So what do you do all day?

Have you heard the story about the man who came home from work and found garbage strewn all over his front lawn. His hungry, dirty, children were waiting for him on the front doorstep, one of them was holding a sharp kitchen knife trying to wedge open a jar of Nutella.

When he walked inside, he couldn’t believe it, the house was almost unrecognizable. Dishes were piled on the sink and the dog was licking spilt sticky juice from the floor.  The ironing basket was overflowing, there was a huge pile of dirty clothes leant up against the washing machine. He realized something else was wrong. He couldn’t smell his dinner cooking?

“Where’s your mother?” he asked his children. “She’s upstairs in bed” they replied somewhat bewildered. As he wandered up the stairs he collected the debris along the way, empty drink containers, notes from school about library books and field trips, the remains of discarded lunch boxes. He found his wife, sitting in bed with her feet up reading a book. “What’s going on?” he said.

“Well”, she replied “you know how you asked me what I do all day? Today I didn’t do it”.

It is exactly three weeks since I broke my foot. Three weeks of sponge baths, upside down hair washing and wide length pants. Three weeks of hopping on one foot to the bathroom, sliding up and down the stairs on my bum and tucking as many items in to my bra before picking up my crutches. Thank you God for providing me with the cleavage to support a bottle of bubbles and champagne flute.

Perhaps more intriguing than my multi purpose cleavage though, is my multi purpose husband.

In the many domestic forms of our 12 years of marriage, I think we have pretty well covered all of the different options available. Our marriage, in its current form, involves G leaving for the office at 7 and arriving (if he wants to remain married) home before 7 that evening. My day involves co-ordinating 4 children in various states of mood, dress and activity, each day is varied depending on the state of the child. A simple trip to swimming lessons can be fun, it can involve swinging hands and kisses at the door or on a bad day a complete meltdown in the change rooms, followed by a poo in the pool. You’re never sure what you’re going to get.

For the past three weeks we’ve had to adjust our roles. Well G has adjusted his, I just gave mine up. I was forced in to retirement. My new role, initially sounded fabulous. Sit with your ankle elevated, no driving, no weight baring. This is every mothers dream. Right? An enforced break from the routine.

On day one it was cute, as G stood in his suit and tie, blackberry between his teeth, he began wrestling with the Second Little Travelers pony tail, she gave instructions “it’s not right, it needs to be higher, I need boof at the front, there’s no boof”. I looked up from laptop and smiled to myself, I know how to do boof, I do really good boof.

When G came home from the first school run he told me it was great, he loved the conversations in the car, they’d all been to the cafeteria after school and had Subway and chocolate cookies and brownies, I decide not to point out that we would require a second mortgage if this was to continue. I was happy that everyone was happy, but yes, I was secretly waiting for the wheels to fall off.

After two lots of swimming lessons, an orthodontist visit, a lost child, and a science project that involved the transportation of fish, I noticed the tone was starting to change. There was tension. When G had endured four hours at the school fair I thought I could visibly see his hair receding before my eyes. Then came the text from the indoor play centre, “put wine in fridge, right now please” when I made a joke he said “you don’t understand, I’m in a dark room with flashing lights, there is a grown man singing La Bamba”. I didn’t tell him La Bamba man and I are on a first name basis.

He phones me as he waits at my usual after school hang outs, he shares the events of the day. The lost swimming goggles, the terrifying school play rehearsal, how someone changed their mind on dress up day and a mad scramble was made to get in to “normal clothes,” in the car park. He proudly tells me how it was handled, just a few tears, the crisis averted. I congratulate him, it takes all my strength not to tell him that these are weekly events, that soon he won’t even mention them.

At dinner there are the usual discussions about forgotten lunch money, field trip notices, birthday party invitations, mismatched sandwich choices and missing PE shorts. I find myself hanging on every word and there’s a faint feeling of jealousy. I’ve had to relinquish control and suddenly G has a much better idea of what’s going on in everyones lives. Isn’t this what I wanted? Why am I feeling so threatened by this?

