LOVE IN A (COMMON) COLD CLIMATE
Lucy P muses on kids’ ability to be ill just when you least need it
It is a truth universally acknowledged that children will always be poorly at the most inconvenient time (the first line of Pride & Parenthood, have you read it?). Not, I’m sure, that they plan these things, and naturally it’s never nice for the poor souls to be ill. And as a mother, of course you’d rather it were you suffering than them, but still. It’s something you could put money on.
Important presentation to prepare for tomorrow? Up all night changing bed linen and pyjamas as your youngest projectile vomits all over the nursery. Stuck with your screaming toddler in a busy checkout queue in your clean work clothes before drop-off? Cue food-poisoning-related nappy explosion. Had a few too many glasses on your first night out in six months? That’ll be the time a new tooth is cutting, so you’ll be trying to live through the pain of your oh-God-why-did-I-do-it? hangover the next morning on roughly three hours’ broken sleep. Just forked out several million pounds for swimming lessons? Might as well throw the money straight in the pool as they’ll come down with a recurrent ear infection that’ll have them missing half the first term. And what is it about holiday illness?
We’d just forked out for a trip to Center Parcs with another family at February half term when the mum we were sharing with rang in a panic to tell us their youngest had just come out with chicken pox spots and her other two were probably carrying it. Three days before we were all due to head off. Needless to say, it went through all three of her kids and one of mine (though it didn’t stop any of them loving the holiday, bless them). Forty eight hours before another double-family trip to France this summer and my daughter starts puking for Britain in the night, bringing noro virus all the way to Brittany and wiping out four adults and four children one by one. Every day there was someone else dashing to the toilet. And mostly not making it. Such a relaxing week.
We travelled everywhere with plastic bags, wipes and a kitchen roll. And it’s not like you can rest up when it hits you, either. ‘Mummy, can I have a snack? I need it NOW, I’m HUNGRY!’ pleaded my four-year-old one day at the beach. ‘Hang on, sweetheart, Mummy just needs to throw up into this bin bag… OK, what was it you wanted?’ #TrueStory.
And so the crazy countdown to Christmas has begun at Fussy Towers and I could have placed bets on our household being struck down with various ailments. While we’re reviewing and writing about lots of lovely products and brand launches and creating outfit ideas and bedroom themes and planning our festive social media and catching up with interviewees, Chesty Cough enters the building and tags us all in turn. If we’re not waking ourselves up hacking away throughout the night, a small person will be. But you go in and you console and you cuddle because no matter what the hour or how little sleep you have, you’re Mummy, and they need you, and only you can make it better. And the unwritten contract of a mother’s love has invisible small print that emotionally binds you to be there when you’re most needed, wishing you could absorb their pain from them.
But there’s one thing you wish you didn’t absorb – all over your pyjamas and hair and face – and that’s the contents of those endless runny noses. Because when it comes to small children and colds, that green stuff hangs around for an eternity, so as well as being surrounded by paperwork and products and to-do-lists and still-unwritten Christmas cards, almost every surface at Fussy HQ is adorned with a screwed-up Kleenex, sitting snowball-like among the ornaments (‘Deck the halls with snotty tissues, fa la la la laaa la la la laaaa’).
Oh, the glamour of working motherdom during the poorly season. And you thought it was all fancy launches and schmoozy networking…
As discussed in 10 Things Kids Love That Parents Hate Part 1, we do a lot of things to keep our offspring happy (and give us a precious half an hour to trawl Instagram, er, clean the house and get the dinner on). Keeping the young'uns amused and busy with any engrossing activity that tears them away from their best friend The iPad for a few moments makes us feel good about parenting. Plus look at that happy little face! So why wouldn't we want to provide them with things that make them smile? Because some of those things make life for us Hell On Earth. That's why...
Sadly, the things that bring our kids joy just... don't do it for us
My first child was a boy. At my 20-week scan with baby number two, we discovered we were having a girl, and after a couple of years of boy clothes and toys - despite having some seriously lovely clothes and toys for my son - the temptation to go out and buy something unashamedly girlie was intense. But once I'd got a few pink items out of my system, I was quite determined that she wasn't going to be a floaty pastel cliche of girldom. And whenever a family member would buy her a pink outfit or shoes, despite whether I liked it or not, I almost felt embarrassed putting her in it. It seemed so obvious and blatant and, well, standard
... from holidaying with the kids. As we've just returned from a nine-day break in the South of France with our two Small Ones, I thought I'd scare, er, share with you the valuable insights I've gleaned from our little jaunt. Sharing is caring, after all, and if it allows you to feel more prepared for your own holiday en famille - or at the very least provides you with the reassurance that it's Not Just You - then my work here is done.