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Portrait of a Morning

The baby and I have spent the night on the sofa in the living room, while Matei has spent the night howling and kicking Z in the kidneys in our bedroom on the far end of the house. Between the baby's intestinal cramps and Matei's night terrors/campaign-to-make-us-lose-our-collective-minds it is hard to say which parent feels less rested after dealing with their respective charge.

Then it is 6:30am. The baby has woken up crying and grunting and then returned to sleep after unleashing a torrent of farts more noxious than anything produced by any cat. Pale winter light streams in through the blinds. The world outside the window is twilit and cold and here in the room the baby and I are wrapped in blankets and each other, safe in our own cocoon. We stare into each other's eyes and drift into the satisfying sleep of happy warm fed tiredness and mutual delight.

What feels like merely a cruel eyeblink of second later (but is probably more like an hour of human time) I hear the unmistakable noises of the prodigal son trampling our way. He is in high spirits and an excellent mood. He is making cheerful car noises and interrogating me on the whereabouts of his motorbike.

"Shushhhhh," I say. And "I don't know. Go look."

"I want to give the baby a Good Morning Kiss!" He vaults onto the sofa and headbutts her jovially. All females in the room suffer this with good grace. He hugs his sister and she obligingly tries to latch onto his ear. I cling to the remants of my sleep the way a drowning man holds a raft.

"Why don't you look for your motorbike in your room," I suggest pointedly. "Make sure to search as thoroughly and slowly as possible. Maybe under the bed. or in bed. Leave nothing to chance."

"All right!" my son says gamely and bounces off. Calm is restored. It washes over me. Helena and I re-embrace and drift on a healing sea.

Matei bounces back in.
"It is not there. where can my motorbike be Mummy?"

"I don't know. Where did you last play with it? Go look there."

Another cruel eyeblink of time he is back.

"I have not found it," he says.

"Gmmmnnnnphhh," I say.

"I couldn't see it anywhere."

"Mmmmnnnnhhh." I am hoping that a refusal to open my eyes will make him go away. Matei steps up his campaign of being noticed by beginning a play by play account of the Search Process So Far.

"I looked in my room and your room and the bathroom and the kitchen," he says and thumps the sofa for emphasis between each point. "I looked ALLL over there and all over EVERYWHERE and I didn't find it. NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND MUMMY?"

I grunt but the baby understands the gravity of the situation and responds with a howl.

"Go find something else to play with and I will look for it when I get up," I offer. Although normally this would only produce a torrent of protest, the excellent mood is holding up so off he goes and returns with a Slinky.

"look at me! look at what I can do!"

"Well done! You're playing it like a little Harmonica!"

"A harmonica!" Matei laughs and starts belting out fragments of Singing In the Rain. The baby grunts and moans and flutters her eyelashes.

"Shhhhhh," I say pleadingly. "Go sing to your father."

"But Daddy doesn't like it! He looks sad when I sing to him and sends me to you!"

Note to self: send memo to Z about sacrificing himself for the greater good of his family. Or invest in a parrot to keep Matei company and give him attention.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
I don't mean to laugh, because I know it's stressful - but what a brilliant read it makes! Way better than Tim Dowling and deserves a Guardian column!

You are lucky to be able to see the funny side of all the hard work...
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
Thank you, and by all means please laugh. I do too. Keeps my nerves in good order.
Nov. 10th, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
Please write a book. I promise I will buy it, I love these posts so much!
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I will be taking all these testimonials to any agent that doesn't show me the door if I ever manage to complete a manuscript. :)
Nov. 10th, 2010 10:43 am (UTC)
"But Daddy doesn't like it! He looks sad when I sing to him and sends me to you!"

I try that. It doesn't work. Maybe Z could start a blog offering tips.
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
Hahahaha, I'd love that but he would hate it. Writing is not really his medium.
Nov. 10th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
So funny! You should publish this, seriously :)
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. :)
Nov. 10th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
If anyone should write their autobiography, it's you. I hate to laugh at your trials, but this one had me in tears.

I hope Matei found his motorbike :).
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
Please laugh as much as you like. Seeing the funny side of this stuff keeps me sane.
Nov. 11th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Your comment on Holly (Nothing But Bonfires) recent post slayed me. You said in that small space what I have been struggling to describe to myself, to others, for the past year and a half. As long as my daughter has been alive. (Only, I nicknamed her Infant Dick Cheney, She Who Tortures) It still catches me in the throat, takes the wind from me....looking across the room at her yammering to her dolls and horses. What WAS that? I love her so much now but then....then...I don't know what that was. Everyday was a struggle to keep from driving off a bridge, if for nothing more than a moment without The Screaming.

I've read and re-read it now maybe five times. It's sad and beautiful and perfect.
Nov. 12th, 2010 11:42 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your comment. I'm sorry we found ourselves part of the same postnatal tribe - I wish I'd known your story when I was living out my own.

I'm glad things are so much better now for all of us.

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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