It is the final week of the summer holidays as Millie returns to school in a few days time and Gabriele will begin pre-school next month! Eek! Where does the time go? Seriously? My little Millie will be 7yrs old in just five weeks time and I’ll be *cough*27*cough* in six weeks from now. I find myself at yet another crossroads and I’m literally standing here with no map or satnav.
I have loved the summer holidays with the children and we’ve made some wonderful and precious memories. We’ve also been complete hooligans in the sense that bedtime is well and truly out of the window, we’ve consumed God only knows how many pizzas, had more treats than Christmas, and been on far too many spontaneous shopping sprees to have given my Visa friction burns. But that’s what the summer holidays are all about for children isn’t it? Staying up late until you fall asleep sitting up, running across hills as fast as you can, turning the music up to drown out the awful singing, licking ice lollies before they dribble down your face and neck, and doing things that normal everyday life just wouldn’t allow. Hey kids, let’s build a giant tulip out of lolly sticks, why not!?
It has been a beautiful bubble of sunshine, smiles, giggles, cuddles and love that I will cherish forever. Although we didn’t go on a holiday abroad this year, I’m hoping that by next summer when Gabriele turns three it will be a little easier for me to single-handedly juggle all three of our suitcases, pushchairs and hands to hold, as at this moment Gabriele is a little monkey and is going through the terrible twos with his tantrums, getting overtired and refusing to sit still. It’s not his fault as he’s only little and doesn’t fully understand, but even simple trips to the supermarket to do the weekly shop can turn into carnage when he fills a nappy, cries for a drink or decides he doesn’t like sitting in the trolley anymore and tries his hardest to stand up and trolley surf. When he is good he is a beautiful and sweet little angel, kissing my eyelids and stroking my face, but when he’s feeling mischievous and restless he is a little chocolate log!
So my aim for next summer is to have Gabriele potty trained for when we go away, as he’s 80% mastered that already now, then we needn’t take loads of nappies and wipes or risk bed-wetting at a hotel. To instil the importance of holding my hand in public and walking by my side, as I freak out at the thought of somebody snatching a young child or getting lost in a crowd and he loves to run off ahead and get us to chase him which really freaks me out. To calm the terrible twos for tantrums and welcome a peaceful and relaxed three. And finally to ditch the pushchair, nappy bag and backpack of toys when we go out and for Gabriele to be content with simply walking and exploring, self contained and self satisfied as it’ll be far easier for him to speak and communicate his needs then. I can see it now, standing in an airport trying to drag three suitcases single-handedly with Millie desperate for the toilet, Gabriele running in and out of my legs as I become trapped in a fold up pushchair like a giant venus fly trap, and the tannoy calling last passengers for our flight from the opposite end of the airport in some random foreign language. Life would be a gazillion times easier if we all dropped our baggage and just got on with what we want to do. I happily leave my handbag, makeup and phone at home when I go out with the children because I have no reason to touch up my face, speak to anybody else or carry unnecessary hair accessories and deodorant with me. When it’s us, it’s just us.
I’m considering teaching Gabriele yoga and for him to join in on my workouts as I think it will really help to balance and centre him. He’s such a sweet little boy and can be so calm and delicate, but then out of nowhere he’ll explode, jump up onto a table, kick over the bowl of pot pourri, squeal at the top of his lungs and launch himself off into the air like an ecstatic ninja. I’m guessing that’s just boy hormones in him, giving him that little kick of craziness and excitement much like a woman during her menstrual cycle, only minus the actual cycle. And it can’t be easy for him being the only male in the house, outnumbered by his mum and big sister and puffs of glitter and clouds of perfume and unicorns. He is most certainly our balance, the worms to our wands and the terrorist to our tiaras, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because our little family is priceless.
