For those of you who know my blog and have been loyally and mysteriously following my many exciting adventures for months, nay years on end (and for those of your who have just tuned in click here to read about fighting with the fascist, cranky, bloke who used to run the village bar – er, he’s dead now – no, it WASN’T me, or here to discover why my 3 week old baby ended up in hospital, or even here to be warned of the heated perils of living in the south of France in the summer) … erm, I’ve lost track of what I was saying now … oh yes, some of you will know that I spend most of my time living in this tiny village of 30 inhabitants as a single parent with two small, loud children. This is not because I am separated from the father of my children (L’Homme) but because he works, as a technician/stage manager, with probably the most successful touring theatre company in France at the moment. This is good because it means he has lots of work and bad because it means he is mostly away touring. Which when it comes down to it, is a bit like being separated from him; he nips back every now and again for a day or two during which time I complain he does s*d all around the house, he complains I do too much and am not wearing a see-through basque with suspenders as I open the kitchen door to him, packets of condoms hanging from my ears, Tommy insists ONLY Mummy can wipe his bum and cut up his fish fingers, Léonie just screams and grabs onto my tracksuit bottoms thus yanking them down for L’Homme to recoil in horror at the realisation I haven’t waxed my entire body in honour of his homecoming, and once we’ve all calmed down it’s time for him to leave on tour again.
However, L’Homme has now been home with us since June. He worked a bit in July, on an opera festival in Orange which meant he came home every night (except for the ones when he got rat-assed with the technical director and slept on the floor), we all went on holiday to Italy in August, but since September we have been living a normal family life as a foursome-with-dog on a day to day basis. I say ‘normal’ – well it’s not actually very normal, because no-one is going off to work … we are together 24 hours a day.
TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY.
Bloody Hell I hear some of you scream, at the thought of your blokes being home all day, everyday. Yes. I know. I have been there. I have the cyanide capsules ready. At first it was horrific in all the ways you can imagine, but having then come closer to separating than we have ever done in our entire flamethrower relationship, we had to make a grown-up decision to stick things out, at least until Léonie started sleeping through the night and we could begin to see things as less of a suicidal blur. L’Homme urged me to “laissez aller” – to let things go, which after a tremendous effort, I did, and this had the magical effect of him doing the washing-up, tidying, cooking and a lot of baby-minding while I got out, went running in the hills, drank coffee with friends, played the drums with a band, saw a show, went to Marseille, got drunk, ate too much pizza, had a handstand lesson, did a car boot sale. Just not all on the same day.
We have managed to find a sort of balance where we share the drudgery and share the fun. We even watch Doctor House together (once I had got over the initial shock of Hugh Laurie being serious and American and stiff). Autumn is stretching on, we still have at least three hours of glorious sunshine in the afternoon each day, when we can work in the garden or just drink coffee on the balcony together. We are (mostly) getting along and are both in semi-shock about this, quite happily. However, it is all to end soon. Someone has to earn some money pretty damn fast. The new show with the company kicks off in January and the tour schedule is as intensive as Abba’s in 1977. L’Homme will vanish from our lives, only to return for brief snippets with differing lengths of stubble on his chin, fill the fridge with stinky cheese and then implode in a puff of train dust. I will be back to round-the-clock housework, nappy-changing, high-chair wiping, reading “I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet, they sent me an ELEPHANT!” thirty times in a row and wondering what my name is. Tonight I got a little reminder of this as L’Homme is out at a wine-tasting party with our dentist (who is no doubt persuading him to buy 4 cartons of wine which will mean next month we can only eat frozen peas and crackers), and I am home alone with the kids.
As L’Homme left, he put our old, broken phone in Tommy’s garden playhouse, forgetting he had repainted it this afternoon and storming back up to the kitchen with a paint-stained jacket, swearing life is too complicated, why had I even suggested we give Tommy the phone to play with? I was meant to apologise but was too busy shovelling quinoa in Léonie’s mouth and pretending to feed it to a Playmobile knight so that she would keep eating, and anyway, why should I apologise, it wasn’t my fault? L’Homme left wearing just a jumper, I got to work on the stains with the white spirit and a toothbrush while Léonie splashed, slipped and nearly drowned in the bath and Tommy cried on the sofa because Daddy had gone.
“He’s only going out for the evening, sweetie, he’ll be back later”.
“But Daddy is gone!”
“Yes honey, he will be home in about three hours, when you’re in bed.”
“But him is gone!”
“YES. AND. HE. WILL. BE. BACK. LATER”.
To no avail whatsoever. If it’s after seven in the evening, Tommy is a drama king. He kept crying, heartbroken. Léonie started screaming too. The baked beans bubbled over. The phone went. Tommy banged into the door as he walked through to the kitchen. he screamed. Léonie screamed. I healed Tommy’s mortal injury with a hug and a rub, took a slippery Léonie out of the bath, balanced her on my hip, served up a plate of baked beans, burnt myself in doing so, boiled an egg, didn’t set my iphone timer properly, Tommy refused to eat the egg until he heard the timer go off, I had to set a fake timer, fight Léonie into a nappy and a babygrow, spoon out the edges of the boiled egg for Tommy, put him in the bath, retrieve Léonie from halfway up our Danger Staircase (stone steps, uneven, steep, with razor blades upturned and spears that jab out from the wall), get Tommy out of the bath, dump him in front of a cartoon, carry Léonie up to her bedroom (narrowly avoiding the spears), fight her into her gro-bag, breastfeed her to sleep, put her in bed, tiptoe out, find Tommy asleep on the sofa, carry him up to his bedroom, fall back down the stairs, unload the dishwasher, load it again (have you fallen alseep yet?), wash up the burnt bean pan and the rest of the kitchen, put L’Homme’s jacket in the washing machine on HOT, fold the laundry, make myself a cup of tea which is now cold, and wonder how I’m going to do this on a daily basis when L’Homme is away, without killing someone.
This makes me think I should perhaps make the most of him while he is still here. Appreciate his presence and the things he does around the house. Make him feel that he’s doing a good job. So I’m off to wax my entire body and dig out that see-through basque complete with condom earrings.