One of the women in Zac's went into labour in the early hours of last Monday (3rd). I'd agreed to go and look after her 18-month-old while she was in hospital so at 2.30 am - when Husband had finally heard the phone ringing and woken me - off I trotted. I thought I'd be there 24 hours, 48 at the most. I came home yesterday evening - 8 days later.
I'd forgotten how wearing it is to have a constant shadow especially when that shadow didn't like to go to bed in the evening until past my bed-time. But even worse than caring for a toddler was coping with a coal fire. My granny, who kept our home fire burning until she was in her 80s, would have been ashamed of me. I'm afraid my language deteriorated slightly. I fear Toddler's first word may be 'crap', in which case I shall deny all knowledge.
It is pleasing to know that, though I may have let down my granny, Great-auntie Vi, who could swear like a trooper, would have been proud of me.
With no internet access and mobile reception intermittent at best and seeming to depend on which way the wind was blowing I felt cut off and in danger of being swallowed up by the world of Mr Bloom, Mr Tumble, Mike the Knight and the inhabitants of 64 Zoo Lane.
Over on Facebook I listed a number of firsts for this last week; the list included burning my finger with a cigarette lighter. I hope that is now explained. Next on the list was being chased by a gang of swans, geese, ducks, seagulls and coots. It had seemed a good idea to take Toddler and the old bread to feed the birds on a nearby lake. How was I to know they would surround me and try to take the bread out of my hands? No amount of squeaking or saying, 'Shoo! Shoo!' while backing away deterred them so I ended up flinging slices of bread in the air and running. (By the way, Toddler was parked in his pushchair at a safe distance away in case anyone from Social Services is reading this.)
Next came shopping at Lidl. It seemed appropriate, given that I was living on the east side, to pay a visit to the supersaver store. I managed to resist the cheap Belgian seashell choccies but gave in to the freshly-baked Tiger loaf, which was delicious.
Taking Toddler back and for to hospital (on the west side of town) to see his mum gave me plenty of opportunity to call into home for an occasional shower and brief respite when Husband took Toddler out in the pushchair. I could not have survived this week without Husband who is a truly wonderful and generous man. I'm also very grateful to Wendy and Vincent who stopped by on Saturday evening to give me a break.
On my forays home I usually remembered to pick up clean underwear but, at the end, had to wear the same knickers for two days. Shudder. I thought about taking Toddler to playgroup but couldn't face it knowing I was wearing old knickers.
That was the final thing on my list but I should have added 'driven around with a banana on the roof of the car.'
And as for being a single mum, especially those without family support, well, I don't know how they do it.
I had a car, which at least allowed me to get around but, and here I'm going into rant mode, the number of parent and child parking spaces is woefully inadequate. Without wishing to sound disablist, if you're disabled there are plenty of reserved parking spaces everywhere and I'm sure there are more parent and children than disabled. In the whole of the hospital car park - the inadequacy of which is another rant in itself - there are just three spaces for parent and child parking. If you've ever tried to get a baby in or out of a car parked in a normal space you'll know how hard it is. And I know they don't encourage child visitors in hospitals but there must be times when it's important or unavoidable. When I was sitting in the queue slowly moving around the full car park I saw three families struggle getting out of cars.
If I had any energy left I'd start a campaign.
And in the midst of all this Younger Son and Nuora came home from Malaysia (good) and Wales lost to Australia (bad).
Still now things should return to normalish as I only have to visit Mum and children most days for the next two weeks and that'll be a doddle!