I'd been offered FREE babysitting for a WHOLE night by a VERY GOOD friend which only happens ONCE IN A BLUE MOON (sorry about the capitals, but it is more than warranted on this occasion, I think you'll agree).
And not only that, but I'd totally forgotten about this arrangement until the NIGHT BEFORE (ok, I'll stop now). So imagine my glee when the text arrived from the aforementioned very good friend / guardian angel: 'What time are you bringing the boys tomorrow? I want to take them to the coast.'
The coast? She could take them to the bloody moon for all I cared if it meant I got a whole day and night of lovely quality time and lots and lots of silence in my house. I mean, the silence would be potent. Hell, it would probably be so potent I could bottle it and sell it and make the fortune I've been meaning to make since I lost my career-building capabilities on account of being a full-time mum / slave / nurse / confidante / fixer of Batman toys.
This was good, good, news. So, I set about packing and the Tots took particular delight in filling a couple of rucksacks with 'special' toys to take with them (I'm not sure Woody from Toy Story's decapitated head would be welcome in my friend's household but hey-ho). The next morning we arrived gleefully at my friend's house and the Tots immediately ran off to play / ransack her home. Not before a few snot-laced kisses had been administered to Mummy though, who was off to well and truly paint the town red.
But first there was a fruit scone waiting for me at a local coffee house / gift shop called Bayberry Hollow. It's a place I'd been meaning to go to for weeks but on account of its intricate display of beautiful and breakable objects, I'd been reluctant to drag two unappreciative Tots inside. And as this was MY DAY (sorry, I just can't help myself), I would eat as many scones as humanly possible and peruse beautiful, handcrafted items at an achingly slow, leisurely pace.
|Get your laughing gear round that|
And I did this with my Mam who (I think) was equally happy to be meeting me somewhere that didn't involve ball pools or soft play apparatus of any kind. Oh how we chatted without interruption! Oh how we did not have to share our scones! Oh how toilet trips belonged only to us! This, I was sure, was the warm-up for a very exciting day.
Then hubby rang me from work to explain, joyously, that he had finished his shift. Now I was sure the gods of babysitting were smiling down on me. The hubby never, ever finishes work before 11pm on a Saturday. But not today baby! Today was ours!
So what did we do? We met at the Metro Centre! Of course we did. Everybody who is familiar with the vastness of the North East's iconic shopping centre will know that it has magical, magnetic powers which force anybody with a millisecond of spare time to gravitate towards it in a zombie-like, credit-card-wielding sort of way. And that was us. In TK Maxx we found each other next to the men's Autumn Collection. I think we fell in love all over again.
|Can you feel the gravitational pull?|
But it was only a matter of minutes before we found ourselves browsing the toy aisles. What new madness was this? Only hours away from the Tots and I find myself among superhero Busy Books and plush Postman Pats? Erm, not today people.
So we glided out and made our way to the Metro Centre food court.
Perhaps we could grab a spontaneous bite to eat in a non-family-oriented-type place. Who cares if Pizza Express do Fruit Shoots? We laugh in the face of your Fruit Shoots. Give us cocktails, or beer, or wine! We could even go to the cinema to see ANYTHING (!) we wanted. We checked the listings. Because we could.
Disappointingly, there was buggar-all on offer at the cinema. I did not want to pay almost £15 to see a bag of tripe. But we were not deterred for we would dine like tycoons instead. Bring on the caviar!
But then we suddenly (and annoyingly) recalled the internet-banking session we'd had two days before and (even more annoyingly) recalled the sorry state of our overdraft. Bloody 24 hour internet banking. I'd prefer to live in ignorance of my rising debt thank you very much.
That hardly mattered though. We would do something free and wonderful instead. We'd escape the Metro Centre and go for a walk. In the woods. Where there were trees and birdsong and fresh air. Yes. We'd ignore our growling tummies and embrace nature instead. How romantic!
However, upon returning to the car, I realised my stupid little ballet-type shoes were hardly forest-trekking attire and the hubby pointed out that he couldn't get his work trousers dirty as he would need to wear them again the next day (yes, we have an inadequate laundry system). So we just got in the car and drove for a bit.
As we drove along on this glorious, glorious day of quality time for us and only us, it became increasingly obvious that we did not have a bloody clue what to do when faced with a day without our children. There were no noses to wipe. No demands to be met. We were crap at this.
And what do you do when you're suspicious that your life may be sadder than sad? You go to the pub. Wetherspoons to be exact. And you order a big pint of beer and a big plate of food (the cheapness of it all!) and you bloody well get over it.
|Sorts your life out|
Back at home we made a pact that absolutely no housework of any kind would be done and settled ourselves in front of the telly with a blanket for a Lovefilm-athon. Get in. This was going to be good. I selected 'Bridesmaids' before the hubby could make a peep of protest and felt particularly smug when he seemed to enjoy it really quite a lot. Hah! Girl power!
Unfortunately I fell asleep during the next film and the hubby had to carry me to bed in a way that did not, sadly, resemble any kind of romantic scene. From what he told me, he may as well have been disposing of a body. The sleep was deep and there was drool. Enough said.
The next morning I woke at 7.30am. Bloody typical. I tried to go back to sleep, I really did, but my body clock was having none of it. So, in a determined, last-ditch attempt to relax before the Tots burst back into the domain, I made a cuppa and flicked on Lovefilm. And there it was. The film I had been wanting to watch for months but never had because the hubby refused to watch it on account of it being listed under 'Musicals' . . .
The dark thriller starring Natalie Portman. Not a musical at all. But about a ballerina who goes a bit mental in her aspirations to perform as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. Did it even occur to me that this might not be your traditional Sunday morning viewing? Astoundingly, it did not.
Multiple personalities, suicide attempts, self-harming, haunting melodies, hallucinations, obscure body parts, tragic love affairs. By the end of it I was a gibbering wreck. My heart was on the floor.
|Don't go it alone|
So when Big Tot crashed through the front door I nearly jumped out of my skin. He dashed towards me and I pulled him in like my life depended on it. 'Mummy, Mummy, I've got a Darth Vader now and he's a baddy and he's my best new friend and I missed you but I had a good time and I ate toast.'
Little Tot flung his warm little body at me and smeared me in his signature snot whilst jabbering away in toddler-speak. Oh this was wonderful! My favourite two little people in the world were back and filling the house with laughter and demands and mess and stories. Woo hoo!
And just like that, everything was as it should be.
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