Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: These quietly happy moments are the true make-up of family life

A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The last dose of Tramadol is still coursing through my veins as I pull myself from bed. I look at the clock: 7.12am. Through the floorboards I can hear my family, already well ensconced in the day. The pain in my foot still well muted, I float downstairs and – not yet ready to face the day – settle on the last step.

From this distance, I listen to my life playing out from the living room: the familiar buzz of CBeebies, the rattle of a toy train as it clatters along its wood-veneer track – and from nowhere, I feel tears of joy sting my eyes. Because sitting here, I realise that it is these quietly happy moments that are the true make-up of family life. Moments like this, I realise, are more important than, for example, the conversation I had with my husband last night, which went like this. Him (looking at me, looking down at my shirt, thinking "Do I need to wash this shirt?"): "Are you thinking your boobs have shrunk?".

Yes, I muse, these are the times of our lives. OK, so the four-year-old has been a bit difficult recently, and the nearly-one-year-old does frequently try to head-butt me, and maybe I'm working all night every night. But really – who cares? This is what it's about. Family life, the everyday humdrum. I stand up and reach for the door, smiling quietly to myself. At that moment, I hear my daughter's voice, that familiar, adorable Arthur Smith-like cockney drawl: "I know, let's play mums and dads. I'll be the big sister and you can be the baby, and daddy can be the daddy: 'Oh look, little brother, mummy's dead!'."

motherland.net

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