Tens of times this summer when I thought of something, I half wrote it in my head and swore I would write it here when the kids were asleep. My baby did her baby thing and took everything from me. It was all I could do to wipe the concealer from under my eyes and not fall asleep on the sofa after they were all down. I have scanned insta-stories as I brushed my teeth, read blogpost after blogpost about day trips and staycations and foreign jaunts and yet I could not bring myself to put finger to keyboard to do the same.
This is the write off summer. Our bucket list is untroubled. The boat trips to islands (Dalkey, Ireland’s Eye) not taken. The scenic sights (the Sugarloaf, the Mayo greenway) unconquered. We have been to familiar parks (Phoenix Park mostly, and the small local one). I have split myself in three; one wants the playground, one carries a football everywhere and wants me to ‘take shots’ on him, and one wants me to stop everything and whip a boob out to feed her. Therein lies the rub; she wins, and takes precedence over all things. There’s nothing like a baby to slow things down.
We did make it to the beach in Wexford, which is the most important achievement in anyone’s summer.
I don’t think my sons will look back and think they were robbed of anything. I think they’ll remember that between supermarket trips and boring walks to the post office that they were not being ferried too many places. This year there’s been probably a little too much screen time and a lot too many treats. There’s been too much shouting, I know that: I apologised to my neighbour two doors up a couple of weeks ago, though she swears she loves to hear the kids outside playing. The neighbour on the other side told Teddy he has a lovely singing voice. That means she knows exactly what my fishwife (fishmother?) voice sounds like too as I beg them to cease and desist with the trampoline based violence.
From my perspective, I probably would have got more ticked off a To-Do list if I had just been home with a baby. I began to paint the back garden in the evenings. It got interrupted on bad nights when I was too tired to contemplate painting breeze blocks. Those same freshly painted sections now have dirty marks on them borne of hours of Dominic kicking a ball against them. I tell myself he wouldn’t have been able to perfect his chips, rebonas or volleys if we had been off #makingmemories on various day trips. The drawers I swore I’d clear out during baby naps are getting there at a snails pace. Though the work is slow, my boys are sparking joy while we go. (And I’m not getting rid of as much as I hoped)
I’m not naturally inclined towards spending every waking hour with small people who use me like a walking talking search engine. All I want is 10 minutes silence and someone else to fold the laundry. But I was there this year and I appreciate this time because I know it probably won’t happen again. They don’t know it, but they’ve been lucky to have a parent around the last three summers, twice due to redundancy and once due to maternity.
It’s bittersweet, this impending return to school and getting back into routine. One boy can’t wait to get back to his mates. The other one is approaching his new start with admirable confidence. I’m looking forward to long walks with my best girl, who snoozes while I rack up the kilometres and down the coffee. It’s a far cry from asking what we’re doing next and if we can have jellies when we get there? Her day to quiz me and beg for ‘device’ will come. I just hope I can carve out even half the time the boys have gotten to be there with her.