So with the summer holidays drawing to an end and my birthday approaching yet again, I can’t help but get that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. That notion that yet another year is ending, the assessment of the past twelve months and the curiosity of the future. 2014 has been an incredible year for us all, we’ve achieved so much and equally grown and flourished as both individuals and a family unit. But are we any closer to our goals? And what goals are they? I look at ‘other people’ in public and life just seems so normal for them. “Hunny what shall we get for dinner tonight? Do you fancy a curry or shall I cook for your parents at the weekend?” “I don’t mind sweetheart, I’m just booking holidays and painting the nursery.” Insert raised eyebrow here. It’s that classic boy meets girl, they fall in love, move in together, get a cat/dog, get married, have children, live out their old age together and celebrate a zillion years of marriage and copious amounts of grandchildren. I on the other hand have done everything backwards, upside down and inside out. I’m here with my two babies, rattling around in the house alone at night, no marriage, no joint ownership of a pet and no nursing home buddy to grow old with. I have become entirely accustomed to life alone, my twin wardrobes are packed with shoes, bags and dresses, all colour coded and evenly spaced like a fashionable army force. My super king size bed is the perfect size for me to sleep like a starfish and Gabriele to have his own side, I will get him into his own bed one day! And I don’t rely on, ask anything of, need, expect or miss anyone being here with me, I am completely self sufficient to myself and children, but it’s not ‘normal’ is it?
Life is about finding that special someone to share all of your hopes and dreams with, to fall asleep together at night and wake up in the morning with a massive smile on your face and your heart skipping a beat for how lucky and loved you feel to have each other. I don’t expect fairytales, I don’t even expect a smile, but I guess I think I want what I’ve never had? And that’s the worst thing ever, because I doubt it will ever exist. I’m gradually becoming more of a hardened lifer, in it for the long haul alone. Day by day I add a brick to my fortress wall and disconnect myself from the ability to share my heart with anyone but my children. I don’t want to be like that, and although I’ve been very badly hurt in the past it’s not all men that I hate. But it’s hard when you’re busy in your own little bubble of responsibility and routine, juggling a family single-handedly and maintaining everyday life to ever see a way to give an inch, to make that adjustment and rock the boat to let another on board at the risk of them one day watching you drown again. I feel a little like Tom Hanks in shipwrecked, I think I’d sooner draw a face on my perfume bottle than allow a man to lift my toilet seat.
And with winter approaching I love log fires, mulled wine, crazy knitted snowflake cardigans and Ugg boots, walking hand in hand, ice skating like Bambi and cuddling up under a blanket to watch a DVD. And really you can’t do those things on your own can you, drinking by yourself activates the alarm for alcoholic tendencies, hugging yourself is a bit weird, skating like Bambi solo is frankly dangerous because you have nobody to take down with you and cushion your fall, and watching a DVD alone leaves you with nobody but the dog to hide behind if you’re scared, and my dog is a chihuahua so he can’t keep me safe. I actually watched a film alone the other day as it happens and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called. It was about an air hostess who was looking for a date for her sisters wedding and so she spent a month being wined and dined by previous boyfriends and potential suitors. From high school sweet hearts to high flying congressmen, lovers to lusters and everything in between and in the end after all of the glitz and glamour it was her best friend who she chose. The one who knew her inside and out, made heartfelt gestures, always picked her up when she was down and was always there as a shoulder to cry on. It was so sweet when she opened a gift box at the end of the film and it was sweets made into a ring, because her best friend had given her a ring when they were in junior school so that he could eat her lunch, and there he was all those years later, still there for her but this time with diamonds. It just melted my heart and I wanted to hug them both and say “at last!” but obviously they’re actors and it’s entirely made up.
That’s when it really hit me, I want something like that, not just jelly jewellery, but a soulmate because everybody around me is getting married and having babies and I’m just here with my lentils being the black sheep. What makes the transition for a girl from spinster to Mrs S is marrying her soulmate, and up until now I’ve simply gained amazing experience in knowing exactly what I don’t want. I don’t want to be treated like how I’ve been treated in the past, I don’t want to feel how I’ve felt, and I don’t want to put up with all of the ludicrous and impossible things that I stupidly put up with before. I know exactly what I don’t want, I just have to recognise what I do want. So in the meantime I guess I’ll just make the most of leg stubble, love song sing-alongs, martinis and a gorgeously uniformed wardrobe arrangement. Sigh.