I don’t know if it's the same for all married couples, but for Ray and I, our arguments have formed a bit of a pattern. Not that we argue a lot – in fact for two people who spend pretty much 24/7 together, I think we do remarkably well... but we do have the odd explosion!
Typically, we argue over time – one of the precious things that is in short supply. Ray will accuse me of sitting on the computer (whoops!) (although, to be fair, I’m often WORKING on the computer); I’ll accuse him of expecting me to do ALL the work; he’ll accuse me of being a bad/reluctant mother as I “don’t seem to want to spend time with the children.” I’ll possibly revert to the age old cliché of calling him an ‘old man’ and he’ll say something about me being childish...
Half an hour later, one of us will bring the other one a cup of tea.
I’m not very good at sulking – I just end up upsetting myself. My philosophy is that unless an argument is a deal breaker – a relationship ender – what’s the point of wasting time ignoring each other or making our lives a misery? We know we’re going to make up eventually...! Although I'm working on my stony silences...
I do wonder though at the pattern our arguments have fallen into: there’s no smoke without fire, as they say. Does Ray really think I don’t want to spend time with the children? Is he right?
I love the kids with every fibre of my body, but like most parents, I do breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when they’re off in dreamland and I get to breathe. But I think that has a lot more to do with energy than anything else – watching two toddlers, and a “big girl” (who often wants to steal toys from said toddlers), whilst trying to cook dinner, or lift squishy abandoned banana from the floor, or find the floor in the playroom – is EXHAUSTING with a capital ZZZ!
And so to my bugbear – do I really feel that Ray is OLD? I mean, he is old (28 years older), compared to me (and I’m no spring chicken these days!) and that’s not going to change - well it’s not going to get better. But I don’t feel like he’s old – he’s just Ray, the man I love and have been married to for nearly 10 years. So maybe I use the “old” card because I know it will probably upset him, just as he hopefully only uses the "bad mother" card because he knows it pushes my buttons.
Ahhh, relationships – what fun!
Lily has obviously inherited her mother’s quick temper, as she’s been up and down like a yo-yo this evening. Cuddles, slaps, smiles, frowns, saying sorry, then smacking my bottom and saying ‘you DARE!’
But then she fell asleep in an instant after her story and, looking at her tiny face lost in a dream, I realised how very young she still is. I know that sounds obvious to everyone reading – she’s 3 for god’s sake! – but to us she’s a “big girl” who goes to school and towers over her brothers. It’s easy to forget she’s just a baby until you watch her in her little pjs, cuddling her Dora the Explorer doll (which, by the way, I HATE as it has scary eyes that stare at me through the darkness) and holding the bottle of milk that we still let her have at night-time...
Suddenly, the scales fall and I realise how very young she is and how small she must feel in this big world...
Finally, I have spent my evening cooking two enormous saucepans full of chicken stew. Determined, for once, not to let the leftover chicken moulder on the bone until I can justify throwing it away for health and safety reasons, I boiled the carcass, chopped carrots, onions, courgettes and made two HUGE saucepans of stew to freeze for when I’m in hospital having de-bumped.
Perhaps I am a good mummy after all?