This is my ironing pile. Well. The two thirds of it that still fit in the basket. There’s a top in here that has been waiting to be ironed for so long that it is now too small for its original owner. (Don’t worry, it’ll be passed down to the next owner. She’ll be delighted.) The washing up is sprawling all over every available surface in the kitchen. My to-do list has spawned several spin-off lists. I could easily spend the next 48 hours cleaning and tidying and sorting and filing: all the stuff that I’d like to do in order to keep on top of things, and stay calm. With three young children in the house, I could easily spend all day, every day doing all that stuff. (In theory, anyway. In reality I’d have a nervous breakdown.)
I’m clearly not a housework obsessive, but sometimes I have to close my eyes and remember to stop trying to tidy, and clean, and sort, and just to be with the kids and enjoy the little things. When I was growing up, my friends’ mum had this poem stuck on the wall of her bathroom. It’s just a good thing to think about sometimes.
MY HANDS WERE BUSY
My hands were busy through the day.
I didn’t have much time to play.
The little games you asked to do,
I didn’t have much time for you.
I’d wash your clothes. I’d sew and cook.
You’d ask and I’d read from your book.
I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers; turn out the light.
Then tiptoe softly by your door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.
For life was short, the years rushed past,
A little boy grows up so fast.
No longer is he at my side,
His precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away.
There are no longer games to play.
No Teddy Bears or misplaced toys
No sleepovers with lots of boys.
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear.
That all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands, once busy, now are still.
The days are long and hard to fill.
I wish I could go back and do
The little things you asked me to do.
Obviously I hope that when the children have grown up, the days are not long and hard to fill, but filled with other interesting things instead. It is just I sometimes need a reminder of how fleeting their childhood is. Even though, when I am tripping over the lego box for the billionth time, or searching in vain for the one pink cup that is deemed acceptable that particular day, it seems to be lasting an flipping eternity.