Two’s company, three’s insane

It’s 2006.
After a busy morning picking Weetbix out of the carpet, holding the shaky feet of a toddler trying to climb a small fort and rock-a-byeing a bear on repeat, Master One is finally down for his afternoon nap.
I sit down with a toasted sandwich and a cup of tea and start the fifth season of the West Wing. He’ll be down at least two hours and nobody deserves the break more than me.
I give myself a pat on the back.

Fast-forward to 2013.
It goes pretty much the same, except this time it’s Lil Fatty.
And Breaking Bad.
The now-Master Seven is at school so I have to cap Lil Fatty’s sleep at two hours to go and pick him up.
I get back home with my two boys and take a coffee break.
Nobody deserves it more than me.
I give myself a pat on the back.

Fast-forward to 2015.
My morning is spent being dragged around by one child, while trying not to drop another.
That’s after I’ve taken the third to school.
I pick Weetbix out of the carpet, wipe pureed fruit off the lino and scrub poo off the couch.
I hold the shaky feet of a toddler trying to get on to the trampoline while a baby tries desperately to sleep in my arms.
Baby sucks furiously on my boob while I hold the potty under the bum of toddler.
I bath baby and make my bed, only to have toddler wee on baby – on my bed.
Toddler rolls out of towel while I try to put a nappy on baby.
Baby rolls out of nappy while I try to re wrap blue-lipped toddler.
I do the Hot Potato, mashing potato.
Mashed Banana, peeling bananas.
And desperately eat what’s left of their Cold Spaghetti for lunch.
Before a visitor arrives, I clean the toilet.
Then find a half-filled potty under the coffee table after they’ve left.
I put one child down for a nap only to hear the other wake up.
Right on cue.
Every day.
I was standing at the back door talking to my 70-year-old neighbour recently.
With Fairy Floss dribbling down my arm and Lil Fatty holding my free hand (and, with his free hand, his doodle), I moaned as I described the giant leap from two to three children.
But she already knew.
She had three herself.
“And I had to have the house clean, dinner cooked, and the kids bathed and ready for bed by the time my husband came home.”
That’s how it was done in her day.
I get one out of three.
Learner Dad invariably comes home to a hot dinner.
He also comes home to wet towels on the floor.
To kids that smell like poo, or wee, or spew, or all three.
To a bench strewn with carrot peel, blobs of ice-cream, stripped corn cobs.
His wife may or may not have washed her hair that day.
Whichever the case, it’s in a ‘mun’ (mum-bun).
And she’s most certainly wearing the same track pants her baby vomited on three days ago.
It’s not that mums of today are less capable than our predecessors.
It’s that the emphasis has been tipped from ‘good wife’ to ‘good mother’.
Instead of ironing hubby’s shirts, we watch our kids play on the trampoline.
We fuss over cupcakes rather than rump steaks.
And we make Lego cities that render vacuuming simply impossible.
If our husbands dare complain, they are quickly put in their place.
Which, in Learner Dad’s case, is eating his rapidly cooling dinner while balancing one child on his lap and reading a story between mouthfuls to another.
While mummy sits down to anything not on ABC4Kids.
And gives herself a well-deserved pat on the back.

Coming clean on Learner Dad

“It’s like nobody even lives here,” I breathed, looking around the living room.
It was two years ago and I was visiting Learner Dad’s house for the first time.
And what a fantastic surprise!
The bed was made impeccably, the tables dusted clean, and the kitchen and bathroom were spotless.
He seemed to be the cleanest man I’d ever met.
It didn’t change when we moved in together.
“Watch your feet,” he’d say, as he vacuumed around them, before loading the dishwasher.
I’d happily soap my pregnant belly in the sparkling shower, secure in the knowledge I’d found THE perfect man.
Sure, he didn’t change the sheets very often and, besides sensational roasts, his cooking only extended to Honey Mustard Chicken Tonight.
But I loved washing and cooking, so we made the perfect team.
Then something happened.
Two things actually.
I went on maternity leave.
And Learner Dad gave up housework.
“Oh yes, they give all that up when you have a baby,” a married friend told me recently over dinner.
“I think, because you’re home all day, they just let it go to you.”
But when Learner Dad recently asked if there was anything he could do to help, I took him up on his offer.
“I’ve cleaned every room but the bathroom,” I replied (I HATE cleaning the bathroom).
“Right,” he said. “Leave that to me to do on my day off.”
His day off came and went.
“I’ve done everything but the shower basin in the bathroom,” I said, as his next day off approached.
“No worries, I’ll take care of it,” he said.
But that day came and went too.
To be fair, Learner Dad’s free time isn’t spent playing golf.
He doesn’t go out to the pub or on a day-long bike ride.
No, he spends almost all of his spare time with his children.
He might not clean the bathroom but he gives Li’l Fatty baths.
He doesn’t vacuum the carpet but he rolls around on it with Master Seven.
And he’s always happy to cook dinner if it can be thrown on a barbecue.
And then clean up afterwards.
To be honest, I have plenty of time for housework.
I just don’t like it very much.
My mother once told me her biggest regret was worrying about it too much.
That you don’t end up remembering all the dust on the coffee table.
What you do remember is the little strolls you took around the garden with your babies.
The first time he saw a butterfly, or sat on a swing.
I’m sure the same applies for Learner Dad.
But, when my maternity leave is up, perhaps then it’ll be time to clean up his act.