Before we head off to the outer blue (blogless) yonder, H and I decided, no, really, quite firmly decided, that we’d go to that hallowed temple of all things Family, IKEA, and refresh our stock of crockery, pillow-slips, rubber gloves (oooh, indeedy), toilet brushes, clothes-hangers, pillows (this one a dismal failure, as they did not have any feather ones, and we must have feather ones, as, to be frank, whisper it, H’s neck sweats vilely on polyester. Which means probably mine does too, but I shan’t dream of admitting any such thing) and a frying-pan.
Of course, because of The Magic of Ikea, we left with all of the above, minus the pillows and the frying-pan (no explanation for absence of frying pan. We just got home and realised we hadn’t even looked at frying-pans) and plus, err, new chair cushions, a book-case, and two office chairs.
Which was quite definitely unexpected.
Anyway, of course the place was full of families. And it being a gigantic warehouse full of strip-lighting, bewildering and endless furniture, and more and more people, the families were often as not in minor crisis, the adults trying to squabble politely about exactly how hideous everyone else’s taste in scatter cushions was while the twelve-year-old hid and the seven-year-old jumped on the beds and the three-year-old threw an epic wobbly, possibly about scatter cushions.
And so I sat in the cafe eating meatballs (for no trip to Ikea is complete without meatballs) and was introspective. As one does. And this is what I introspuck. Spected. Intr… Umm. Thought:
Today, for every parent I saw playing with their kid, or chatting with the kid, or even just not yelling at the kid, there was another parent telling off, pulling away from, shouting at, or grimly enduring their kid. One daddy had finally managed to soothe the baby and was quietly jiggling the sleepy creature when mummy came back and reached out to take him back from daddy. The baby instantly started wailing like a lost soul. The mother’s face, her poor, wounded, frightened, frustrated face. H has tremendous patience with small children. I know in my bones that I will be that mother, frantic because my baby doesn’t seem to like me, frantic because I can’t soothe him or her, and jealous of H because he can.
I don’t know if I could be a parent. I really don’t know if I’m not longing for some rosy, silly, fluffy ideal, and utterly ignoring the screamy shrieky tedious boring boring boring reality, and if I do have a kid, should I have a kid,which I probably won’t, but if I should, will I be utterly miserable and utterly screw the poor kid up? It’s not a toddler’s fault that she spends vast tracts of time being so out-of–her-skull with frustration at not being able to communicate, do anything, go anywhere, decide anything, that she screams her head off at regular intervals. If a giant was busy not speaking my language, and poking unwanted food into me, and dragging me away from anything I liked the look of, I too at the ripe old age of 32 would lie on the floor and shriek after a while. But I also know it’s one thing to think this, childless, and minding my own business the other side of the cafe, and quite another when it’s your very own toddler who is totally all your problem.
So I do not know if this is what I want. I do not know why I am enduring all this. All I have to go on, hope-wise, are a tiny handful of memories – cuddling my littlest sister when I was fifteen and she was one, taking her to see my favourite Japanese exhibition when she was thirteen and igniting a life-long love of Japanese art in her. Rocking my baby niece to sleep when her grandmother couldn’t quite soothe her. When she was a little older, washing her hands for her, feeling her slender little arms under my fingers and marvelling at how perfectly tiny she was. Playing at being a mummy cat going to the post-office with her, showing her the newts in the local pond, picking her up by the feet so she could pretend to be a bat (I have no idea why she wanted to be a bat. I don’t think it matters when you’re three).
As previously mentioned, I am now going away with H, to spend the weekend with the In-Laws, and then to spend a week on Proper Holiday with no washing up. And I had wanted to spend the time frivolling (is frivolling a word? Never mind, I like it).
And here I am fretting, and questioning myself, over and over again. Damn this all for being so uncertain, as well as so hard.