There are but 5 school days left of 2014. And, as is the norm with any approaching holiday, the “laces start getting left undone”, to paraphrase one Harrison Ford esq. on the subject of the end of filming.
Not in terms of the schoolwork itself. Pupils who have had experience of my classroom on the last day of term will be familiar with the Smartboard notice which directs their attention to the fact that the holiday starts at the end of the school day, not before.
More in terms of the general operational standards of my home. I can’t completely let go. That would be impossible. And it would be hypocritical to pretend otherwise, given the barney that I had very recently with the D.B.H about the housework, and who is doing what, now that we are both working full-time. But, knowing that round the corner is the opportunity to tidy and clean the flat properly from top to bottom, means that the inclination to maintain a normal standard of order…well, it isn’t really there.
Running off to my mum’s house in Glasgow for Christmas week raises a dual problem, however. On the one hand, I could accept that, in the period while I am in Glasgow with my daughter, until the DBH joins us on Christmas Eve, the flat will have all the hallmarks of a man living the single life again for four days. I could accept that, when we get back, a modest and tactful period of tolerance will be required before I can fasten the apron strings and get stuck in. On the other, I could pretend to myself that, before we travel on Saturday, I could somehow build a bulwark against the tide of unwashed dishes, filthy carpets, zombie dvds, and randomly placed pieces of clothing, and then go away in denial of what will actually happen.
The reality will be that he will maintain what is by anyone’s standards a reasonable level of order in my absence. I just won’t see that, because all I see when I look around our tiny two-bedroomed flat is clutter, and dust, and dirt, and failed expectations as a homemaker.
The internal voices of censure get quieter towards holiday time, louder when work gets more stressful. It’s as if, when control and order at school becomes more complicated, I need to exert it on my home surroundings. Interestingly, the smallest part of the problem in both cases – my “kids”, by profession and by blood – are the easiest to hold to account for it.
But it isn’t the sheer amount of random stuff that my daughter has, on almost every surface of the flat. Or my husband’s crumb blindness. It is my own self-flagellation that I am failing, on a daily basis, to deal with the sort of duties that my mum managed ,with three kids and a husband who worked ridiculously long hours.
This is all, of course, arrant nonsense. And it would not matter, then, if we were in a four-bedroomed house with an attic, a garden shed, built-in wardrobes, and a kitchen bigger than a Rangemaster fridge freezer. The same bullshit would be swirling around my head like coffee dregs in the sink.
Recognising all this, however, will not make it go away. And I will, probably, be building that bulwark on Friday night.