Updated: Mar 23
A year ago, I wrote in The Times about becoming my mother: bemoaning her menu-planning; a passion for extinguishing lights; pre-suds dish-soaking. All clashed with my laissez faire approach to parenthood and housekeeping.
“Why,” I would question, “must plates receive a pre-wash?!”
One whole year of home-schooling, home-working, home-cooking and a raft of new ‘home rules’ has arrived.
“For most exhausted mums, their idea of ‘working out’ is a good, energetic lie-down” comedienne Kathy Lette dryly noted.
Spot on La Lette!
Congratulations everyone who has taken up a new sport/language/hobby (delete as appropriate). Good for you.
Not here. We’ve battled-on, minus additional skills being added to the family portfolio, with only the adoption of mum’s prudent fiscal policies.
Radio Two DJ, Ken Bruce, operates a daily music competition, Pop Master, with losers receiving a ‘One Year Out’ tee-shirt.
Never mind being ‘out’, I want a ‘One Year IN’ piece of sartorial elegance; every home-carer should be awarded a badge of honour to mark this occasion.
Any short-cuts to oil the wheels of daily domestic drudgery must be enlisted.
One of the joys of minimalist lighting means, I’ve discovered, less carpet to cross when bedtime descends. Solitary reading globes - issuing eery glows, interrogation-esque qualities - do, it transpires, take a millisecond of important sleep-time to extinguish.
Instilling ‘foodie forethought’ has also become triumphant in the “fed up with running a home” arsenal. Tapping pencil to teeth, I now mentally glide around Aldi’s aisles, creating comprehensive lists that sate family hunger while avoiding excess. Occasionally, I compartmentalise virtual purchases into ‘types’ (fridge, veg, freezer, etc) but only when demands of the day haven’t been too onerous.
But one mum-habit remains steadfastly ignored; making the dishwasher redundant. ‘Diana’ is a beloved part of our family, cared for like a much-valued pet – we know ‘her’ worth.
But here’s the clincher. On rare occasions, ‘Diana’ has failed us, delivering cast-iron pans sporting super-glued particles. My rebuke has been stern and, I swear (but not in front of the kids, obviously), the next cycle is delivered with nuanced contempt from beneath her metallic shroud.
After several run-ins, ‘Diana’ and I were not on good terms; I found myself surreptitiously surfing Bosch and Miele websites when no-one was looking.
“Why don’t you soak first?” suggested mum.
Ground-down by a year of domestic overload, resistance was low. Normally railing against messy, time-consuming traits, usually, I’d have given lip-service only.
But lockdown plays strange tricks with the mind. Now we’re a pre-plunging household, with legions of sparkling crockery.
“I told you,” said mum.
“About time,” said ‘Diana’.
“You win,” said I!