I felt a searing pain in my left ear as a maniacal giggling toddler stamped on it and I winced as I opened my eyes just in time for the other child to turn the bright ceiling light on. 5.30am on a cold Sunday morning…time to get up, apparently.
As the sun rose over a frosty corner of England and Catrin began working her way through her entire dressing-up repertoire (which had to be worn over her pyjama onesie, making trips to the toilet a bit tricky), I contemplated the necessary excursion to the supermarket (which was made particularly essential by the consumption of the last Barney Bear cake bar in the cupboard).
Following a heated debate about when it is not appropriate to repeatedly shove a tiara into somebody’s eyeball and the extensive post-lunch clean-up and decontamination operation, we braved the unpleasantness which is an extremely busy Sainsbury’s on a Sunday afternoon. Now, I see many lone parents on the same food-buying mission with multiple children but, somehow, my daughters always appear to have the loudest, shriekiest voices in the whole supermarket and I feel like hundreds of eyes are glaring at me as I tell them both, yet again, to “Stop garrotting your sister!”; “Put that turnip down!” and “Don’t ram any more people with the trolley!”. I tried to zone out to regain a shred of sanity as we approached the dreaded Fruit Shoot section, but I found the work experience boy with the intensely bored, monotone local accent advertising “Meat bawwwwls” over the tannoy really annoying too. The cold blast of winter air as we left the store and the hoards of depressed Sunday shoppers behind was most welcome.
Much of the afternoon was spent untangling an entire ball of wool which Catrin had inexplicably draped and entwined around the entire two floors of our house like some sort of fiendish game from the Crystal Maze (I didn’t win the crystal). I was feeling quite cross when Catrin tip-toed up to me and told me she had a secret which she must whisper into my ear. I fully expected her secret to be something along the lines of ‘I have a piece of Lego in my pocket’ or ‘I want a sweetie’, but she whispered “I have tidied everything up”. I didn’t quite believe her as ‘tidying’ usually means putting a single block of Duplo back in the box or hiding one of her school shoes, so I had a look in the living room and was very happily surprised to find that the floor was completely devoid of the random selection of Gruffalo domino pieces, plastic balls and half-eaten slices of pizza!
I admit that, these days, I do find myself more easily irritated by mess, noise and defiantly grumpy small children than I used to…but my heart also melts in an instant whenever one of them does something lovely or even just smiles at me. When they were both tucked up in bed and snoring this evening, I stood for a moment and watched them breathing and, as it does every night, all the frustration of the day disappeared.