Tag Archives: internal monologue


I go to bed. It’s cold and windy. I am 85% well but 15% sick so I’m cold in spite of the down comforter and the fleece blanket. I try to relax my jaw so that I can sleep. I discover I’m clenching a buttock. If I unclench the buttock my teeth lock again. Relaxing both at once is impossible. I listen to the wind.

Mabel wakes up and calls out for me. I climb into her bed. It’s much windier on this side of the house and I can’t possibly sleep. I lie there thinking about windows and gusts and the trajectory of broken glass and how far the trees are from the house. I think she’s asleep so I try to leave. She wakes up. I say “I can’t stay here, it’s too noisy. Come and sleep in the spare room with me.” She won’t. I offer up the husband like so much chopped liver: “What if I get Daddy to come and sleep with you?” That would be okay.

I go back to my bed, turf out the poor sleepy man, and slide into the warm space he left. He goes to take his chances in the room in the back on the corner with the six year old. I worry about the 8 year old who was too hot earlier and has only a thin sleeping bag over him tonight, the coldest night of the year. Will he wake up enough to pull the duvet back over himself if he’s cold? Nobody dies of hypothermia indoors, in bed, right? The heating’s still working, isn’t it? How does the heating work, anyway? Is there a pilot light? Might it have blown out? Will the house explode tomorrow morning when I go to turn on the stove? I hear the gentle hum and whoosh of the heating kicking in and can at least check dying of hypothermia off my list of things to worry about for now. I listen to the wind.

They all feel so far away, spread around the house. I wish we’d slept in the basement. Next time it’s going to be this windy we have to all sleep in the basement. B arrives back in the doorway with Mabel clinging to him like a limpet. “She wants to be with you,” he says, or something, deposits her into the big bed with me, and goes back to the noisy windy corner of the house alone. Mabel pushes her head against my cheek, throws a leg over mine, holds my hand. I put my other hand over her middle. This is how we sleep, she and I. We know how to do this. After a while I can turn over and she’ll just bump her back up against mine.

I listen to the wind. I feel guilty about B and think he should sleep in the spare room, which is at least on the less windy side. There are no sheets on the spare bed. He could bring the warm duvet with him. I think I hear him moving into the other room. I write blog posts in my mind. I plot short stories in my mind. I hear something banging and worry about what it might be, straining to listen for the next time it will bang. I wonder if it will wake the 8 year old, who sleeps like the dead. I wonder whether all our siding needs to be replaced. I wonder whether the table is blowing around the deck. I’m still cold. I pull my pyjama sleeves down and I feel the almost-pleasant thrill all over my body that means all my follicles are standing to attention, goosebumpy. I realise that my teeth are grinding to the rhythm of Take me to Church. I try really hard to relax. I listen to the wind.

Much later, I realise I’m warm, and that I’m not listening to the wind any more. I must have been asleep. I have a headache. Mabel is taking over the bed, even though it’s a queen size. I go back to sleep. There’s snow outside, and it’s minus 20 and it will all keep a while.


Stick police

Things that go through your head when your kids start playing with someone else’s kids at the playground:

Isn’t that nice, they’re all playing together.
My children are so well socialized, obviously.
They’re playing a nice game of tag.
Wait, where did that stick come from?
Oh, that’s okay, they all have sticks.
Wait now, that’s not a stick, that’s half a small tree.
Is the other parent here? He must be the man in the car. Where does he stand on the stick issue? Should I say something? Am I a helicopter parent if I wade in yelling “No sticks!” or am I a negligent parent if I don’t? Is he judging me?
Okay, they’re in teams. That’s nice.
No, wait, you can’t exclude the little one.
Uh oh. Here comes the little one to talk to her dad.


Maybe I’ll just go have a word with them. Make sure they’re all playing nicely together.

