Today I put myself in time out. And not just a lousy minute for every year I’ve graced this earth (that’d be, err, cough cough, 21 minutes then, yes?) No, I put myself in five; let me say that with as much accentuation as I can, FIVE hours of glorious, wonderful, child-free, husband disengagement, Time Out!
I got a Sunday off. A rare and special treat, but one I thoroughly deserved. A little reward for surviving another season as my family's Chief Entertainment Director. So the Sunday Brunch Gang (a mixture of my Mum and Mom friends who I coerced into my little scheme) fled our respective homes whooping with joy at the prospect of spending time with each other where we could:
1) Actually finish a story without being interrupted by a small person’s request or breaking up a fight. (I guess we could've had a brawl just for laughs, but it was lunchtime and we couldn’t drink and drive and we didn’t want to mess up our ‘best clothes.’ We don’t get to wear them that often!)
2) Eat a whole meal, sitting throughout, whilst it was still warm and not have to share it with a family member.
3) Be in a restaurant without having crayons, paper and half of Toys R Us at the table.
4) Go to the bathroom, alone and with the door shut.
5) Not have to hear, 'Mummy/Mommy/Muuuummmeee/Moooommmeee!!!'
6) Leave a table without their being a ton of food under it and sticky finger marks all over the chairs and our clothes.
7) Drink a coke and not have to hide it.
8) And most importantly, order a dessert and not have to share it.
You get the picture. We were all desperate for a Time Out. So the husbands were given their orders and off we went to enjoy what the Americans do best: a big full fat caffeine loaded breakfast.
Him Downstairs was far too cocksure about manning the Entertainment Ship with no first mate. So confident, he even offered to watch my friend’s son too as her husband was having a midlife crisis and taking his Motorbike license test leaving her without babysitter.
She dropped her son off at ours...
“You sure you’re going to be OK?” we ask HD. Her son is Cheeky’s BF, thus we’ll be leaving my beloved with two rambunctious three year olds and Monkey, who is right in the middle of The Terrible Twos.
“We’re going to have a blast, aren’t we boys?” he says, getting out all the craft supplies. “Yeahhh, ye-hah!” the boys shriek in excitement, like he’s Disney World reincarnated.
“Do they do that for you when you get the paints out?” my friend asks me as we get into the car.
“No,” I reply. “They don’t even bloody notice!”
The brunch is lovely. Seven Mom/Mums let loose in dining and retail heaven with not a stroller at the end of our fingers or a toddler dragging at our heels. During breakfast (half of us on the eggs benedict & bacon, half of us on the French toast with fresh berries) phone calls from various husbands pepper our conversations. “He couldn’t find Aerial!” “He left the diaper-bag at Wal-Mart!” “He wants to know how much longer I’m going to be!”
My phone remained silent.
We paid our bill and went for a spot of retail therapy. We touched lovely knits in H&M. We tried on Fedora hats in For Love 21 (like Accessorize for UK chums) and we laughed over lipsticks in Nordstrom (Selfridges).
Still my phone didn’t ring.
Four o’clock came and most of out happy band of shoppers drifted back to their families.
“I’m calling him,” I said. A mild case of redundancy was starting to set in.
“Hi you,” he answers and I can hear the squeals of joy in the background.
“Everything OK?” I ask.
“What? Hang on. Yes, I am coming boys. Just talking to mummy. Yeah, we’re fine. Having a blast. No need to rush back. Stay out. Enjoy yourself.” Click. Brrrr...
“Alright?” my friend asks, seeing my jaw hit the ground.
“Yes. They’re fine,” I say. “Having a whale of a time apparently!”
And with that, I’m not having quite as much fun anymore. Obviously I totally commend HD on his ability to spend five hours straight with three toddlers and still be smiling at the end of it. But I am, let’s be honest, a bit put out. After all, I’m the Chief Entertainment Director in our family, aren’t I?
When I arrive home with two lovely purchases swinging from my arms, (I plumped for one of the lovely knits in H&M and a bottle of Eau Dynamisante) I am greeted by the sight of HD galloping round the garden riding the mop, with five other Knights of the Mom/Mum Household in his wake. (He’s acquired a couple of the neighbourhood kids such is his magnetism.) They are charging towards a homemade cardboard castle complete with working drawbridge and fully decorated with a rainbow’s worth of finger paints!
No-one’s noticed Mummy’s home...
“Hello!” I wave and am virtually thrown off balance by my firstborn (Cheeky) who’s making a stampede for the drawbridge on his very speedy broom.
“Watch out mummy. You’re in the way!” he shouts.
“Lovely to see you too,” I mutter.
HD spots me and canters over full of excitement at the wonderful day he’s had and very proud of the practically life-size second home they’ve built together. (He’s even got video footage for me to watch and 48 digi pics to mark said funtastic day.)
“Isn’t it great mummy?” Cheeky tethers his ‘horse’ to a turret. Yes, daddy’s even built them bloody turrets! “We’ve had so much fun!”
I know I should be pleased as punch. And I am. Sort of. I love the fact I’m married to a hands-on daddy. I love the fact that daddy loves craft because if I’m honest, even as a child, I’ve never been a ‘crafty’ kind of gal. But, I am definitely put out that the children appear to have had a far better time hanging out with daddy for five hours than they've had hanging out with me for four years! I feel demoted.
HD senses my woe. “We did miss you,” he says, giving me a kiss and a squeeze. Cheeky and Monkey reappear between turrets.
“Mummy,” says Cheeky. “Now you’re home, can you go and make us tea?”
I think it’s time I put Him Downstairs in Time Out don’t you?!