I have an hour.
Make that I had an hour: that was Thursday, and I confess I sacrificed the blog post to a few hundred words of fiction. I am trying – so incrementally it’s ridiculous– to start drafting the short story I’ve been thinking about for some time, and I used my hour to chip away at that. I haven’t even managed to read over those few paragraphs yet, but I am confident they won’t alter the course of my career. I just can’t get any traction on any writing at all. Llew’s getting home from work at about 8 o’clock most nights, so it’s a pretty long day with the little man. By the time Llew walked in the door at 8:15 Friday night, I was rigid with tension.
Baby J – and I think we’ll start referring to him as Master J, don’t you, because he’s not ‘the baby,’ he’s himself – had his 4 month vaccinations in the morning, and I could’ve really used a hand at the tail-end of the day. I hadn’t kept any of this a secret, so to be honest I was pretty livid we came in such a poor second to Llew’s work drinks (admittedly an important gathering in this instance for reasons I won’t go into here, but he still could have excused himself early and didn’t). I was exhausted. I had spent the entire day comforting Master J after his shots. When he wasn’t feeding or sleeping, he only wanted to be held upright and walked. I’ve never been more grateful for the front-pack, which took over support duties once my wrists packed it in. And boy, did my wrists pack it in.
(Have I told you what’s happened to my wrists? It’s de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and it’s incredibly painful, so much so that at its worst I’ve been mortally afraid of dropping Master J. I’ve been wearing braces on both hands for a couple of months – around the clock – and seeing a sports physio for a number of weeks, but now both my doctor and I think it’s specialist/cortisone injection time. After all, as a friend pointed out to me only this morning, as a writer I need my wrists even more than most. And as a mother, the full use of my wrists is indispensable. Hit me.)
The day was a dog from the beginning. Llew committed the cardinal sin of waking me as he jauntily popped in and out of our room dressing for a run. He was in great spirits. He was clearly suppressing the urge to whistle. He’d had a flash of brilliance, you see: apparently 5.45 am is the perfect time for him to go and exercise. So off he danced, while I lay awake fuming. I soon gave up, got up, and got in the shower. Llew came home sweaty and happy, and changed again for a swim.
“IT’S ALL BEER AND SKITTLES FOR YOU, ISN’T IT???” I screamed from behind the shower curtain, just as the front door closed.
Llew’s mood wasn’t quite as buoyant by the time he returned. Some arsehole had badged our car in the night. We have an old Mercedes, it cost about three grand so is nothing flash, but it still sucks now it’s been vandalised. What’s worse is that as a new driver, I used the Mercedes star on the bonnet of the car as a spatial marker, and I’m afraid I’ll be lost without it. But it’s gone now, ripped off by some drunken tool.
Anyway, Llew left for work and I fed Master J. Then I popped him in the pram. I may as well tell you we’re having severe issues with vehicular transport in general. First it was the car. Now he’s also taken to screaming nonstop every time I put him in the pram. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve broken into a run to get him home as quickly as possible. Aside from this dash of desperation, I can’t get any exercise in at the moment, because I can’t even take him for that perky brisk walk you see all the other mothers enjoying. Walking has become a totally fraught experience with Master J, so I’ve had to largely abandon it, and any time he is momentarily content in the pram, I spend the whole time poised for his always-imminent combustion. I’ve changed the seat, I’ve opened it up, I’ve dangled things, and I’ve altered his position… all to no avail. On and on he screams and flails. He loves being outside, he loves seeing what he can see, see, see, he loves trees and people, but he seems not to love being seated in such a way that he can’t see me. And I need him to be in the pram sometimes, just as sometimes I need him to be in the car. But I tell you what, all this screaming is a major disincentive to put him in either. It’s no fun at all.
I was sweating and frazzled by the time we turned up at the doctor’s, the first appointment of the day. She wasn’t there. Master J arched and twisted unhappily until he was emancipated. My wrists howled their own protest. Master J grabbed a fistful of my hair.
Eventually Dr J arrived and ushered us in. Master J decided to turn on a full display.
“Is he hungry?” Dr J wanted to know.
I wanted to shout, “NO, HE ISN’T BLOODY HUNGRY, HE’S TIRED BECAUSE HE HASN’T STOPPED CRYING SINCE WE LEFT THE HOUSE,” but I managed to simply state all this in a calm voice that didn’t betray my inner turmoil, rhythmically patting his bottom all the while. Baby J fell asleep on cue, and I felt wildly vindicated.
“SEE?” I wanted to scream. “DO YOU BELIEVE ME NOW?”
Doctor J arched an eyebrow at my sleeping baby. Ah yes. Needles. Needless to say the nap didn’t last.