That went well. The rented house looks like a shipwreck. Clothes, books, toys and bedding are strewn across each and every room while in the hallway, plastic binbags breed like something from a low-budget sci-fi movie. I keep thinking: "Socks for school tomorrow" and realise I have no idea where they are. Then I think: "Knife, I need a knife for the bread". No idea either. I may send the boys to school wearing saucepans on their feet.
Then, it all got much worse because my husband left to catch the train for London. He is away for three weeks on a work deadline. Just before he left, the children wanted a hug so he went upstairs to kiss them goodbye. This gave me the chance to pour and swallow the remains of a bottle of chablis in the kitchen and burst into tears. I had just got my act together and he came down again to tell me he had screwed the tops of the children's wardrobes on so they would not come down and kill them but I had to ring the TV repair man tomorrow because the TV is not working. I stopped crying at the thought of three weeks with three children and no TV. But by the time we said goodbye, I was already snuffling away again. As he headed into the night with his smart trolley-dolly suitcase on wheels, I closed the heavy wooden door behind him and went back to the kitchen to pour another glass of whatever I could find. Cooking oil probably. I was just about holding it together till I heard the siren wail of my six-year-old from the top of the stairs. Two minutes later and my husband cracked open the door to slide in a stray children's car seat; he glanced up the staircase to find a sobbing six-year-old dressed in a robots' sleepsuit with his legs wrapped round his crying mother. "We'll be fine. Go and get your train. Hurry up or you'll miss it." I waved him away. As the door closed heavily behind him again, my four-year-old came out of the bedroom. He kelt down and kissed me: "I love you mummy," he said and lay next to us on his tummy as I patted his brother's back and rocked him gently back and forth. "Shush now," I whispered. "Shush. We'll be fine."