Its all seems pretty ordinary now, my little routine with the children, my day to day life, but at the weekends it all turns on its head. I tend to think a large part of this slightly stressful U-turn is down to the fact my husband comes home at the weekends. Having been in London for the week, in his sparsely decorated flat he shares with his recently separated mate, I often feel like I have a teenager returning from university each weekend.
My quiet little house, that is clean and tidy is suddenly descended upon with a HUGE bag of dirty washing, rucksacks cascading with unopened post and within roughly thirty minutes the fridge is empty and the place smells like a boys locker-room! How? How do they do that????
I used to take a basket and walk from the front door following my husband through the hall, the kitchen and into the lounge, collecting each random item he discards along the way until he reaches the sofa. This will include (and not be limited to) blackberry, phone, tobacco, lighters (plural), iPod, earphones,rizla, filters, collarbones, cuff links, tie, socks, shoes, coat, scarf, laptop, rucksack, watch, wallet, receipts, used tissues, business cards, more lighters (!), loose change, keys, more keys, taxi receipts, glasses, glasses case, post-it notes and other odd bits of gadgetry I don't understand, and then the random stuff I can neither contextualize nor fathom for instance a tube of pritstick glue?!
All these items come out of pockets and off of his person like he was Inspector Gadget getting undressed! I can only liken it to if a woman got home each evening and then proceeded to take all of the things out of her handbag and leave them all at various points around the house!
The children are invariably excited to see him and so loud noise and lots of shouting takes place from about 7pm. Then the normally peaceful and quick ritual of bedtimes is turned on its head. Baths take twice as long, washing hair erupts into screaming and brushing teeth becomes a tantrum. Stories go on forever and eventually come 9pm my normally silent house returns to its somewhat semi state of quiet with Top Gear playing in the background, Sport on in the kitchen and the blackberry buzzing away on top of the piano.
Restoring the balance does not happen until midday Monday,hepled by having recently gone through the minefield that is hiring a cleaner. (You may laugh. There are some strange people out there!!!) My husband seems to have slightly missed the point of the hiring exercise. Now that I am working much more and want to spend my free time with the children and doing less housework, I thought this made sense. My husband sees this as not needing to lift a single finger, "cos the cleaner can do it!" hhmmm not quite the point, but I think this is just a venus/mars discrepancy of opinion...
I know many mothers who deal completely and utterly with the children 24/7. Even those who have live in partners/fathers. Personally I like this. I think dealing with your children, being responsible for their meals, clothes, washing, activities, school reports, homework etc etc is good when undertaken by one parent. I find it very, very difficult to try and do it alongside someone on a part-time basis who wants to be completely involved at the weekends, but very understandably so.
Has equality gone a bit too far? I think its good when women do mothering jobs, with maternal instincts to match and men should do "man" jobs, fix stuff, car stuff, heavy duty stuff, not- (as mine likes to do) have a go at doing the washing, to disaterous consequences. This morning I open the tumble dryer and find my cashmere jumpsuit (dry-clean only) and one particularily non-colourfast blue jumper and all my childrens clothes inky blue... Brilliant!
Do all mothers find it easier to just parent alone? I mean the day to day stuff, the routine things, getting dressed, making lunchboxes, load of washing, quick flit with the hoover, sort out mid morning bottle and nap, do chores, pick up from school, veto TV watching and playroom tidying. When two of us are home, this stuff just becomes impossible, its like two people doing one persons job.
This weekend was a pretty standard one, shopping to be done, errands to run, 4 year old birthday party, bit of gardening, see the neighbours, DIY stuff, just the usual. And yet come today I feel like I've been on a rollarcoaster for the last 48 hours. I often think to myself, I wonder what people do at weekends who don't have children???? I can't remember????!