“Hi! What’s your name?”
“Sarah, this is Mabel. Mabel’s four. Are you four? Is that your brother? He’s in second grade like Mabel’s brother? That’s nice. Now you can be friends. Be careful with the sticks. Maybe we should put the sticks down. Dash, how about playing tag with no sticks? Hmm? No, you don’t have to defend yourself. Well, yes, I can see that the other boys have sticks … Fine, just everyone play nicely, right?”

Well, that cleared everything right up.
Girls against boys?
No, but, the girls are four and the boys are seven or eight and that’s three against two… oh good, she wants to be on his team…but now it’s everyone against the little one again…
I should not be policing this.
But that father is sitting there in his car.
Judging me.

He wasn’t judging me. He looked out his car window and we had a nice conversation about how you should let the children just play, but that it’s always hard to know where another parent might draw a line that you don’t. And then I decided that playing dodgeball with sticks was probably a good moment to draw a line, and announced that it was time to go home.


I want to bake something, but I don’t know what to bake.

It needs to be delicious, obviously.

But preferably quick to make and not requiring more than two bowls, max.

It should probably have chocolate in it, because if it doesn’t I’ll end up scouring the kitchen for something else that does.

It should have some sort of vaguely redeeming healthiness about it, so that I don’t feel too bad about making it (and eating it).

But if it’s too healthy, then it’s not going to qualify as a) delicious or b) chocolatey.

If it’s too healthy, or lacks chocolate, the children will not eat it.

But if it’s too delicious the children will fight over it and I’ll regret making it at all.

I could make it and hide it from them, but that requires tricky logistics.

And if I make it and hide it from them I’ll end up eating it all, which won’t be good for me.

It’s going to be pumpkin muffins (with chocolate chips) again, isn’t it?

I suppose there are worse things.

Uncharitable thoughts

My underwire is inconveniencing you? I’m so sorry. But hey, you know what, your entire self insisting on being attached to my breast for as long as it might take you to fall asleep tonight, which is evidently going to be a long, long, time, is inconveniencing me too. My last respectable nursing bra is biting the dust and I really really don’t want to spend good money on another one when their days are so (so, so) numbered, but lying down to get you to sleep in a regular bra, with its underwires all up in my face and poking me under the chin, is not much fun for me either.

Oh dear, my arm is not positioned just so to cushion your head while you nurse to sleep? Well it’s not made of rubber, so it doesn’t bend that way, and also I have other things to do than just lie here being your plaything for half the night, I have foam pool noodles to turn into lightsabres for your brother’s birthday party tomorrow.

You are disappointed to wake and not find me exactly where you left me? Well, I’m disappointed to hear you wake, because I have the stomach flu and it’s really rather gross and I haven’t eaten a thing that’s not banana for two days so I may be a tiny bit grumpy, but excuse me if you find me less than sympathetic when you bounce up in bed at 3.30 am and tell me you’re hungry, because you were offered a full and nutritious dinner, while all I had was a bowl of cereal, gingerly, afraid of repercussions.

You want to sit up and have the big side? Again? And I seem less than forthcoming? I roll onto my front and tell you to go and find Daddy?

Must be morning.

Midnight paranoia

There’s something going round the two-year-old set, and the older-kids set too, and it’s not a happy propensity to say please and thank you. It’s a mysterious on-again off-again fever, and/or an upset tummy. With vomiting. Lots and lots of vomiting.

Last night, all the day’s talk of how many times x‘s child had thrown up on Monday night, and how many loads of laundry y had done, and just how many baths it took to get the puke out of z‘s hair finally got to me and I started to think I was feeling a bit queasy. As I lay in bed, my thoughts went something like this:

… I feel a bit funny.
I’m obviously getting It. And if I’m getting it, the kids are bound to get it too. It’s not like I can maintain a healthy distance from them.
How quickly can I leap out of bed and get to the bathroom, I wonder?
I wonder if Mabel will throw up in her sleep, or wake up and call for me first?
Maybe I should put a towel under her pre-emptively. I really don’t want to have to wash her whole duvet. Why did I ever think duvets were a good idea? Stupid IKEA with their brainwashing and their meatballs.
Ooh, my brain feels sort of swoopy.
I wonder is that because I’m about to throw up, or because I’m really very tired now?
Maybe I should get a bowl or something.

