It is rare now that I write at the weekends, for there simply isn’t time, but today has been a long, lazy day and my fingers are itching to type. Suddenly I am alert, and blinking back into life like a mole emerging from a long dark tunnel. Awake and astonished that there is still a life to be had here in my lovely interwebs. Able to sit upright without feeling as though sleep could take me at any moment. I am so much better than I was.
It is late Saturday afternoon and the oldest child is asleep on the sofa for no reason other than he can be and the youngest has been forced out of the chair he has slumped in all day long, battling who knows what on his Playstation, and sent upstairs to take a shower and become human enough to join us for a family movie night. I will have Camembert and celery and for the the troops there will be burgers on brioche and mustard mayonnaise, blue cheese and beef tomatoes. I will fill bowls with popcorn and pour out the fizzy drinks that appall me, but are permitted occasionally by he who isn’t quite the frowny parent that I am.
And then the fun will begin. The ordeal that is choosing a film we all agree on. One that Ste can tolerate and Finley won’t talk his way through. One that isn’t too boyish for me or too scary for Stevie. One, please Universe, that none of us have seen. In a life where we are blessed with not only Sky TV, but also have Netflix and Amazon Prime, one wouldn’t imagine it would be too tall an order. But, oh but it is. It is in fact a special kind of hell that all too often ends with either me or Finley flouncing out of the room, or Ste or Stevie, who are not the flouncing kind, simply sulking their way through the entire evening. Life is more Shameless than it is Brady Bunch. (Hashtag true story).
For yes, flouncing is my forte and I do it with aplomb. I think I have in fact become less tolerant than I used to be. More likely to throw a mini tantrum that makes the whole house laugh. More desperate to prove to myself, that in a house full of masculine energy, me and my floral covered flounces matter too. Oh yes. Middle aged ladies warn those hot on their heels about hot flushes and other ugly side-effects of being on the wrong side of forty-six, but no-one says a word about your rapid transformation into she who those not party to her hormonal secret, consider a nowty old crone. With chin hair and a mark on her face, her doctor patted and declared “Nothing to worry about: just the start of an old-lady mole”. An old lady mole, I ask you! No-one tells you that one day you will be sweet as apple pie and the next you will be having a hissy fit for no reason other than you have been accused of buying ‘scabby tangerines’…
Now wine o’clock has come early, and a glass of Malbec has appeared at my side. There is a blue bottle threatening his own life by buzzing around my head and the boys are finally fully awake and prowling around the kitchen like salivating dogs. There is still laundry fluttering on the line for it is as hot as it was at midday and in a moment I will pop my feet into cherry-red gardening clogs and go out and rub my face in its lavender warmth before I fold it into a tin basket, while Ste pulls up the last of the weeds growing under the front window, Stevie, who is rapidly becoming the family chef, gets the burgers started, and Finley directs us all from high upon his imaginary throne in the conservatory.
All is well, and all is well and all shall be well. Perhaps I will sneak away to bed and leave them to it. Maybe I will take my book and my wine and my cheese up to the sanctuary of my bedroom and escape the hurly burly of family life, rub peppermint oil into my neck to cool down, light fairy lights and fling the windows wide open so that all the moths come in and join me. Or perhaps I will do as I am bid: for though as a collective of grown and not quite grown men they rib me tirelessly, they want me sat amongst them. They want me there so that I will light the candles and they can ignore my film suggestions, and skit me when I jump at the scarier moments of the horror film they are bound to choose. They want us all to be together for a while at a time in our family life when age and separate interests so often keep us apart within the same four walls. How quickly it happens. How precious our weekends are together.
And so it will be. Finley will pull the armchair into the middle of the room and Stevie will take off the headphones I am seriously considering having surgically removed. The curtains will be drawn and the blind pulled, the coffee table filled with little treats, and my legs pulled on to Ste’s lap as we settle down to watch something I can almost be sure will be utterly atrocious.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.