Summer hols are nearly upon us. All of a sudden, the entire world will become infested with literally squillions of small people, and your routines will be totally fucked. This year is even better than usual, due to the absolutely fantabulous British summer weather we are having. I mean who wants to just pack sun hats and sun cream? Instead, we need to pack for sun, rain, hail, thunderstorms, frost, 8 degrees, 28 degrees, and all in 1 afternoon.
I really struggle with things like queueing with 4 small children for 5 hours just to go on a 1.25 minute long teacups ride, or waiting for 3 hours just to get down a waterslide. The result is that during the school holidays, my little darlings are kept well away from fun fairs, swimming pools, Peppa Pig World and all of the other places that turn into some kind of hell on earth during school hols (I know, I am a selfish Mummy bitch).
Today, when the three non-school going darling started their chorus of “Mummy, what are we doing today?”, I replied on a spur of the moment making up for the shitty non swimming weeks to come, that we would go to the swimming pool. Not just any swimming pool, the Rapids. Then I realised what a totally twattingly stupid idea it was, but it was too late. The little darlings had started scurrying like ants grabbing towels, fighting over pink Elsa branded Lycra, and having tugs of war with the noodles. I gave myself top Mummy marks for dressing everyone in their swimming kit, and packing clothes at home. That’s an ace timesaver. Then I thought I might just do the same myself.
So far this year, I have bought and returned 3 swimsuits. The latest purple model I had bought was bound to be right. I wrestled it on, only to discover that having 4 kids in 3 years, and breastfeeding all of them, has had an unfortunate effect. Let’s just say that the boob section was not in any way designed to cater for well used Mummy boobs. It will have to go back. I found my old costume still wet in the bag in the car from last weeks swimming session. Sadly, Lucy’s was also in there (cue 10 minutes of heartbreaking sobs about how any mother could do that etc etc). Finally, I had all 3 little darlings strapped into the car, clutching their floatations devices (after the time I forgot one) and wailing wildly.
This would never happen to the yummy mummy. She probably has a special ‘sports cupboard’ or something. She probably puts the swimming stuff through the machine as soon as they get home, and has it neatly packed away for next week by the time the kids are in bed. She would almost certainly never find herself in the changing room wrestling herself and a 4 year old into sopping wet mildew ready cold Lycra while her twins peep under the changing room door yelling things like “ooh, that lady is wearing pink pants” or “Mummy your bottom is sooooo much bigger than that lady’s. Why is your bottom soooooo big?” Actually, scrap that. I bet Waitrose/John Lewis do a swimming service. They probably post out a weekly fresh swimming kit, complete with mini shampoo and conditioners, clean swimsuits, towels, and a pound for the locker. I bet she just pops the used suits and towels into a bag and sends them back Freepost. I bet the yummy mummy has never been seen blobbing her way to reception in only a swimsuit, with a trail of screaming infants behind her, just to get change of a £5 note. No, Waitrose would never let that happen.
Anyway, we did make it into the pool. I am not going to say it was easy. Lou (4) had brought her Hello Kitty surfboard. It was made of styrofoam. Apparently, it wasn’t allowed in case of injury (the fact that it weighs no more than a fucking common or garden house fly was apparently irrelevant). Lou can’t actually swim, being only 4. I did point out to the lifeguard that perhaps it was more risky to have a non swimming child with a parent with 3 kids, and no flotation device, but apparently rules are rules. And so it was that we floated our way around the widdle infested toddler swamp for almost 2 hours. One twin is terrified of the water so clings on for grim death. I am sure the bruises will be gone within a fortnight. I braved the tall waterslide. Trying to hide my absolute terror of heights (and small steps, rusty structures….), I ushered the brood up the ladder of doom to almost ceiling height. I begged them to stay still for fear they might fall through gaps in the railings (I am sure they wouldn’t have fitted, but it’s the whole fear of heights thing). In some ways, the design is about as fucking awful as it can be. The ladder climbs up past the costa cafe. That’s right, not only do I have the responsibility of 3 little lives while all the time clinging on and fighting the impending panic attacks, I have spectators. They are level with my blobby cellulitey, postpartum body. The fact that my stomach has taken on a life of its own so great, I almost feel I need to enrol it for education classes, bothers me when I am covered in those thankfully fashionable loose long dresses. Standing next to the masses on a ladder with it all on show is bad. Very very bad. It’s then that I hear some giggling from behind me and see a group of teenage girls laughing and looking at my legs. In that moment, it dawns on me that the nagging thing I couldn’t remember which I had meant to do before I left, was to shave my legs! My mortification is complete. As I pile all 3 little darlings on my knee to whizz down the slide, I think to myself “What the fuck am I actually doing here? What was wrong with the park, or CBBees?” When we get to the bottom of the slide I breathe a sigh of relief and notice that all 3 little darlings are roaring with laughter and yelling “More!!!”. I was definitely not doing that again. I mean I am not a complete twat. The point is, though, as ridiculously fucking difficult as the whole expedition has been for me, they have loved it.
As we get changed again, we go through much the same drama. No-one will have their hair washed, and they scream at the very thought. All of the dry clothes end up on the floor, and obviously I have picked the wrong colour towels for each child which has totally ruined their day. But we do get out. Alive.
When we get to the car, they are all pleading starvation. I scrabble round the debris on the floor and manage to come up with 2 packets of mini cheddars, and 1 of Pomme Bears (obvs cue fight over who gets what.) I throw the array of plastic bags stuffed with wet clothing into the car, and thank fuck that we are on our way home. They may even fall asleep. Then I see the Yummy Mummy leaving. Her children each have a neatly labelled tote into which all of their swimming stuff fits. They have not only washed, but also dried their hair, and it shines as they swish it in the sun. She is wearing a short skirt, showing off her well toned slim postpartum body, and presenting freshly shaven legs. No-one is crying. As they clamber in to the car, she produces pots of homous, cucumber stick, carrot batons, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Our eyes meet, and we exchange a smile. My life and kids may be a shambolic chaos, and hers may be neat and tidy, well organised and probably totally organic. The point is, though, that whatever our circumstances and parenting style, all of our little darlings have enjoyed and will benefit from the experiences we have chosen to give them today. I don’t know her challenges, and she doesn’t know mine. The point is, we both did the best for our kids.
We are also now probably both drinking wine. Mine is with home-made fajitas. Hers will undoubtedly be with some Waitrose Aberdeen Angus steak en croute……blah, blah, blah! #roguetoddlers #thankfuckforwine