It’s possible that I’m irrational when I realize how upset I am that I missed the awful Grade One zoo trip, the one where you have to sit on the ridiculously little train with your knees up around your ears. I missed it. I apologize to the Third Little Traveler for not being there for him, I have a tear in my eye, he looks frightened by my desperation.

When dinner is finished and everyone is told to head upstairs for baths and bed, G uses his new phrase,  I’ve heard it every day this week “brush your teeth or you’ll have Rhino Butt Breath” everyone finds this hysterically funny. Dad said Butt. Suddenly, tooth brushing is funny. I smile a forced smile.

Yesterday, G and I return to the doctors, we’re told there’s a possibility the cast may come off by the end of the week, G lets out a huge sigh of relief and I immediately start planning my first bath. We both agree this experience has taught us something really important. Something we knew but we’d somehow lost sight of in the rush. Appreciate what you have, the every day, the stuff that’s right in front of you. Even the Grade One zoo trip.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09634901143397732983 Parental Parody

    Just love it. I work Saturday’s, and my #1 Hubby (#1 because he is my #1 – but he’s also easily replaced with #2 Hubby if Brad Pitt sees the light) wrangles the 2yr old twins and Miss5. All week I get the “well I’ve had a terrible, busy day at work – but you GOT TO stay home all day” – like it’s a privilege and I do nothing. But after only 7hrs away on a Saturday, #1 Hubby is a blithering mess and just about launches on me as I get home, seriously in need of Valium or beer or both. His nerves are completely shot, the kids have missed their slightly more patient Mum, and I am blissfully appreciated for a day. Because come Monday, he’s had yet another horrific day at work, and I’ve just sat at home – again….

  • http://sarsm.wordpress.com/ sarsm

    I fell down the stairs and broke my tail bone when pregnant with child number four. Then started having contractions. For THREE MONTHS I had to sit with my feet up or lie down.
    The health insurance paid for a lady to come and look after the children and when she wasn’t there, my husband was left in charge.
    It was difficult not being in control.

    Glad your foot is on the mend!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05583427035028105537 Áine Tierney

    Really well told. I enjoyed reading this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00301436591259626769 Phil & Bern

    Oh God I loved this. You are such a great bloody writer. I though, would be sensationally screwed if I ever become incapacitated because my cleavage is nil to non-existent. All very well to drop a few kilos but when means your very on the border B cup becomes an A, well, I’m not quite sure it’s worth it.

    Bern_morley@twitter.com

    Hope the cast comes off soon. That’ll teach you to dance on tables. #ifonly

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03482513767849843084 My New Normal

    So glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery. It sounds like you’ve got yourself a good hubby there. I’m sure he will be equally glad to have you back to 100% again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02397398447336655195 Georgie

    Absolutely! Wouldn’t miss those everyday bits for the world… especially when our two year old without fail every night says ‘I wuff oo Mum’ as she goes to bed. Gorgeous! gxo

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15999271127735997770 Naturally Carol

    Just had a little giggle at this post as from the beginning of December til the end of January I had a very sore knee and couldn’t stand at all. My twenty somethings had to wash their own towels etc, clean bathrooms and toilets, make Christmas dinner with Dad and various other things..grocery shopping etc. We had Mr W’s meatloaf almost every other day…not complaining though..apart from the pain..it was wonderful to watch them work while i blogged! Good for them too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04077602585552419860 Trish@Show and Tell

    Thank god for cleavage! Although I am a tad concerned that I may also be able to carry nibblies under the fold of fat on my belly.

    Trish
    xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11497714541093217629 Blocks and Knocks

    You made me laugh so much! What a wonderful post, love it:) I broke my toe last week and hubby did 5 hrs of kids before he crumpled into the fetal position and called his Dad to come help lol your hubby is amazing:)

    Ness

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09646026064261601469 Happy Homemaker UK

    I was flat on my back with a herniated disc for 4 months – it was definitely a stretch for the family, esp my husband. Hope you will be back to normal in no time.

