The battle of the bed time routine


Awoke early around 5am, the glow of the bed light, a sequence of primary colours. I can see the computer throbbing its standby light on the bookshelf. Shower. Up. Washing in the washing machine. Chugging around, a zip catching occasionally on its door. Creaks from the sleeper in the bedroom above. On the table Naoise reading book, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962, a metal tea pot, soya milk, my blue jumper, sellotape roll, the three saints postcard leant against the green vase of red roses and pussy willow, an empty packet of guitar strings.

Hands are swollen again with arthritis. Sip tea, I could and probably will drink the whole pot. The 6th January, day that the three kings arrive with their gifts, day that the Christmas decorations come down and all will feel bare. Bare and sad. It is a relief that the children have gone back to school, and the house is once again my domain, that objects will remain still and unplayed with. I told Naoise yesterday that it was sad that he was going back to school and he said to me “but mummy we have been together for a long time now”. How sensible my youngest son is, and how his face glowed up with happiness as he saw his friends arrive in the classroom.

I hear a bus trundle past. It is warmer, no need to turn on the gas fire. It is markedly warmer.

The holidays are pretty much a free for all on time and watching tv and going to bed late and getting up late, so there is plenty of readjustment to do. Got Naoise to sleep at 9pm last night. I was falling asleep before him. Read him 4 books including the wonderful Three Robbers by Tony Ungerer. Santa brings great gifts to my children, I adore his narratives and illustrations. Naoise was pretending that him and his two friends at school were the three robbers and working out who would have which weapon. Naoise shows no signs of settling down after the books. I get Patrick to bring up soothing warm milk and cheese on crackers gromit, hoping that this will lull him into sleep.

"Fut" written on Naoise foot by Naoise

“Fut” written on Naoise foot by Naoise

He wants to draw, he wants to look at his new knight on a horse that grannie bought him, which is still affixed to its box. I separate it form its packaging and Naoise proceeds to charge knight and stallion around the bed. I am weary and tired myself. I lie and just look at him playing. He tries to poke the knights sword up my nose. It is too much, too much. Need to sleep. Eventually I get him to concede and he switches the main light off and we cuddle and fall asleep together.


Admiring the knight on the horse

It would be better if I could stay awake beyond the hours that the children are, but I am a morning person, I struggle at night. I struggle with total exhaustion. I will try to be kind to myself. The new year hangs over me as a dark cloud of tax return. I am genuinely excited about writing the PhD application, I read through an example, it is so clear and concise. I am still fumbling around with mine, something about the everyday, maternal embodiment, drawing and working with mothers. Is it mothers that are artists that I am interested in or women that are becoming mothers. It is something to do with the becoming, the feeling of falling of a cliff and awakening to a world that is so different. So different but the same that it can feel frightening.

Often I feel that I am still that little five year old girl up on a branch in the damson tree, just looking down, just observing, not wanting to partake, I just want to watch, to take it all in. As I watch my children. I am the watcher, the observer, sometimes struggle to participate. Being poked in the nose by a plastic sword at the end of the day is funny and sweet and nasty all at once.

My hair is wet and matted with knots, I feel its cold on my ears. The washing machine has begun to chug and spin and rattle on the kitchen floor. There are now many cars on the road passing. Chugger chugger chugger, woosh, woosh, water, water. My washer is an orchestra of sounds. The cars travel with speed, more than the permitted 30 miles per hour.

Sylvia beside me, I had an idea that I should read the corresponding day of her journals, I looked to the 6th January, I couldn’t find an entry for that, but there is one for the 7th. I will read it and see if there is anything that I can pull from it, any parallels, juxtapositions, similarities in what we say. It is a black time of year. I walk each day to battle the gloom. I call Sylvia and I will call on Anne Sexton to help me. I feel close to these women and their words.

The buzzer on the cooker sounds. Beep beep beep, Beep, beep, beep, beep

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