The baby is rocking like a crazy person and I think is it because I haven’t read to him today? It’s 6.20pm, and instead of sitting with him in the nursery I’m frantically ladling soup from the pot on the stove to the food processor.
‘Almost done baby’ I say, watching the clock.
The dog creeps by, out the pet flap and I think what’s she up to? I look outside and she’s got another bloody dummy.
‘Molly!’ I shout. ‘Molly no!’
The baby thinks this is hilarious, and toddles full speed towards the back door. I’ve got the fridge open, and as he barrels past me a tomato falls out and onto his head.
Oh shit a tomato just fell on my baby’s head I think, and wait for a wail. When it doesn’t happen I go back to the food processor because, well, what else?
I struggle not to spill soup on my new kitchen counter, and give up when I learn that yes you can put too much liquid in a food processor. Bloody shit I think. Fucking bollocks.
The rattle of the dog bowl tells me the baby’s playing where he shouldn’t be again.
‘Teddy no’ I say firmly, and scoop him up. He’s obsessed with putting things ‘in’ this week, and there’s a teething ring and a sodden woollen sock in the water bowl. I notice half a dozen clothing items pushed through the pet flap as well. Pulled from the dirty laundry pile no doubt, and confusing the dog who’s stood outside trying to get back in.
I put baby in the play pen, kicking a path through wooden cars, stacking cups, and a packet of unopened pasta (used earlier – meaning yesterday – as a drum). The cat appears from nowhere, howling for his tea. The dog thinks she’s missing out, so pushes her way inside, over the laundry, to shove him out of the way.
I note that my neatly stacked piles of dirty laundry are no longer neat or stacked. In fact I see one of my hubby’s socks is now outside, in the middle of the garden. When did she have time to do this?
‘Molly!’ I shout.
I get back to the soup, pack it up in containers and put it in the fridge. I throw the mess of a food processor in the sink, and stare blankly at the clutter around me. I still need to empty and repack the dishwasher, put the washing in the dryer, feed the pets, clear out the fridge and get the rubbish bags ready for bin day tomorrow.
Things are a little too quiet though, so I walk towards the front door. For the love of God stop eating the shoes! I think.
‘Teddy no’ I say, and scoop him up. I walk him back to the play pen and drop him in. The gate won’t close properly but I leave it and walk to the kitchen and straight to a bottle of wine. I get a wine glass, and some cheese, and pop the cork. The baby’s been sleeping really poorly, and has been in with me most nights. I figure if I drink now it won’t matter later if we co-sleep. Everyone wins.
Except the baby heard the fridge open and is sat on his knees next to the dog, moaning for food. Mind you he had tea at nursery, and he gets his bottle in half an hour. Seriously they both have the worst FOMO, it’s ridiculous.
I give baby half a bagel and think go to town buddy. He toddles off with the dog at his heels, ready to play ‘I lick, you lick, we all lick’, ‘give the dog the bagel then cry’, or ‘how much bagel can one couch take’.
I go to the cupboard and get the dog biscuits and some cat food. The dog doesn’t notice when I pour biscuits in her bowl because her brain is shouting BAGEL. The cat starts eating the dog’s food, even though I’ve emptied a packet of wet food in his bowl.
‘Ziggy!’ I shout, and tap him with my foot. He runs off at speed, and then strolls back meowing for his tea.
I look over as baby throws the last bit of bagel at the wall, and starts wailing. The dog (who I note is getting rather thick around the middle) eats it, then runs to stand up on the table with the cat food.
‘Molly no!’ I shout. She hops down, walks over to her biscuits, and stares at me.
Right I think. Dishwasher and dinner. I open the dishwasher and start to unpack it and baby toddles over to investigate.
‘Teddy no’ I say when he reaches out with grubby baby fingers, and I steer them away from the knives. He pulls off the dishwasher smelly thing and I snatch it before he gets it in his mouth. He throws his head back and his little bum hits the floor and he kicks and cries and I think terrible two’s my arse.
While he’s distracted I finish unpacking the dishwasher and repack, very quickly, using the dog to clean off the scraps.
Baby has wandered off and is hitting the pasta packet with a piece of Duplo. I think imagine if it splits and it does and there’s pasta everywhere. I weigh up the risk of baby choking, and leave him to play for a minute before thinking shit, and picking him up just in case. He cries as I pry pasta from both fists, and we go to the kitchen to make his bottle.
I attempt to put baby down but he clings to my chest and tries to climb up my body. I scoop powder and mix water one handed, and wonder whether to give him some Calpol because teething/growing pains/the flu/he’ll go to sleep easier. But other than general cranky head tossing (I nearly drop him) and moaning (I think shut up but say ‘you’re a tired little duck aren’t you’) he seems fine.
I finish making the bottle and rinse an old dummy under the hot water tap. The doorbell rings and the dog launches herself down the hallway barking. I put the bottle and dummy on the kitchen counter and think why is someone at my door?
Baby and I walk to the door and I step on pasta and think for fuck’s sake.
