So, Mark and Barnaby have been away for 12 days and we have been variously calm, happy, ordered and clean. Life as a solo parent of 4 plus a dog is actually easier than having Mark here (with surly teen) and it is because I am in the throes of a Singleton Honeymoon.
I am sure it would come to some sort of shuddering halt quite soon (certainly when the money ran out) if it was actually for realz, but for now, I am basking in being in parental control, sleeping in a bed by myself, watching the third season of Love on Netflix without protracted negotiations/discussions/compromising (‘you choose this series, I get the next’ waaah boring zzzz), going to bed whenever I want to, reading for as long as I want to, begging the dog to sleep with me (although he won’t – he is frightened that the Hairy Alpha Guy will burst out from behind the curtains and catch him), getting my running gear on in the mother truckin’ bedroom at 5:40am with all the lights blazing instead of panto-sneaking into the bathroom and doing it there, and eating leftovers that are eked out all week, minimising cooking and maximising TV time e.g. the spaghetti bolognese has become a lasagne-esque pasta bake once I added ricotta and creme fraiche all over the top, while the first week I just ate up a huge mound of rejected sweet potato mash by adding eggs every night. The kids, meanwhile, are just eating whatever our kind neighbour brings down for them.
HAVE I NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT OUR NEIGHBOURLY BENEFACTOR?
We have a very kind, extremely mysterious man who lives upstairs with the 98 year old Israeli ex-judge/ex-Chief of Police/ex-serially married guy in a carer-capacity. He is from New Zealand, grew up on a farm and is now also a full-time accountant while looking after the old guy who, like Magic, tends to run away whenever the front door is left open. His other occupations are weird late night activities – when you walk the dog at 11pm at night, you can often spy him on a phone somewhere midway through the Estate, and he is also – crucially – committed to shopping for reduced bargains which he brings down to us. Often, we will have a late night delivery from him of four loaves of reduced Hovis bread, 32 brown bananas, four packages of slightly greying sausages and 18 M&S sausage rolls, all marked down to about 8p. I think he literally does a Supermarket Sweep for his household and ours right before the shops close, both because he loves a bargain and because I think it is his way of showing us that he loves us. Some of this bounty is gratefully received, and some of it just sits on a kitchen bench, getting more moist and way past the due date, as I wonder what to do with it and who I can give it to. There are only so many banana loaves a busy lady can make, if you know what I mean.
DISCLAIMER: I am perfectly happy with old food. I hate waste and I love reconfiguring meals until they get up and walk out of the fridge by themselves (see the spaghetti bolognese/lasagne hybrid that might stretch out for one more night, but might also have to be given to the dog. I think you can always tell by sniffing it fearlessly, no?). But I am also a terrible bread snob and sometimes, trying to use up seven bunches of kale before they get mouldering is just beyond me, and the constant stale hoards can get a bit annoying. Besides, no room.
But this week, he has come up trumps with two cooked chickens (why, who wants stir fried rice and chicken, kids?), 17 sausage rolls, four heads of lettuce, three Hovis loaves, gluten-free hot cross buns, M&S chocolate fudge cake, 14 pork sausages, six donuts, eight croissants and some very odd coffee spritzer. Tonight, the children will positively feast on the second round of sausage rolls with…lettuce. It is like a party, I tell you.
Pitfalls of Singleton Honeymoons
- I got a bit giddy with the whole staying up thing and watched Manchester By The Sea until midnight, and then couldn’t sleep until about 3am. Because of the sadness, and the wine.
- I keep thinking that if I want to get a tattoo, then I should get one while Mark is away. So the children and I have been drawing on ourselves in readiness. Casper keeps saying “LET’S GO TO THE TATTOO SHOP NOW”, calling my bluff and freaking me out. I like to think I might get one. I don’t actually want to take my ten year old along with me to get some terrible accidental prison tattoo, chosen in haste and adrenaline, do I? Or do I?
Balanced with Other Good Bits Though
- The rules have been thrown out the window and we all watch nightly 90’s rom coms. After our old, out-of-date suppers, we’ve binged on You’ve Got Mail, Mean Girls, Mean Girls 2, Clueless, and moved on to race issues with 12 Years A Slave and Rabbit Proof Fence. Next on the list are The Truman Show, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Hidden Figures. I would like to think the boys are now very well-educated in the charms of preppy outfit matching as well as having honed an acute sense of the wrongs of racial prejudice – and shall soon be woke to the perils of social media, racism at NASA and the non-animated quirk of Wes Anderson.
- Casper has turned into a lovely, kind boy. All those years of being a total pain in the ass have crumbled away. All it took was ten years and an absent dad. He seems to have risen to the challenge Mark set before he left – the old ‘Look after your mother’ chestnut. The only kids who have let the side down are Otis (swearing) and Ned (dramatic breakdowns and a lot of wailing). But mostly, mostly, we are very well indeed.
Here we are on Saturday, dressed up in our pyjamas because Carluccios was giving away free breakfasts for those in their nighttime attire:
And the Easter Bonnet parade, where Otis choked but was saved just in time by Noah:
And finally, my one time out since being on my Singleton Honeymoon, with Neradah, darling Neradah, my buddy since we were 11. She knocks me out with her cuteness (and fierceness). In this filter, we still look preteen:
Wish me luck with the whole ‘readjusting to sharing my bed and going to bed at 10:30 and cooking properly’ thing. I am going to need it.