the Mickey Mouse ticking clock march on and reach their destination. It is 2.40am. The silence lets out its breath and the door opens to reveal my six year old caught in the landing light. "Mummy, I feel like I'm going to be....bleaurgh". Our rented house has carpets. I sweep the wretched boy into the bathroom, trailing sickness after us and my husband wrenches himself from the warmth of the bed to fetch a bucket with soapy water for the carpet. My son refuses to go back to any bed but the one in my office so he and I curl up together with an empty tupperware box close by in case of emergencies. (Best to say "No thank you" to biscuits when the biscuit tin is full in my house although I am always very careful to wash it afterwards.) My poor white-faced, black-eyed child is sick at 3.15am and again at 4.20am. At 5.45am, his sister wakes up to be fed and I bring her in to bed. She is far from happy when she has to stop at 5.55am when her brother needs the biscuit tin again. I tuck the poorly one up and take the baby downstairs for a cock's crow breakfast with my husband. At 6.55am, he leaves for London. "Bye, darling," baby on my hip, I wave to him cheerily as he drives away.
When my four-year-old comes down for breakfast, I pour him a china bowl of strange rice crispy shapes, add semi-skimmed milk and lie on the kitchen floor with a soft woollen jumper for a pillow. The baby comes over to sit down on my head, then crawls away again. As I lie there, slightly chilly, I debate whether curling up on the kitchen floor is a symptom of mental illness and decide no one can see me so who cares. I have to get up when the doorbell rings. A mechanic stands waiting to fix the Volvo. I cannot find the keys. I say: "Give me a minute," and close the door. I clench my fists and beat my head with them to see if that will help me find them. It does.
Surprisingly, I found the china bowl for cereal without self-harming. My cousin who came to visit, organised my kitchen with startling ferocity. She talked me through her reasons for putting pots, pans and raspberry jams away. They have been placed around my borrowed cupboards and shelves with the same gimlet-eyed efficiency Wellington would use to deploy his troops in battle. Since I am the sort of general who would be hopping up and down with one foot in his shiny leather boot looking for the other one when the trumpet sounded, I have not got a clue where anything is. Last night, I ate my dinner with a spatula.