Monday, February 19, 2007

Could Do Better

Most of the time being a writer is the ideal career to fit around having children (especially if, from a very early age, you foster in them a deep love of television. I count myself very lucky that my children are utterly indiscriminate viewers and from about 6 months would have happily sat through three hours of Japanese Art-house cinema, if provided with a jammy dodger and a box of raisins). However, last week was half term in our house and very quickly everything went the shape of the pear.

In theory it should have all dovetailed nicely. The deadline for the book was Monday morning, and by the time school finished on Friday it was all pretty much ready to go. Of course, that was only because, apart from the odd midnight trolley-dash around Sainsbury's, I hadn't been out of the house for the previous three weeks. I rather like that feeling though-- I remember the huge satisfaction last time of looking up from the last page of the book and noticing that the kitchen was in danger of being closed down by environmental health, the bath was striped with a month's worth of grime and the ironing pile was positively Alpine in its dimensions, but feeling totally ready to throw myself back into the domestic fray and restore order. (Or my own version of it. My standards are really very low.)

This time matters were complicated by the advent of Daughter no. 1's birthday, at the end of half-term week. Thanks to my self-imposed exile from the rest of civilisation while I finished the book I'd failed to buy her a single present, or arrange even the smallest celebratory treat. Had this been Daughters no. 2 or 3, this wouldn't have been such an issue, but Daughter no. 1 is gloriously, extravagantly ambitious in her birthday expectations. Every year she begins planning the festivities the moment Christmas is over, and usually mid-way through January we embark on the annual process of negotiation and bargaining (you can keep the triple layered chocolate cake with musical candles if you'll give up the twenty-one gun salute, fire-eaters and peacocks roaming the lawns...) until we arrive at something mutually agreeable. (Or until she breaks me with her devastating combination of charm and logic.)

So, by an exhausting and elaborate process of deception and distraction I managed to do the birthday present shopping with the children in tow, issued very last-minute invitations to the necessary friends (some of whom were even available!) and stayed up to burn the midnight oil making a cake (the midnight oil wasn't the only thing I burned, actually, but an extra batch of butter icing covered up the worst of the damage) . It was all going to be OK, I thought in a rush of relief on Wednesday morning. Excellent. Deadline met. Maternal duties satisfied. Mouldy stuff removed from fridge. So what if my legs hadn't seen the attention of a razor for weeks and my hair was desperately in need of a wash (and a cut and a colourist, come to think of it...) That hardly mattered.

Until the door opened on Wednesday evening and an enormous bunch of flowers appeared, and behind it, my husband.

'Happy Valentine's day, darling.'

Damn. Damn, damn damn.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darling, I feel your pain. You are talking to the woman whose husband had to look at her one day (at 5pm) and say, "So, are you going to wish me happy birthday?" We were in the car at the time, driving from Vancouver to Edmonton, so I couldn't even flee to avoid my embarassment.

And of course, it didn't help matters that in a fit of trying to be better, I wrote it on the calendar for next year and said, "It's May 25, right?" to which he replied, "No, it's May 27." and I said (yes, I did say it): "Are you sure?"

So India, count yourself lucky that you remembered Daughter no.1's B-Day in time. As for the grime, mold, dust, mildew, remember that all life forms deserve life - even the one-celled ones. Declare your home a natural habitant for evolving creatures and charge the neighborhood kids a pound to ride the avalanche of clothing.

Wishing you a restful, calm week.

2:28 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

I'm all for equal rights but I was told this year by another woman that I was not to worry - I, too, didn't have time to buy a card, bake a cake, plan an extravagant dinner either in or out, or buy new lingerie - that it's the man's duty to splurge and go wild on Valentine's day. We (that is, females) are just supposed to sit back and relax and take it all gladly in. Not sure if I agree but this year I took the easy way out.

Good for you, India, on finishing the manuscript and sending it off!

5:24 pm  
Anonymous Sharon J said...

I know exactly where you're coming from, India. It was LM's 18th on Monday but I'd been so busy with one thing and another (our house has been in complete turmoil this past week) that I had to dash out on the day to get her a card, some balloons to hang up and book a table at her favourite restaurant. And this child (??) still tells me I'm the best mum in the world. Such faith!

I did manage to send a Valentine's card, though. I sent it on the 16th.


2:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, this is just like group therapy. Thank you for making me feel like I'm not alone with my inadequacies!

(Brown... did you really do that? You must have soooo many really, really lovely redeeming features to be forgiven that one!!)

Eva-- so what did you get?!

Sharon, it's great to see you back here! Your daughter sounds a lot more low-maintenance than mine, bless her! Bet you had a fab evening out, too.

(WHY won't blogger let me in?? I'm destined to be anonymous for the rest of my blogging days...)

4:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Darling,

I have so many redeeming features, the most of which includes a VERY forgiving husband!

Says Brown, aka Incognito

7:31 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

In answer to your question, India, I got snow-drenched tulips, rather a romantic image, don't you think?

However, they were handed to me by an enraged husband, furious that the bus failed to arrive at the metro station and he was forced to trek up the hill, with flowers in hand, during a snowstorm. I thought it all rather touching, actually, although a fuming husband is a sight I can do without!

Of course, the tulips didn't last long; still, they were given pride of place on the dining room table.

5:00 pm  

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