[Gets out of bed. Finds red plastic bucket under bathroom sink. Pulls a few towels out of the linen cupboard. Looks at Mabel. Leaves towels on her bedroom floor, where they will be no use at all until after the deluge. Goes back to bed. Takes bucket with her.]

Okay. Now I don’t have to make it to the bathroom. But I’ll still have to wash all Mabel’s sheets. What if Monkey’s the one who succumbs first, while I’m all busy shoring up defences for the wrong child?
I don’t have an actual pain in my stomach, just a funny feeling. Will it hurt more before I throw up? Is that how I’ll know in time?

Oh. Now I’m awake. Maybe that’s because I’m about to throw up.
No. Hmm.

[- Waah. Mummy?]
[Gets up. Goes to Mabel. Brings bucket. Gets into bed with Mabel.]

Okay, well now I’ll be on the spot and can surely intervene before she throws up. And the bucket is here for both of us. And the towels.
Hmm. Now she’s on top of me. So when she throws up we’ll both be covered in it. Ok, there, I’ll just move her off.

[Cough, cough.]

Now, is that a pre-vomit cough or a cold cough? You’d think I could tell. Is she sitting up? I think it’s just a cold cough.
Now she’s behind me. So it’ll go in my hair. I’ll have to wash all the puke out of my hair before I can go back to bed. I don’t want to do that. But I’m too tired to move, and she’ll wake up if I do. So I’ll just lie here and think about whether I’ll have to shampoo it or if I can just rinse it. It’ll be really stinky, though.
Look, it’s 2am. I should really be asleep by now.

Huh. I’d forgotten how many large statues there are in the sea along the coastline from Dalkey to Monkstown. You can see them all from this train I’m on. There’s my school, look! What are those Indian people doing in those buildings? They’ll be caught when the tide comes in…

There’s Monkey getting up. Is he going to tell B that he’s sick? But, hang on, is that daylight coming through the curtains? How is that possible? I only just fell asleep a minute ago.

[Squints hard at the clock, which is just near enough to make out very fuzzily with myopic eyes.]

I think that says 5:59. Maybe he’s not sick.
I don’t actually feel quite so funny any more. Maybe we’ll all get through the night. Maybe I don’t even have to call off the entire weekend’s activities after all.

[Mabel sits up. Mabel does not throw up.
– I want to go downstairs.
– Okay, you go and see Daddy.
Rolls over. Groans. Returns to strangely watery train line.]

Thoughts on a storm

Let’s go out on the deck and blow bubbles!
Yay bubbles!
Ooh, those are some dark clouds way over there behind the trees.
And that’s a lot of wind all of a sudden.
And maybe we should just go inside now before the storm starts.
Yep, here it comes.
Eep. I didn’t know those trees were that bendy.
Let’s just go down to the basement in case there’s a tornado* or something.
Oop, there go the lights. Let’s not stay in the basement. I don’t think the baby finds it fun down here in the dark.
Maybe we’ll just sit here on the stairs away from the windows.
I think it’s going over.
Yup, that’s it.
What a lot of branches there are on the lawn all of a sudden.

Let’s go out to dinner.

Hmm. Still no electricity. What a fun adventure.
Isn’t it funny how it’s cooler and brighter outside the house than inside?
Even though the temperature has dropped from 100 F since the storm. To, ooh, 95 or so.

