This week my youngest turned seven (Minecraft birthday cake, complete with chocolate ‘earth’ and fondant Wither – tick!). My oldest is going to secondary school in September (own phone, beginnings of mature conversation, increasing frostiness towards parents – tick!). I am getting further and further away from the toddler years.
Ah, the toddler years. Those mad, frothy, shaky, turbulent, joyous, infuriating toddler years. Those simple years with simple tasks, arranged in such complex combinations, crucial sequences and unpredictable timings as to render them completely impossible to achieve.
As I get further away from those times, it feels increasingly important to remember them. To try, occasionally, to transport myself back and re-live life as it was then. Life with permanent sleep deprivation, nappies, buggies, potties, dribble, tantrums, high chairs. When it took three quarters of an hour to walk to the post box 100 yards away, because we had to examine every ant, clump of grass and piece of litter along the way (and probably lick it).
I want to remember what life was like then, because I need to celebrate the fact that it’s SO different now. I also remember, that the least helpful people in my life back then were the ones who had forgotten how all-consumingly, brain-addlingly maddening those years were.
The one thing that sums up that period of my life best, I think, is The Undrunk Cup of Tea. That cup of tea I made in the morning, but never had a chance to drink, because some kind of child need pulled me away before even the first sip. I would find the cup of tea maybe an hour later, and optimistically pop it in the microwave for 40 seconds. Of course, during those 40 seconds, something else would happen – a nappy explosion, a sibling battle, the postman, some sick – and again I would discover the cup of tea an hour later, undrunk and re-cooled, sitting in the microwave like an abandoned mediochre film star.
As I was musing over this yesterday, I could see in my head that alluring cup of tea on one side of the kitchen, and me on the other, with two toddlers and a million crazy obstacles in between. It was like an early-motherhood version of the Crystal Maze, or an Escape Room devised by a three-year-old. So I wrote this poem, and called it, “Between Me and my Cup of Tea” – it’s dedicated to you if you’re a parent of a toddler – and maybe in a few years you’ll get a chance to read it!!!