Ah, Friday

Ah, Fridays. They’re always good, especially when the sun is shining. It seems we have a bit of a respite from the deluge we’ve had over the last couple of weeks. The daffodils are in bloom and all sorts of spring-like signs are shooting up.

Fridays are good for many reasons, mostly because they are supposed to be our “day off”. The one day of the week that Simon takes off completely from work and we try to rest. Although, of course, with little kids it is pretty hard to get any kind of rest, even on “days off”. The work of looking after them, teaching them, training them, cleaning up after them, preparing food for them and keeping them alive is pretty much the same as any other day. It can be hard to feel like there is any sense of a break, even though with Simon home that work is halved.

In some respects I find Fridays a little bit of a let-down. Throughout the week, in the mad scramble to get to the end of the day, and the tiredness and mental strain of getting so many things done and figured out, Friday is the light at the end of the tunnel. Somehow just having the knowledge that there is a day of “nothingness”, where nothing is planned and there are no expectations and nothing to “get done”, is like a glimpse of heaven that keeps me going.

Unfortunately, though, sometimes I can have such a glowing expectation for how awesome and wonderful Friday is going to be, that when it finally comes it can be a bit of a damp squid. I am too tired to attempt any of the creative projects that I have been looking forward to all week. I try not to do any unnecessary work, other than the bare minimum of food preparation and cleaning up after ourselves. So I sit on the couch and try to read, or to relax….But just being still and looking around our lounge for five minutes without distraction makes all the things that I need to do but haven’t gotten around to during the week jump out at me. Arrrgh! The admin pile. Arrgghh! That letter I forgot to post. Arrgghh! The carpet is changing colour from olive green to grey. One needs blinkers to be able to rest in your own house.

Still, it is a discipline that is most necessary. I HAVE to stop at some point. Even though the stress and mental noise from the week is very difficult to turn off, and it usually takes me until lunchtime before I feel like I can let my thoughts wander in a productive way. If I can’t stop at some point in the week and press the reset button, it’s only a matter of time before things derail.

Every Friday Isaac and Simon sit down together and spend a couple of hours playing games on Simon’s laptop. It is a special treat that is looked forward to all week (by both boys!). Every other day Isaac asks Simon if it’s Friday. Usually this is communicated as, “Papa, let me tell you a secret…” Then he comes in close, and in a hot, breathy whisper says in his ear, “Papa, it’s Friday?…’Pluter games?”

Having a rhythm of rest every week is certainly not a new idea. Back in the old days it was highly frowned upon to break the “Sabbath” and some families even ate cold food prepared the day before so that absolutely no work was done on Sunday. (hmm….there might be something to that, actually!) For our family, Sunday is the busiest and most draining day of the week, so there’s no point in being pedantic about that sort of thing. But, we think a day of rest is a good idea, so we rest on a Friday. We do ‘pluter games and read and write and do lots of “nothing”. Sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s bliss, but it’s always essential. Speaking of which, I still have a whole lot of nothing left to do, so I’d best be off to go and do it.

reading on friday (2)

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Something’s Gotta Give

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

flood warnings

If January is blue, then February is probably dark-grey. Maybe even charcoal. And wet.

Tis the season of coughs, colds and sniffles. Braving the elements on the way to and from school has become the biggest part of our day. The kids absolutely love it – armed to the hilt with waterproofs, rubber-soled wellies and oversized umbrellas, they lean into the wind with glee. While my anxiety levels are never as low as they should be even on calm, sunny days, given the current weather conditions they are now entering the red.

What it takes to get out of the door! Judah is bundled into a cozy cocoon at the bottom half of the buggy. He usually protests strongly, a dummy is perfunctorily shoved in his mouth. Rain cover half over the buggy. Isaac and Evie do the coats, hats, scarves and gloves drill. (“Coats, hats, scarves and gloves! …Did you hear me? Coats, hats, scarves…yes, hats…and gloves, don’t forget the gloves! ….Come ON, Isaac! ….Coats, hats, scarves, gloves! ….Coat, Evie!” It’s a bit similar to Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes except with less enthusiasm)

Finally, everyone is ready. Then I realise I don’t have my shoes on. Or my coat. I turn my back for a second. I come back to the buggy and find that Isaac has thrown his gloves across the room and Evie is pulling Judah’s hat off. “What are you doing?! Open the door! Let’s go!” We are about to cross the threshold. “Mommy mommy, I need a wee!” Sigh….

There are some good things about this weather – like now, when Isaac is home after a long week of school and busyness, and we are all snuggled up inside. I can hear some wrestling going on in the lounge, as well as Judah-smooching and the gentle pops and whizzes of computer games. Our house is cosy, warm and dry, while it looks positively awful outside. The contrast of grey, wet misery with the warm, bright, happiness indoors is very pleasing.

The whole of the UK is glued to the weather channel, as we watch evidence of severe flooding and flood warnings creeping closer and closer to London. The news teams are using phrases like “weather attack” and “military deployed to help” which makes it seem like we are battling a deadly foe. Which I suppose in some cases we are. There are countless pictures of cars and homes awash, and others with sandbags piled high. Here, even though we are very close to the Thames, things seem relatively unchanged, and the worst disruption to our day is the gale-force winds that seem perfectly timed to meet the school run.

While this time of year can be quite a challenge, as extra levels of mud and wet make extra laundry loads, and the constant coughs and colds drain energy and I feel like I am constantly trying to catch up with myself, seeing the scenes of disaster on the TV and in the newspapers make me very grateful that we are all safe and we are all together. I realise that Judah is already 6 and a half months (!) and I need to try and spend less time doing things FOR him, and AROUND him, and more time simply enjoying him.

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So, this last paragraph is dedicated to Judah:

Dear Judah, with your adorable bendy ears, your chubby cheeks, chubby legs and your funny little friar-monk hairdo…. You are so sweet, so precious and so cuddly. I love your shrieks that you make for no reason at all but to hear the sound of your own voice. I love the mmmmmm sounds that you make while you eat. I love the little foot stamp that happens when you are hungry, and the little bottom-bounce you do when you are angry. I love the way you laugh at Evie, and the way you giggle when Papa smooches your tummy. All of this will only be a blurry memory in just a few months, when you are onto the next exciting stage. I will probably get busy again tomorrow with laundry and chores and lists and pureeing food and washing dishes for you….but if something’s got to give I hope it’s not this – time to simply enjoy you.

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“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”                                                                                                 – William Blake