    I’d love to have you join my Expat Linky Party on March 19th 🙂

  • http://www.memoriesbydenyse.com/ Denyse

    Oh the familiar and the funny and the fearful and the forlorn stories we tell about this unforeseen opportunity we fell on..or did it befall us.. No matter.
    Your G is a brick!!! But he is getting a bit crumbly on the edges now .. Hey man who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for Disco time .. Uh huh!!
    How lucky and fortunate to have the hopeful news of:-
    – a bath
    – hair washed right way round
    – cooking dinner
    – packing the kids off to school

    Lady.. I know you well ( we are joined by one common link.. Break a Leg anyone) and you will proceed to overdo activity, think you can do all you did before the break and you will endure swollen foot and pain because above all…
    Bed
    Coffee
    Newspapers
    Don’t cut it after the first day of bed rest!
    Goooood Luck at the Dr!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00716840690306670995 sitting oh so pretty

    Hi there Kirsty!!Thanks for popping by!! I haven,t blogged for a while as I’ve been so busy but I am trying to set up a new blog just about all my passions and creative stuff, will post a link to it as soon as I can. As you probably know there is never enough hours in the day. Will look forward to reading your posts, your recent one was excellent…so my sense of humour. If you go to mine and click on ‘giggle time, label at the top, you will see how bonkers I am..tehe :)xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01142735766080928362 bojechko

    Wonderful blog Kirsty, absolutely love them! Fortunately for our marriage I’ve never been “out of commission” like you but often wondered what would happen if I was… with the kids old enough now, I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about that happening anymore.
    Hugs,
    Tracy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17361328651755074403 Another Day of Crazy

    Oh, being out of commission is lovely, makes everyone appreciate everyone else so much more! And the fact that your cleavage can carry bubbly… it’s amazing what mums can accomplish when we must, isn’t it?

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend.

  • http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com/ Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane

    That was quite an experience for you and your family, and I know how you feel about appreciating the “ordinary” things in life, the ones we often don’t think about. Like being able to walk up and down the stairs!

    My husband was lucky enough to deal with my broken leg while we were living in Ghana, West Africa. The kids had already flown the nest. We had help in the house, and our cleaning lady’s husband was a chef and offered to cook for us while I lounged on the sofa with a cast all the way up my thigh. We dined royally.

    “All” my dh had to do was somehow drag me down the stairs in the morning and back up in the evening and help me take a sponge bath.

    But boy was I happy when that cast came off! I never really knew what it meant not to be mobile.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12300961546795965857 Jodie at Mummy Mayhem

    Wow. LOVE this post.

    Yup – sometimes we just don’t see the great things in front of us. It’s the little things, people. The little things.

    Great post.

    (And my apologies in advance – unfortunately you’ll only be able to use the empathy card with G about how challenging your life as a mother is for about 3 days, by which time he’ll have completely forgotten his own experiences! *sigh*)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00464868349672755774 Shelly – Tropical Mum

    This is a great post. We all want our hubbies to recognise that it is not all bonbons and soap operas, but we don’t want them to actually do a good job in our absence.

    I went away for three weeks to Canada because my dad was sick and everything seemed to go along swimmingly without me. My husband had his mother to take on the kid duties, but still when I got home, I wasn’t expecting my youngest to call me Nana…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18254275544017629129 bigwords is…

    He’s a good one that husband of yours!! Hope everyone’s coping ok in your house. Counting down weeks until you are in oz! x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02743336097657087832 Jane

    A ripper post, Kirsty. I totally *get* it. One so many levels. I hope you’re up and at it ASAP. J x

  • http://www.seekingsynergy.wordpress.com/ Nmaha

    I’m going to work on my cleavage. Apparently there are specific exercises that help.
    What! we mommies aren’t indispensable. Nooo…my fragile ego can’t take this.
    As usual, I love everything you write.

