Life in our noisy, messy, more than a little chaotic home is all you have ever known, boys. Crates of toy cars and trains, a pretend kitchen and play food; Duplo, Lego and books all over the floor. The constant hum of the washing machine. The ‘have you seen my keys?’ and ‘I can’t find my Oyster card’; ‘have you done that permission slip?’, ‘don’t forget to change his reading book’, and ‘I can’t come right now, sweetheart, I’m trying to make the tea’. The ‘please get off him’ and ‘I’ve asked you before not to climb on the piano’ and ‘could you please just let go of mummy’s skirt’.
I am always tired boys, you know that. I tell you I’m tired and I look tired. In the mornings you watch me as I finish my coffee and then make myself a cup of tea. This is the mummy you know and this is the life you know.
You’ve been to weddings; you have a broad idea of what they are, if not of what they actually mean. But you’ve never given much thought to mummy and daddy’s wedding; mainly because it is difficult for you littlest boys to get your heads around anything that happened before you were born.
This week though, it was mummy and daddy’s anniversary and so, because you love photos, mummy thought you might have fun looking at some of ours. And you did have fun, but you were thoroughly confused; and I’m not surprised. Firstly, what’s with these photobooks, with all the photos beautifully arranged? Mummy rarely even gets photos printed these days, let alone gets around to arranging them in a book like this. All of this clearly happened a long time ago. And these two in their fancy dress…..well they sort of look like mummy and daddy, but not the mummy and daddy that you know. Where is the mess, where is the chaos? What is mummy doing in this picture, sitting with her friends with a glass of something sparkly while a lady does her hair? Why are all these people with mummy while she is getting ready? Why does everyone look so young and fabulous and fresh-faced? Why isn’t mummy carrying a huge bag stuffed with books, crayons, favourite teddies, snacks and water bottles? And what’s happening here…….why are mummy and daddy wandering around in front of a stately home? Where is mummy’s coffee? Why is mummy pretending to be a ballerina? And why are some of the other ladies wearing funny things on their heads?
At various points in your life, people like to tell you to enjoy every moment; and on my wedding day I really did. I loved the warm feeling despite the chill outside, I loved the music and the dancing, seeing what everyone was wearing and having all those brilliant people in the same room to celebrate the start of our married life.
But boys, a wedding day is not real life, and these photos bear very little resemblance to our life now. Firstly, mummy’s hair has been a disaster since that day in 2008. We no longer look serene or fresh-faced; and on the occasion that we visit a stately home, we are collecting leaves, or playing hide and seek; or in the adventure playground helping you up a scramble net. We are not ambling along holding flowers and having photos taken. Mummy and daddy no longer spend whole mornings getting themselves ready surrounded by family and friends. We’re not always chinking glasses and listening to people saying lovely things about us and wishing us well. Mummy looks a mess most of the time and drinks too much coffee. Daddy needs to polish his shoes and invest in some new trousers. Sometimes (or maybe most of the time), I am not as good at this whole thing as I probably thought I would be on that day in October 2008. Sometimes we squabble, sometimes we shout. Frequently it is over trivialities; and always, we know that there is a better way to resolve it. But we’re tired and over-familiar, and we take our irritations out on each other because sometimes, that is what tired and over-familiar people do. Even when they know they shouldn’t.
It isn’t easy, boys, to go from looking after yourselves to being responsible for a whole family unit. For keeping that unit together and on course. Family life is messy and complicated; more than I ever realised. But out of that shiny, happy, wonderful day 8 years ago, this is the life we have built. No, it isn’t as pretty as those photos, but it is real; and I love it. Although I would love my wedding hair back again, just for a day.