Today it’s Mother’s Day. Happy day to all that are. The weeks that have preceded today have been trying, to say the least. A full on break out of the worst gastroenteritis took place in the Monkey House, lasting almost 10 days. All monkeys and Mr LMR taking their turn to undergo the agony and, at times, humiliating effects of the bug. There, in the middle, stood I. Mother Monkey, Little Mummy Running. Bleach in one hand, anti bacterial spray in the other, fighting the urge to run away. Determined to conquer the germs and nurse them all back to health. Today they thanked me with a moments peace and quiet.
The guilt of the working mother hanging heavily between us
This week has tested me as a mother. No annual leave left I had to go to my boss with some of the evidence holding my hand. “What has happened now?” He said looking at a pale and quiet Middle Monkey. The guilt of the working mother hanging heavy between us. A days unpaid leave was required when Top fell ill later in the week, bringing Mr LMR with him.
Little Miss had been the first to fall but as toddlers often do, she toddled on through. Not eating much but still in good spirits. Middle fell ill at school just as he sat down for his Saint Patrick’s Day party tea. I collected him shortly after, wearing his shamrock crown, pasty white and carrying his soiled underpants in a plastic carrier bag.
Stop sharing the towels
I had hoped to stem the spread of the plague through good hygiene practices. There was diligent hand washing, application of hand gel, bleaching and spraying of surfaces and the strict instructions not to use the same towels. “Don’t use the brown towel” I instructed clearly. My mistake was to place a grey towel on the rail as a disease free alternative. I later found it unused and Top using the brown towel! “But they were both brown!” Protested Mr LMR later. I decided not to argue the difference between brown and grey. Chose your battles. I was surrounded by enough brown as it was.
I achieved a small reprieve at the back end of the week, as I had to attend compulsory training for work. Exhausted and anxious after several nights of brown, late night accidents and Mr LMRs flatulence, I worried that I would struggle to retain any information. I was jubilant however, on the Friday, when I glanced at my phone to find a WhatsApp message from Mr LMR announcing that Middle had had his first solid poo in 7 days, but that he was concerned that it was completely white! “Hoorah. We can work on the colour” was my reply.
As I sit here alone and retell the sorry tale of Gastroentoritis Week in the Monkey House, I reflect on who I am as a mother. Today I was woken at 6.15am, pre clocks changing time. A big pink card with a badge saying “loved to bits” on it and a bunch of flowers thrust into my face. As no one has been to school this week the usual homemade offerings were absent and missed. But that didn’t matter because the sun was shining and they were all finally looking better.
The day has not been without its conflicts. Top asked me to chose him an outfit then refused to agree to wear anything. Then Little Miss fought any clothes at all preferring to be mostly naked. Middle drew me a nice chalkboard tree however which helped me not lose it completely.
Make yourself a nice drink (preferably gin)
At approximately 12 noon, Mr LMR left with all three monkeys to go and visit his own mum. Before he left, he instructed me not to clean up the carnage, left behind after days of sick and caged monkiness. Instead he said “make yourself a nice drink (preferably gin) and read a magazine in the sunshine.” That is what I have done, sort of. I brewed myself a proper cup of coffee and wrote to you. I start two weeks annual leave tomorrow. Some time for me. A time that I have needed for a while. My plans involve some spring cleaning of the Monkey House and of my own head.
Mother’s Day is wonderful. A time to be together and appreciate how lucky we are. The cards and the flowers are wonderful but you cannot beat a few minutes of peace to reflect on what a good mummy you are, despite the days you think that you are failing. Everything you do for them, the poo you clean up, the temperatures you take, every time you google their symptoms, or cuddle them up with you and watch a movie, means that to them, you are the best. That you are there for them whatever. For this you will always be loved to bits. I know this because they have just got back and are having an argument about who gets to see me first. (Sighs, rolls eyes, but still smiles to ones self.)