There is no such thing as an off-limits area in a home that contains young children. A door could be locked and bolted 24/7 with a huge neon sign on it blinking “NO ENTRY” and it would mean absolutely nothing to the seven-year-old who is desperate to show you the cartwheel she has recently mastered, or the proud three-year-old who has just devoured an entire punnet of blueberries and wants to wipe the remnants of them on your white t-shirt.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve done up shoelaces, refereed arguments or listened to my daughter read whilst I sit on the toilet with the door wide open. And suffering through a nasty bout of constipation certainly isn’t the intensely private experience it used to be. One example of this was a few weeks after my second daughter was born, when my body was still enjoying some of the after effects of pregnancy and childbirth. I’d been in the bathroom for over half an hour with no joy – getting more stressed by the second as I listened to my four-week-old screaming her head off in the next room – when I finally ran into her bedroom, pants around my ankles, brought her in and began breastfeeding her on the toilet. Not the most hygienic of situations but I wasn’t exactly in a position to whack on some rubber gloves and fumigate the bathroom.
Throughout this entire unwholesome episode my then four-year-old stood a few feet away pressuring me to hurry up so we could “finish making the cupcakes”. Delirious with pain and fatigue, I was tempted to ice the half-finished cakes in the bathroom, but unfortunately our vanity unit wasn’t wide enough to hold the tray, so I reluctantly abandoned the second innovative plan I’d had that day.
I regretted our decision to have Santa bring the four-year-old a camera for Xmas when after forty-five minutes, fed up with the “whining at mummy” game, the four-year-old retrieved it from her bedroom and started snapping off photos of a red-faced mummy breastfeeding, one arm outstretched and screaming “Give me that bloody camera!”.