  • http://www.adventuresinexpatland.com/ linda@adventuresinexpatland.com

    Great post! (Although I would only have been feigning upset at missing the first grade zoo trip. But don’t worry, I’d be convincing.)

    Your husband is a trooper, but then again, I’m sure he gets it from you. No doubt he will be heaving a big sigh of relief. If he gets out of line, ask him what he’s doing with all of his free time now!

    Glad you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09198159357998731098 Louie

    OMG. You say it so well. But it is a long time for you to be out of the action…and with that I can understand you being slightly upset. But I love that you realise the small things and making us readers think about them too and how much we value each other and each others day to day activties 🙂 Im off for a yr 1 beach trip tomorrow 🙂 YAY!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05745117719761568320 sherri

    so glad to find your blog, too! you are hilarious. i don’t call people hilarious lightly. i’m following yo blawg.

  • Anonymous

    This is just beyond funny. Thank you. I am currently sitting with a fractured, dislocated ankle trying to mend it!! And have 3 little kids, live in Sydney, no family around so we’re flying them up one at a time from Melbourne to help out!! Our nanny who was working a few hours a week for us is now making out like a bandit!! Mu hubbie is being a star too but don’t tell him that I am secretly enjoying resting a bit from the madness of our lives and watching someone else do the hard yakka!! I was also an expat for 8 years so think your blog is just so spot on. Thanks for laughs, feel better, but not too soon!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14907024797797093935 Modern Dilemma

    Found your blog today (but think I have been here before & weirdly not bookmarked you?!) Anyway, fabulous post. Sorry to hear you have been temporarily disabled though, must be a real pain in the arse. For reasons that are not the obvious, your post has given me much to ponder upon.

    Thanks,
    MD x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01142735766080928362 bojechko

    Wonderful blog Kirsty, absolutely love them! Fortunately for our marriage I’ve never been “out of commission” like you but often wondered what would happen if I was… with the kids old enough now, I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about that happening anymore.
    Hugs,
    Tracy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00716840690306670995 sitting oh so pretty

    Hi there Kirsty!!Thanks for popping by!! I haven,t blogged for a while as I’ve been so busy but I am trying to set up a new blog just about all my passions and creative stuff, will post a link to it as soon as I can. As you probably know there is never enough hours in the day. Will look forward to reading your posts, your recent one was excellent…so my sense of humour. If you go to mine and click on ‘giggle time, label at the top, you will see how bonkers I am..tehe :)xx

  • Classiccooking

    I too am a mother of four. Single mother of four. I am in my first week of as you say “retirement”. I had emergency surgery last week. Broke my fibula and tibula. My parents were out if town, my older children were at friends and my ex was out to a movie 30 min. away. I was about to have major surgery w/out anyone being there with me.  I am so unsure, scared of not being in control, guiltriden for not being able to do anything. I thought as I was waiting in the ER, this won’t get me down. I have had three C-sections and was up and going three- four days after surgery. I took my son to play mini golf 1 week after surgery. Why am I still lying in this bed??? Is it really going to be a week before I can get back on my feet? Oh wait……six weeks…..maybe more? Oh and then I have read about swelling happening even after a year. Oh yeah I am scared!!!!!! Lonely, frustrated, mad, sad, not in control, the list goes on. Any advice would be greatly apprectated. Tammie mother of 15yr.old son, 11yr.old daughter, 6yr.old daughter, 5yr.old son.

  • Photographer-Mum

    What an awesome post! Love your blog, and am now following.
    I was guilty of asking this very same question to my step-mum when she had my little brother 7 years ago, and now, as a mother of 3 myself I have been asked the very same question. I think every household should have a copy of that story stuck to their fridge! 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00328051384195209822 Working london mummy

    just broke my ankle this weekend so am at the beginning of the tunnel you have been through! thanks for sharing !