Tonight I have had a few drinks with my friend Kate. This means probably 40% of my friends reading this will sit up and question whether it was them; another 40% of my friends (called Sarah), will be pondering which Kate to which I refer. I have friends with other names, however, it would seem I have an exceptionally high quota of Kates and Sarahs. This should tell you a) that my readership is still very teeny and b) this is pretty irrelevant so relates more to the fact that I’m currently swimming in gin.
Have you ever had a hangover that makes you wince and claim you are never drinking again? One where you recount with increasing horror as the day progresses, the night before and all it entailed? Maybe you’ve been sick. Ashamed you’ve ended up in this pitiful position through your own irresponsibility…
But none of that compares, to the hangover of doom. The hangover to end all hangovers: the hangover of the toddler-ed parent.
Last month, we went out, we had some drinks, we laughed so hard perhaps we spilt some of those drinks. It was a really, really nice time. We don’t often get the chance to go out with a group of friends so we tried to make the most of it. Our wonderful babysitter agreed to stay over so we didn’t need to worry about being prompt.
Nobody overdid it, everyone retained respectability (!) and it was just one of those nights. I have these nights stashed away in my memory like an eighties viewfinder, so that in moments of chaos, flu, vomit and piles and piles of marking; I can flick through and recall those carefree evenings, remember the silly jokes and funny stories from my amazingly witty (often clumsy and unfortunate) group of friends abundantly scattered with people sharing similar names.
I need a separate viewfinder to peruse – eyes forced wide with a Clockwork Orange style intensity – when I next think it’s a good idea to go out and drink again. A viewfinder that reminds me of the following day.
I will have to endure this tomorrow.
Demands for ‘weekend breakfast’ expectations for ‘fun outings – without walking in the countryside’, and of course ‘treats’. The same Saturday morning film of their choice (preceded by the same Saturday morning argument about who should choose the film, subsequently watching the film they have chosen and refereeing discussions about how they should watch it, where and who should enjoy it the most…)
On the day after the ‘night out’ we both enjoyed (it won’t surprise you the night out was in fact to celebrate the birthday of a very special Sarah. Obviously, a Kate was there) we decided we needed to go to town. I know, seriously!
Initially, the trip was successful, my husband needed a shirt for a formal dinner, my son needed shoes (‘how much?!)
For outings such as this, we still use the double buggy. On this particular day, we needed as many children clipped in somewhere safe to minimise the chance of one running away or getting lost. Or equally as bad, turning into a board or using the ‘floppy legs’ routine. Thus, the start of the shopping trip was a resounding success, speedy, purposeful and dare I say it (I said it…) pleasant.
My older daughter had different plans. After we entered the shopping centre, she completely refused to sit in the double buggy. ‘I’m not a baby. I’m a three’y’old gal mummy.’ At the brink of one of those tantrums where people witnessing actually clutch their chest in horror, I made a decision to lose the battle to hopefully win the war. By this time, my husband was doing the ‘I’m actually ill’ hangover routine. The one where he shakes his head a lot, sighs frequently, meddles with the collar of his top whilst looking about frantically – telling anyone who will listen that he ‘must be coming down with something’ and that he’s ‘teetering on the brink’ of something nasty: that this, is NOT a run of the mill hangover.
With the now half empty double buggy, I headed for the lift, my husband, son and eldest daughter headed for the ‘magic stairs’ (the moving escalator).
I thought I heard my name. I made the mistake of turning around to see who had called it. Slow-mo ‘AAAAAALLLIIIIISSSSSSOOOOOONNNNNN!’ Keep walking. Husband pursuing me and baby, on foot – at speed.
I made it into the lift and had to turn around briefly to press the button for my floor.
Amidst the crowd of shoppers milling about in front of me, he’s there, doing the collar thing, definitely sweating, cross and mouthing something at me… ‘Me feed?’ Nope. ‘Tea’s three?’ That’s not it. Oh god. Hang on a sec, he can’t mean that… Not today, surely! My head is pounding my mouth is dry, I still only have 80% feeling in my little fingers and yet… Yep. That’s definitely what he said: ‘She’s wee’d!!!’
The journey to the floor below was a long one. Many questions: Who saw? Did she tell him first (if she had I’d already decided I would blame him ENTIRELY). Where? How much?
As the doors opened, they were all in front of me. Husband: livid. Son: amused. Daughter: weeping and wet.
I was led towards what will forever be known as The Waterfall of Wee, cascading from the top step, gaining speed, momentum and force as it travelled towards us, mocking, taunting. Three people almost slipped on it to be told ‘DON’T TREAD ON MY WEE!’ by my grieving toddler, protective about the wee she’d had to part with.
I looked at my husband and gave him the ‘we deserve this’ look. Moving wearily toward the security guard who was holding a walkie-talkie I transported myself to that magical 80’s viewfinder of the night before; while my other self apologised profusely for the mess, warned of the health and safety risks of the ensuing urine rapids on the stairs of level one and swiftly exited to the nearest children’s clothes shop for replacement clothes. Trying to ignore the sniggers around us as Mr Security Man loudly told his walkie-talkie ‘We’ve established the fluid on level one IS urine, I repeat, THE FLUID ON LEVEL ONE IS URINE.’ we quietly pledged to each other a promise of utter solemnity and gravitas. Was it a promise never to drink again? No. Sadly not. He told me he’d listen next time she said she needed a wee, and I said I’d bring some spare clothes next time we came to town. And we both vowed we’d never again attempt to take our three children out of the house to do sensible chores with a hangover.