‘Molly no!’ I shout and push her out of the way. There’s a grinning man selling subscriptions to a posh recipe-box food delivery service.
I think are you kidding me.
I say ‘no thank you’ and close the door in his face, while the dogs tries to push through my legs.
I switch the baby to my other arm and we walk to the kitchen. I gulp down the rest of the wine, grab the bottle, dummy, and my mobile phone, and we head upstairs.
The nursery is a dump. I kick a few books and a damp towel out of the way to get to the cot, and sit the bottle, dummy and phone down on a set of drawers. I lock the baby gate and set baby down. I get his bed ready. Close the curtains. Grab some PJ’s and an overnight nappy. And stop him just as he reaches a pile of dirty reusable nappies stacked neatly by the nappy bin.
Tomorrow I think. There’s always tomorrow to get elbow deep in shit.
I pick up baby and walk to the bathroom. Set him down, standing against the tub. I reach in to bat stacking cups and colourful plastic ducks out of the way so I can press the plug closed and turn the water on. Baby takes three steps to the toilet roll and pulls a ream of paper onto the floor. I move him back to the bath and he grabs for the body wash and it knocks to the floor, along with a bottle of shampoo and conditioner. While I pick up the fallen bottles he picks up his clean nappy and drops it in the bath.
‘Teddy!’ I moan, and he chuckles. Are you fucking serious mate?
I grab the wet nappy from the bath and chuck it in the bin. I scoop baby up and we walk to the nursery to get another clean nappy. On the way back I wriggle his trousers off while he arches his back and whines. He throws back his head when I try to stand him up so I blow a raspberry under his chin until he laughs.
‘Arm out, arm out’ I say. ‘Over your head.’
Baby is happy now that he’s almost naked. I’m pretty sure he’s only got a wet nappy but I take it off slowly just in case. I’ve been caught before.
I lift him up and into the bath. ‘Nudie time!’ I say, and plonk him on his bottom. I drag over a footstool and sit down with my chin resting on my arms, on the edge of the bath. Until he stands up and smacks me in the face with a pink duck.
‘Sit down Teddy’ I say, and he stands another dozen times, laughing and laughing when I scold him.
I let him play a while and then give him a wash. I pick him up and lay him on a towel on the bathmat and he screams and kicks.
‘Hush baby’ I say, and dress him as quickly as I can.
We go back to the nursery and I lay baby in the cot. I hand him the bottle and tidy the room while he drinks. When he’s finished I hand him the dummy, lay him on his side and sit down while I wait to be sure he’s asleep.
I hear the cat come through the pet flap downstairs and he starts howling again – the ‘where are you?’ meow – and I want to throttle him. YOU KNOW WHERE I AM! I think. Bloody cat.
I glance at baby who’s stirring a little but still asleep. He looks very sweet when he’s sleeping, and I reach down to tuck a curl behind his ear. He opens his eyes and I think SHIT. I put his lovey in his hand, say ‘shh’, and hope for the best.
He pulls it over his head and settles.
Angling the light from my mobile phone screen away from the cot I Google: Should a 14 month old have a night time bottle? When should I start potty training? How much food should my toddler be eating? Teeth brushing and toddlers. Are bagels okay for babies? How to stop your dog jumping on visitors. Is pasta a choking hazard?
I browse Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Hotmail and Buzzfeed.
I watch a muted video of the baby hugging the dog until my heart explodes.
I think: I need to get the rubbish sorted. I need to iron my work clothes for tomorrow. I need to wash my hair. I need to pack baby’s nursery bag. I need to pay the nursery. Shit, have I paid the nursery this week? I need to set up a nursery direct debit. I need to fold the clothes sitting in the dryer so I can put another load in. I need to sweep the kitchen floor. I REALLY need to sweep the kitchen floor. I need to go grocery shopping. I need to sort out dinner SHIT. Dinner.
I hear a key in the lock and the dog starts racing through the house like a mad thing. I think Molly no! My husband’s shoes echo on the wooden floor and I think take your bloody shoes off!
The baby cries out and I find his dummy and put it back in his mouth. I sit really, really still and he rolls over to his tummy and goes back to sleep.
I stand very slowly and wait. Walk very slowly to the door and wait. The dog barks and I think I’m going to throttle her too, but baby is still sleeping. I open the door quickly and smoothly. Pull the baby gate in towards me so it doesn’t creak. Bring the door back to mostly-closed and wait. Silence, and I think thank fuck.
I walk downstairs and past husband to the bottle of wine. Pour myself another glass.
‘Hey babe’ he says.
He’s eaten the rest of the cheese.
‘Hi honey’ I say.
‘What happened here?’ he says and gestures in the general vicinity of everything.
I pretend I don’t hear him and sweep past with my wine. Sit down on the couch and set it to recline. I lean back and rest my head on the cat, who insists on sitting there each night.
Hubby sits down next to me and turns the TV on.
‘What’s for dinner?’ he says.
The baby cries.