It seemed like a good idea. “Bring the children over for Sunday lunch,” I suggested to my daughter and son-in-law last week.
After all, they only live round the corner. Yet the strange thing is that we don’t actually do Sunday lunch together that often. They are often out doing their own thing or else we are. At weekends, I also need to catch up on my own writing work because I look after little Rose and George on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
But as the nights start to draw in, I’m aware that we need to spend more family time together when I’m not just helping out.
“Great,” said my daughter after checking her iPhone calendar. “We’re free. See you at 12.”
Whoops! I’d forgotten that as well as Greenwich Mean Time there is also Young Family Time. The latter – at least in my offspring’s house – means that the day starts at anything from 5am onwards. This has a knock-on effect on meals. Breakfast is 6ish; lunch is midday on the dot; and tea is 4.45pm, allowing time for food throwing, bath and bedtime stories.
As a writer, I also start my day early. But in my husband’s retired life, breakfast ends at around 10.30am and lunch is approximately 2-2.30pm. So when my little brood arrived on the dot of midday, tired and hungry, my husband has only just finished emptying the toaster crumb tray!
“We’re almost ready,” I say feverishly peeling the last sprout. “Just another half an hour or so.”
“But the children are ravenous,” says my daughter at exactly the same time as my husband says, “I’m not hungry yet.”
“Please,” I say, a touch tetchily. “Can’t we all sit at the table together just once?”
A compromise is reached. George and Rose have grated cheese and veg to keep them going so by the time my home-made fish pie is ready, they’re no longer hungry. My husband picks at his serving and then declares he’ll have it “later”.
There’s nothing like the waves to remind us of how beautiful life can be
Still, everyone bucks up later when we walk along the seafront. There’s nothing like the waves to remind us of how beautiful life can be. Lots of other families are strolling along too and I feel a surge of pride and happiness that I have two wonderful grandchildren whom I see every day.
“Sure you’ll still be all right to have them next week, Mum?” asks my daughter.
“Of course I will,” I say, trying not to sound apprehensive.
If you read last week’s column, you’ll remember that I’ve fractured something called the Radial Head bone in my elbow after falling off my bike. (Beware of loose shoe laces which get entangled in cycle wheels!) It can’t be plastered because of the position so I am meant to wear a sling. This proves totally impractical when it comes to looking after two children under three when my children work.
My husband has been helping out by taking little Rose to nursery but he has “things to do” during the rest of the day. My eldest son, who is working from home, comes over at teatime. The middle part is up to me. And yes, we have tried to find substitute childcare but no one is free. Besides, little George is very clingy and won’t go to anyone he doesn’t know.
As I write this, George is having his afternoon nap during one of my granny days this week. I’ve tried not to use my poorly arm too much but there are times when there’s no option. .
Still, it seems this is not an uncommon predicament. I’ve already bumped into three grannies this week in town who have also ploughed on regardless after various injuries, so as not to let down their families with childcare. One actually damaged her eye when she was playing hide and seek in the garden.
Counting my blessings
Then, when walking by the front yesterday, I saw a young mum in a wheelchair with a toddler on her knee. The man walking next to her also had a dog. They were smiling and looking happy, pointing out a boat to the little one. Their enthusiasm was infectious. And it made me count my blessings.
“How about Sunday lunch again next weekend?” I suggest to my daughter and son-in-law when they come back from work.
“Are you sure, Mum?”
“Absolutely.” I give her a warm hug, breathing in the scent of this beautiful 32-year-old woman who will always be my lovely little girl to me. “But perhaps we can make it slightly later this time…”