Well, we can’t see any more so we may as well go to bed.
Monkey, why are you still awake? You don’t like the dark? You need me to lie down with you for a while?
You’re a million degrees and you insist on keeping your duvet on you and you want to cuddle up to me. I cannot do this. Get your leg off me.
What do you mean, “You just have to live with it”?
You need to pee? Great. Let’s go to the bathroom. Use your flashlight.
[Cries from offstage]
Okay, now she’s awake so I have to go. Sorry.
Go to sleep, baby. I know you’re hot. We’re all hot.
[Noise of Monkey’s flashlight clattering to the tiled floor of the bathroom and sending batteries scattering. I wonder whether he managed to pee first or not.]
Come on, baby, we have to call in the troops.
[I take miserably hot and tired baby to husband’s bedside, where husband is pretending to be asleep.]
You need to help Monkey pee.
[I leave with baby.]
Go to sleep, baby.

Maybe it’s cooler here on the nice wooden floor. Aaah. Nice wooden floor.
Hard wooden floor. Maybe the bed’s not so bad.

How come you’re asleep? It’s too hot to sleep. I can’t sleep.
[I toss.]
[I turn.]
[I write blog posts in my head, compose packing lists for upcoming trip, think about shoes, and muse on names** for the third baby we’re not having.]
[Baby wakes up.]
Go to sleep, baby.

Aaand now it’s time to get up. Look, still no electricity. How exciting this is.
Let’s go out for breakfast and Internet access.

*We live in Maryland. Tornadoes, while not unheard of, are pretty rare. It’s not Kansas out there, Toto.

** There are no more names. We’ve used them all. No more babies, then.

Internal monologue

Time: 5.30am or so
Day: Any day you like (but I don’t)
Venue: The place where the baby and I are sleeping, which is not, in fact, my bed.

Pad, pad, pad, go the little feet, coming closer.
Stumble, stumble go the little legs, falling over my feet as I frantically wave him to the side where the baby is not.
“Morn-side, please,” goes the completely unnecessary stage whisper.

Me thinks:

Je. Sus. Christ. [I rarely take the name of the lord in vain, having grown up with a mother so old fashioned that I couldn’t even say “God!” without getting a Look, and having moved to America where in fact such things are often frowned on, and having two small children now who will repeat anything they hear, especially if it’s juicy and unusual and seems to be naughty. Viz, to wit, the four-year-old who turned to me in front of our new neighbours the other day, just as the lovely lady was pouring us some lemonade as we watched my husband borrow their lawnmower to cut the grass at the new house, and exclaim: “What the heck is going on here?!” because his friend at school has started to say it. Anyway.]

What is wrong with you? Can’t you stop for one second to look where you’re going and see where the baby is before you trample all over us and wake her up, when she’s only just gone back to sleep after her 5am wakefulness and session of mumeet?
Okay, okay, here it is. [Gingerly rolling over, praying baby doesn’t rouse, longsufferingly offering up other side to voracious child.]

Stop poking me. Stop pinching me. Don’t even think about touching the vicinity of the other one. This one’s yours. The other one is sacrosanct. In fact, all of me is sacrosanct, except that one bit you’re currently orally mauling. Get that hand down. Down. Off me. Away. Why are your nails so sharp? Hasn’t anyone cut them recently? [Oh right, that would be my job.] They’re sticking right into me. Get your pointy knees out of my tummy. My bladder has been full since 4am and it’s not getting any emptier, since if I had gone to the bathroom before you appeared the baby would have woken up and called out and that might have hastened your appearance, and now that you’re here I can’t even move to look at the clock because my bodily presence is the only thing keeping the warm ball curled up at my back in a horizontal and inactive condition, and if I move at all she might realise that it’s not my front and therefore her instant access has been cut off and – worse! – given to the opposition, and then she would immediately demand it back and all hell would break loose.

This is really very uncomfortable… Hmm. That seems to have been a dream, because I’m not currently staying in a boarding house on the coast of England with two cats who can’t be left alone and a very very short (like, a-head-on-shoes short) landlord. I must have dropped off there, against all odds.

Maybe it’s late enough to cut him off now. That’s it, you’re done. I hope him up there in the bed that is supposedly also mine has had enough sleep, because that’s it for him. [Rolls over. Luxuriates. Baby wakes up.]