Just before 9am on Wednesday morning, I tweeted to the world this picture:
It was rather unfair of me really, to send out a cyber-gloat showing both of my children calm and content so early in the day. There was the two-year-old, drawing happily in his high chair, concentrating on his masterpiece. And, watching over him while happily sucking on her fingers, was my six-month-0ld daughter. Their seats were turned to face each other, they had probably just been chatting happily to each other while I looked on. There wasn’t even too much clutter in the background. Yes, this was a scene of domestic bliss.
But there was more to the story than this little tableau showed. The photo, you see, is a fake.
It is not a fake in the sense that it didn’t happen. It is not a fake in the sense that it was posed. No, this photo taken on my phone captured a fleeting moment of calm in the kitchen on Wednesday morning. But I took the snap just to prove to myself that occasionally, life can be this tranquil. Occasionally, life looks like it is all under control.
This image of domestic bliss is, you see, in no way representative of the status quo at our place on any given morning at 9am. It was, you see, a fluke.
The fake domestic bliss lasted for about a mili-second – just long enough for me to press click, in fact.
Before I had even put down my phone after taking this photo, Milin threw his notebook and pencil on the floor. Hard. He was annoyed that the binding of the book meant it wouldn’t lie open by itself. He is two. He doesn’t have the co-ordination to hold a heavy book open with one hand and draw with the other. I shouldn’t have given it to him.
Jasmin is sweetly sucking on her fingers, yes. But less than a minute later she sticks them too far into her mouth and is sick all over her chair and herself. As I pick her up, she is sick again – all over my clothes. I have no other clean jeans.
Milin’s beaker sits, quite full, on the table. It is out of his reach because not only has he refused to eat anything this Wednesday morning, but he has refused to drink his water too. That beaker becomes the source of our major battles that day.
On the kitchen table, almost out of shot, is the packet of ‘Dr Peppa Pig’, which is Milin’s name for the Peppa compress which lives in our fridge. Minutes before this photo was taken, he was pressing the compress to his head. He had banged it when I wasn’t watching him. I was distracted by Jasmin, or by something on my phone, or by something else.
While the children sat in their chairs, I was running around, trying to find Milin’s hat, my keys, Jasmin’s pramsuit, and my sunglasses to make sure I didn’t need to look the world in the eye. We were late to meet a friend. I had decided not to go to our weekly singing class partly because it was sunny out and partly because I couldn’t be bothered. I’d had two cups of coffee already even though I’m trying to limit myself to one a day. We ran out of the door, finally, after more tears, after I’d snapped curt words and wished I hadn’t, after I once more wondered how other mums made life look so easy, and after I’d just about wiped the sick from my clothes and out of my hair.