‘Alright love, good day at work? You need to have a word with the boy – he’s been telling the neighbours’ children about human cremation again. Don’t go in the bathroom, I’m in the process of discovering who has left a rogue poo in the toilet. Dinner will be late although I’m not very hungry, Binner got me again.’
This is how we started our evening today. That poor man. I can’t help but think this wasn’t exactly what he signed up for all those years ago. When we made those vows in 2006, the rosy future we had mapped out didn’t involve quite so much cleaning up vomit and re-homing the sofa cushions to their rightful place from the floor. We never used to inspect a stain on our clothes and sniff it and see if it scratches off with a fingernail before accepting defeat and getting changed. Our day to day conversations are punctuated with commands for our children to ‘Don’t eat that!’ ‘Put that down.’ ‘Stop licking the table!’ This is a daily occurrence in our house; not entirely unwelcome, but I would say he’s resigned to the fact that he may walk into a house full of hysteria, a war zone or an eerily silent ‘don’t you dare move, breathe, whisper; everyone is asleep!’ Don’t get me wrong, it’s made him versatile. So much so, I can’t remember a time when my husband actually looked genuinely surprised. I would love to go back in time and talk to my 2007 husband as we decided to start a family. He thought having children wouldn’t change us. He thought we would never take each other for granted or let the children dictate our life. They would just fit around us. Wouldn’t they?
We have been married a short while. We have loved this time and revelled in our new status as Mr and Mrs. We’ve decided, the time is right, we’re getting ready for that precious baby of ours that will complete us.
Plot spoiler: he doesn’t. We love him so much, he opens our eyes to the world in a way we didn’t think possible and we think he deserves so much more than just you and me can offer. Enter; two little sisters who we love with just the same ferocity, they are as mad as you can imagine three combinations of our genes could be, they will test you to your absolute limit whilst giving you such pride that you feel you can lift the ceiling off the world. But there will be things you can’t prepare for yet.
There will be so many. Happy tears, angry tears, I’ve-leaked-milk-through-my-third-top-today tears. You need to remember: you are not always responsible for these tears. They will be your bedfellow for the rest of our marriage, because when we embark on the journey of parenthood, those three children will open a floodgate that will never again close. Quite simply: when those children cut, I bleed. My advice would be, a hug, get the kettle on (or the wine out) and a simple ‘What can I do?’ You are my rock, but you don’t have to have the answer every time.
2. Blood, gore and indignity
You have never had to discuss my period with me. Previous to 2007 when we began trying for a family, I was 100% certain I would never, ever discuss my period with you in earshot. You’re going to have to learn how these things ‘work’ you’re going to have to learn how to sit in a doctor’s office and discuss cervical mucus without laughing. Actually, scratch that, you will never manage to do that, so it may be best to work on something else. In childbirth, you will have to be my voice, you will have to stay calm and pretend whatever happens to be shooting out of me at 100mph is not disgusting, but the most beautiful miracle you have ever seen. Afterwards you will have to hear about blood loss, discuss stitches at great length. You will learn which pads are the most effective, which brand of breast pads are the least irritating. All of this you will do without complaint (most of the time).
3. Tuning out
When you are surrounded by three children it is essential to learn the art of blocking out. The whining is incessant, the noise sometimes indescribable. The questions repetitive, mundane and constant. My skills in ‘Mmm hmm’ ‘Oh really?’ ‘That’s interesting’ and ‘Uh huh’ are at an all-time high. I can tune anyone out at any time if I need to focus on something. Unfortunately, that applies to you too, my love. I’m sorry about that I may miss some really key information through my ability to tune out, I can’t imagine asking after an acquaintance’s mother after she had been dead for 6 months, nope. Doesn’t sound like me, at all.
4. We are forever bound together
That’s not a threat, by the way. But it’s true, there’s no way you can ever be rid of me now. Even if you decide (and I hope you never will) that you’ve had enough and scarper (if you do I bet it’s me leaving the microwave open and the milk out again) I know with absolute certainty that you would never ever be without our three children. Trouble is love, they look like me, act like me, repeat me at every given opportunity and even if you manage to find a much nicer wife (highly likely) who is less Northern and outspoken, every other weekend three versions of that previous wife will be coming to stay. And they will be even less restrained than I am.
Before we had children, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe we had a snack here and there. Nothing major. On the arrival of our children you will discover a new meal, between lunch and dinner. The introduction of Binner. Binner is the meal that you really don’t want, the meal you definitely don’t need, but the meal you cannot resist. So named Binner because it’s ‘Before Dinner’ and it really should be in the ‘Bin’ (trash). It’s the remnants of the children’s dinner, the half-eaten (often untouched) parts of their meal that somehow appear as tempting as a gourmet feast. Often, I wonder how I’ve managed to hang onto an extra half a stone per child from my pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t know why I do this; it’s quite obviously Binner.
If you can accept those 5 things, you will be fine, you will even be good. Some days you will be utterly amazing. I hope I will too.
With much love, from the firing line,
Your Wife x