Solo: cleaner, quieter, lonelier

So I have another five days of solo parenting to go, and it has surprised me. I have never actually ever looked after the children on my own for longer than two days and that was only once and I am sure there were less of them. And Mark and I are a bit co-dependent in general, usually a bit clingy and couple-y and always prefer to do things together. And so this 17 day break has been actually very good as an exercise in learning a few things. Like these things:

  1. I am not cooking elaborate Ottolenghi meals every night in an effort to keep both of us culinarily sated/happily married. And as such, I have much more time and much more money. I eat what I give the children, which is generally dreadful, or I eat some classy combination of eggs and kale/broccoli/spring greens, which I happen to actually love, as opposed to being hypnotised by the clean eaters, and everything is done and cleaned up by 7:30 and I have a long evening in which to do stuff.
  2. What stuff? Well, indeed. I don’t know. This is where it all comes apart somewhat disappointingly. I could read, but I leave that until later. I could watch documentaries with Barnaby, which I did at first but after Making a Murderer we switched to more age-appropriate stuff like The Secrets Of The Tower of London and The Secrets of Scotland Yard and they were badly made and boring. Of course, that was once we could access Netflix again, after we had to order a new Apple TV remote because someone had lost the second one down the crumbly, sandy, hairy sticky side of the couch, which, once you shove your hand down there and dredge it back up, yields fistfuls of detritus and scratchy dried-up things which go under your nails and make you bleed and then you think THAT’S IT I WILL JUST ORDER ANOTHER ONE BECAUSE THIS IS REVOLTING and then I tried to watch The Night Manager on Sky but there was a mysterious PIN number needed and Mark wouldn’t respond when I sent desperate texts asking for the PIN and so it turned into evenings of wistful sighs and many lost hours biting off my split-ends. Also, some shameful hours spent watching Gentlewhispering open plastic packages and tap boxes, boring me rigid but enchanting me in equal measures, all with a tingly head.
  3. We, the remainders, are cleaner, tidier and less yelly than Mark and Casper.
  4. I sleep better by myself but still need to wear earplugs because the silence bothers me.
  5. The dog rejected my advances and still sleeps on the floor, even though I ask him again and again to come up on the bed and I enthusiastically pat the space next to me and I reassure him that Mark isn’t here. He just snorts a bit and sinks down back into his bit of the floor, kind of embarrassed for me.
  6. So it is a bit boring. Today the neighbour walked the dog, another neighbour took two kids and the school took Noah to see Fulham vs Bristol and I was like THANKS EVERYBODY but really Otis and I were very sad to see that everyone was gone. We see a lot of each other, and he isn’t really that keen on hanging out with me because I don’t like elaborate games involving crocheted blankets and hiding. And I wander around the flat, the cleaner, quieter flat, feeling like reading Vogue would be wasteful and self indulgent and so I should sort out things to take to the second hand shop, and Otis is deep in some solitary kind of game about spiders, and it’s really a bit lonely here.
  7. You would think all that kale would make me thin, shining, white in the eye and glossy of the hair, but actually I have spots and conjunctivitis. I have to wear my glasses constantly which slip down my nose all the time and give me tension headaches, and obviously my eyes are un-magnified through the thick blind-person lenses and so they look tiny and wrinkled and weepy and red. And everyone stands quite far away from me once I point out the sickly eye in case I give them the conjunctivitis just from existing. I want to shout NO YOU CAN ONLY CATCH THIS IF YOU STICK YOUR FINGER IN MY EYE JUICE AND THEN YOU STICK YOUR FINGER INTO YOUR OWN EYE JUICE but I don’t because I am weary of medical ignoramuses.
  8. Word on the street was that solo parenting is kind of fine throughout the week, because of the egg/kale situation and because of husbands usually being at work, so no difference, etc etc, but the weekends are a bit long and dire. So last weekend I primed them and bribed them with the 10am cheap movies and brunch at the Skandi KUPP and packets of star monsters, provided they were good and went to kick boxing without crying the whole way there. There is some ‘issue’ with the 100 pushups and sprinting and sweating bigger guys hitting them. Anyway, they went and then we did our movies/brunch/buying extravaganza and it was all kind of calm and good. This is what it looks like in the kick boxing gym, with an added wall of humid kid-sweat.


Here is Otis running up the three stairs at Paddington Basin after our pancakes, in a homage to Rocky Balboa:


And when it wasn’t about children, it was, of course, about me. Luckily I have glamorous women friends who are BAFTA members because they have done some important filmy contribution thing, so they get to watch new movies for free, and they get a plus one, which it quite often me. So last night I went to see Anomalisa at the BAFTA place and there was a veerrrrry dirty cheeseburger and twice-fried chips to get through first and a lot of prosecco to wash it down with, and I got excited and took a photo like a tourist:


So Mark and Casper get home on Thursday, right after I have left to spend a few days in Naples, because of the Ferrante novels. It’s a bookclub Ferrante-hunting-holiday.

To finish, a very profound video of Otis vacuuming in a terry towelling Elsa dress/bathrobe:

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8 Responses to Solo: cleaner, quieter, lonelier

  1. Do you think the earplugs are making you deaf? I also have to use them every night because horrendous snoring/earplug addiction and I never seem to hear anything in the day either anymore. It’s a blessing really, I suppose. (Eggs + green is also my default – although kimchi is the current favourite because it only involves opening a jar.)

  2. theharridan says:

    Kimchi! I am so late to the kimchi party! School me up – what do I need to know? Also yes, am both practically blind AND quite often deaf, certainly a blessing on many occasions, mostly involving the small flat and extremely loud obnoxious boys, which goes without saying, etc etc. But how I LOVE the way those earplugs remove me from the terrible nighttime noises, like a belljar, or a bottle of wine. Addicted. I asked the Dr once if it would do me some sort of harm, the long term addiction, but he laughed and said no. Just intolerance, I suppose.

    • We use this recipe but with actual fish sauce (think author is vegan) and little red radishes instead of daikon because Scotland. Teenagers complain it makes the kitchen smell all week WHICH IS IRONIC. It’s best after a second week in the fridge. So. Good.

  3. Jane says:

    We use this but with actual fish sauce(think author is vegan) and little red radishes instead of daikon because Scotland. Teenagers complain that it makes the kitchen stink all week WHICH IS IRONIC. It’s best after a second week in the fridge. So. Good.

  4. Kasey says:

    Are you really coming to Naples? I moved to Naples 6 months ago from Germany – can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the city. Would offer suggestions of cool places to visit but am hopeless on that front. Sure I could find some hip person to give you travel advice should you need it….

  5. theharridan says:

    I really am! Tomorrow. I will probably just follow the other book club fellas around, in a bid, non-thinking kind of way. No doubt someone has done their homework. If the Ferrante novels are anything to go by, we will be violently assaulted before long, anyway…I bet it is absolutely gorgeous.

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