It’s the best and the worst. A new year. A chance to do new things and improve on the previous year. That’s certainly true. But first I had to get through the morning after last year.
With three children under eight, the morning after begins too early. It’s 7:30 a.m. and the two girls have migrated to our bed. I felt the kicks at 4:30 from the first arrival and at 5:30 I helped lift the youngest into bed next to me. All this after going to bed at 2:00 a.m. with a belly full of salmon, potatoes and pudding. And eyes still dazzled by fireworks on the beach with the middle boy asleep, the eldest giddy and the youngest hiding in my shoulder. I excused myself first to retire to bed. My wife hung back, politely chatting with friends next door. It was a strategic move, my mind is telling me now at 7:31 a.m. She stayed up later to lock up so she could get sleeping-in rights.
I like mornings but not without enough sleep or waking up to a wet bed. The youngest didn’t make it to the toilet and the eldest girl is warning me of the spreading pool. My wife’s side remains dry, leading me to believe that weight may play a factor in the path of the liquid.
Out of bed, the three children want breakfast. I slump down the stairs and toss them three pieces of bread. They look dissatisfied through my blurry eyes. I shrug it off and hit the sofa with my pillow until there are cries for milk and a DVD. I get up and come back and my spot has been taken so I head outside to a recliner with the dog and the cat at my feet pestering me for, yes, breakfast. It’s no use. I make a pot of coffee, feed the animals and kick back with a book. It’s too hard to move so I ignore the beeping of the fridge – the kids are raiding the chocolate. No worries. My four-ton dog will clean up the crumbs. I press on with the pot of coffee and my book. There’s no hangover. It was the 30th when I sipped too much wine, leaving me with only a taste for water on the 31st. My wife, too. But she’s still in bed as if she was nursing a massive one.
My head’s swimming from sleep deprivation. The DVD ends and the kids storm out with the Play-doh and their bikes. All’s good except for the youngest, aka The Rascal. The two-year-old has decided she can have a wee like her five-year-old brother. Without his aim, for obvious reasons, she directs it into the dog’s water bowl.
I clean her up, let her go and hit the recliner.
And she’s back to the water bowl. This time with the Play-doh.
“Enough,” I say. “Go get dressed, all of you.”
I decide that they need a healthy breakfast – a fruit salad. I can hear the kids upstairs, no longer being terrors. They’re giggling – with Mummy. A merry time. And now they’re coming downstairs, merrily. I look around at the house. It’s destroyed. And the brand new Play-doh is in the water bowl. My wife looks around and says to our eldest daughter, “I see your Dad has been sleeping down here all this time!”