I love mornings.
Not getting up, that bit is lousy; but I love the coming to life of a house, my family. The fights for the bathroom, the loo, the attempts to pass on the stairs, the raiding of the kettle, bread bin, fridge. Dogs dashing out for a wee, then dashing back in to greet everyone. And in that wonderful Dachshund way, they have to greet everyone personally and separately.
First though, my husband gets up and goes to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love him dearly, but he washed his hair last night and has gone deaf in one ear. I spent most of the evening repeating myself while he looked at me in exasperation and said “Eh?” as if I wasn’t speaking clearly enough.
So help me, if he goes deaf as he gets older I’m taking out a life insurance policy on him. I can’t say any more or else it becomes premeditated and you get longer in prison for that. So I’m told.
Right now I have six dogs in the house. There are six humans in this house. So if each dog greets each human each morning, that’s thirty-six sets of tailwagging and doggy happiness each morning. They’ll do it all again when the kids come home and Chris and I get in. That’s seventy-two wagfests. Add in a mealtime twice a day and we get to eighty-six. Except that one day a week, one of the dogs will be with me at a show and will eat two of those meals on the hoof – subtract two happy times. Grand total of six hundred expressions of Dachshund ecstasy a week. That’s thirty one thousand and two hundred doggy daft sessions a year.
Poxy Roxy accompanies most of hers with an involuntary bladder release. We greet Le Pox in the kitchen where there’s no carpet. I am saving up for vinyl right through.
If you just take the greetings, and add in the amount of times they get taken for a walk – you make eighty four a day, or four thousand, three hundred and sixty eight a year, which is a bit of a coincidence within my calculator today.
Mike goes first. He goes to school on the bus.
That leaves me with Alfie, Joe and Zak. Alfie is collected and taken by council transport. No one quite matches up to his first driver, Malcolm, but at the moment we have a lovely team who collect him. In the past we’ve had some who were, ermm, “less than competent”. Including the one who after ten days asked me (in front of Alfie) “is it a boy or a girl?”
But back to the morning. Mike has gone, Alfie is dressed and Joe is still in his “snooty suit”. Lunchboxes are packed, toast is being eaten and I’m having a coffee while leaving the parenting to Ms Nintendo for five minutes.
So, ten years on, this is what it’s like being married.
It’s pretty good.
What is marriage anyway? What is supposed to be the “perfect marriage”? The one where you stay together for 50 years hating each other? Or the one where you end up with two children, a huge house and two foreign holidays a year? How can a marriage be a good one if one partner is unfaithful but never found out? How can that same marriage be unsuccessful if both parties are happy and stay together till death us do part?
I don’t know. Mine doesn’t fit into any of those categories, and like everything else in life, it’s a story not yet written right through, but I wouldn’t change much right now.
Alfie’s transport arrives, and he is led off, bewailing his fate as usual. As soon as the front door shuts, he turns into a little lamb and enjoys the bus ride, but he does like to inform me and the rest of the street of how unfair it is that he has to go to school. Even when has been glued to the front door waiting to go.
Zak doesn’t want to go. He is having trouble with a child there, his little face already has three scars from this boy – he doesn’t want to change school, doesn’t want to be homeschooled, he just wants this other child to fall down a big black hole. So do I. In fact, much as I like kids, I’d happily push the little git down that same hole and fill it in for him.
Zak is in tears. I offer him the day off but they serve sausages on a Friday so he decides to go. Joe insists on singing Iy Iy Yippee Yippee Yiy! all the way to “playgloop”.
My husband arrives home at lunchtime and asks me to pour olive oil in his ear. Is this being married? A deaf man you shout at and who leaves greasy patches on the pillow? Then he goes back to work.
There are two adults and four children in this house. Each of whom require a clean pair of socks daily. (2 x 6) x 7 = 84. That’s eightyfour socks every week that have to be retrieved from wherever they were dropped, then washed, dried and then lobbed into a bucket to await the arrival of their mates. Eighty-four. Unless someone gets wet feet and uses extra socks.
In a year, I wash four thousand, three hundred and sixty eight socks. Is this marriage?
I wonder how many actually never make a pair.
Do the same math with underwear and my washing machine sees forty-two underpants and knickers. Or it should… Michael was in the bathroom one evening when he was about six. I was running him a bath and he began stripping off. He was wearing four pairs of underpants so I asked why. He said
“Mummy you told me to put on a clean pair every morning”
Six dogs. So that’s six dinner bowls, twice a day. (6 x 2) x 7 = Eighty-four. That’s as bad as the socks. In a year, I wash four thousand, three hundred and sixty eight dog bowls. Water bowls would be extra.
Cups of tea. Like most people, we have a cup of tea in the morning and at bedtime. This adds up in the same way as the socks. So each week I make eighty-four cups of tea. And unless I bribe a child or Chris gets there first, I wash eighty four mugs. You see where this is going?
That’s a lot of washing up liquid too. Ecover rocks.
Joe comes out of playgloop singing.
♫ Row Row Row your boat, gently down the stream. If you see a frockadile, Don’t forget the cream ♪
I collect Zak from school. The other boy was absent and they served pizza instead of sausages.
Alfie is dropped off a little later. He has slept most of the way home they say, and he proves them truthful by going back to sleep on the sofa as soon as he gets his coat off.
Chris comes home with a lump of tissue poked in his ear.
I didn’t get all the laundry done, but I realised a single truth. I have discovered the sum of this happy marriage.
It is four thousand, three hundred and sixty eight and a detergent that shifts oil out of pillowcases.