…I officially take my hat off to you. I refer actually, more specifically, to the single mums. Those who look after their offspring, day and night, with no respite. My question to you ladies is; HOW?? How do you manage it?

Seriously, I’ve only got solo parenting duty for three days this week, and already on Day 2, I’m tearing my hair out.
I can almost imagine the Big Brother style narration to the day so far…
‘Day Two in the house and already, L is showing signs of distress (cut to footage of L trying to shower whilst DB2 tries to open the bottle of toilet duck and then tries to clamber up the toilet seat itself. Then, follow with some footage of her trying to serve breakfast to two angry screaming children, because it hadn’t arrived quickly enough. Apparently twenty seconds flat to pour apple juice, chuck two weetabixes in two respective bowls, whilst dealing with the inevitable fall-out if the wrong colour bowl gets assigned to the wrong child, then add honey, milk and bibs, just isn’t quite fast enough…Then conclude with footage of L shrieking with panic as she sees DB2 disappearing up the narrow attic stairs. He’s 11 months old by the way. He knows how to get up, but his method of descending is to simply peer hopefully over the precipice and drop himself over. I managed to catch him before he got to the top. But only just.)

Anyway, after a fairly stressful morning managing two irritable children, I decided that a good idea would be to just get out of the house, head out to the museum, and have a nice ‘treat’ to cheer everyone up. So out we headed in the baking heat into town, to the brilliant (and more importantly, free) museum in Exeter. At first, all seemed to be going to plan. Ok, so DB2 felt it necessary to o not one, not two, but three poos (I had literally just enough nappies. Another dump would have been a very problematic bridge too far.) And DB1 kept having the urge to bolt maniacally down the corridor, making strange squeaky noises as he went. But, other than that, tickety boo. We gazed at animals, hummed and haa-ed over bugs and birds, and oohed and ahhed over Roman helmets (yes, really. You could try them on! Cool, eh!) I then offered Db1 a choice. This was my fatal error. I asked him if he would like to go to the cafe then and there for a drink, or go later on for lunch. