As you may have guessed from my previous blog post, things haven’t worked out according to my original plan this Christmas. We’ve stayed in our own house for the first time since I left home. I’ve been wanting to have a Christmas where everyone came to us for some time, but I wasn’t planning on having it happen because S had fallen down the stairs and done himself an injury.
An update: he had his operation yesterday and is now home, sleeping off the drugs and catching up on the rest he didn’t get last night. His arm is covered in pen marks, dye and all kinds of colourful bruising, as well as the dressing. He was barely awake when we picked him up (how to waste half an hour of your life – try and find somewhere to pick someone up at QMC hospital, how hard is it to have a well signposted pick up and drop off point? Very hard indeed, it seems) having never been able to cope without sleep and been pumped so full of drugs it was a wonder he made his way out. (He rarely takes any kind of painkiller, his system must be wondering what the hell’s going on.)
My family came up to us on Sunday and spent a hectic two days opening presents, eating, and recovering from the drive up here before heading back down the motorway. It was lovely to see them, and I’m incredibly grateful to them for making the effort. Before I do any kind of official Christmas ‘do’, we really do need to move somewhere bigger. With me, E and S it’s cramped enough, when there are two more adults and two more children, it really is incredibly difficult. Airbeds and sofabeds are all very well but you do need room to put them up. (My sister brought an airbed with her that inflates to the height of a divan – who knew such a thing existed? I wouldn’t have thought of it in a million years. But once it was up, there was no crossing the dining room from one side to the next.)
Despite hating any kind of car journey myself these days, I have missed not going home or to my in-laws. It’s unlikely we’ll go away to see them for New Year. This does mean that not only have I avoided any driving or car journeys but I’ve also been able to do boring but necessary adulting – buying new bed sheets and storage for E’s toys in the sales, having a brief clear out and so on – but it still feels strange not going away. It’s not just because it’s habit. I think we all like to return to our parents’ houses occasionally as an excuse to abdicate from responsibility for a little while.
You know what it’s like. Parents make nice dinners, have dishwashers and tumble dryers, and want to send time with the children. You can sit back and relax, you don’t have to do anything.
If you took a poll of working mothers and asked them what they consider a luxury, I think you’d find a large number would state having an afternoon to do nothing except read a book on the sofa and make their way through a box of Ferrero Rocher. Forget cruise liners and spa days, it’s the ability to relax interruption-free that we all want. E and I put S to bed, Storm Frank* was raging outside so we decided to watch movies all afternoon. But E can’t watch movies without fidgeting and clambering about, using me as a climbing frame and demanding food or drink.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with E and I’m really grateful that she’s been so well behaved the last two days. (By the way, I have a new found respect for single parents – I spent two days with just E and am losing my mind, how they do it all the time is beyond me.) But we all need a little looking after once in a while. And having said that, I’m going to retire to the sofa to watch the Anne of Green Gables DVD I got for Christmas, and eat some Ferrero Rocher.
*I know we’ve got this new system of naming storms but couldn’t we have been more inventive? This is the land of Dickens and Shakespeare, are you telling me ‘Frank’ was the best name they could come up with?