OK I really need a plan. School holidays are no longer on the horizon, they are looming large, as in 'start next week'. No, that's not large, that's HUGE. That's a HUGE amount of time to fill in between now and September. Hands up all the Mums who are actively looking forward to six weeks at home, in Britain, in the rain, constrained by rising fuel costs, ridiculous entrance fees, disappointing interactive exhibitions and unrealistic expectations! Just as I thought......not that many. I suppose there will be a handful of Cath Kidston-clad optimists who are relishing a bug-hunt on the allotment followed by a floury afternoon round the Aga - there always are. They hang round the school playground on the first day of term weeping as ***** enters the system for the first time bewailing the shortness of childhood and the tyranny of the school run. But not many.
There is a conspiracy of silence amongst mothers who don't know each other too well. Everything is fine and dandy. They love spending as much time as possible with their children. They love the cooking and the cleaning and the sheer mindlessness of the daily routine - it's their JOB after all. Funny though, when you get to know them better, the facade starts to crack.
Really, it would be nice to go into the library to browse the novels without ****** screaming at the top of her voice, without the toddler wanting me to sit down and read the same old book to him on the big, ugly puke-stained fish-shaped cushion in the kids' section, read him that bloody book about the caterpillar that I can't stand in the steady controlled voice that tells everyone what a great mother I am.
Sometimes I just give them pizza and chips.
Sometimes I am so knackered and bored that I've opened the wine by teatime.
Sometimes I wish I could just run off, screaming into the arms of some young man.
Sometimes I feel so desperate for adult company I welcome the chance to chat to the chuggers and the surly postman and the double-glazing salesmen.
This is what I hear. Not tales of satisfaction and contentment, but stories of frustration, boredom and despair, urgently whispered by women who straighten up and add that they DO realise how lucky they are really.
So I approach the six week holiday with trepidation. Again. Knowing that by August's end I will be like the woman who sweeps her own square foot of bare earth with a switch of leaves, over and over, looking to neither right nor left, just at the patch of soil in front of her,which is what remains of her sanity.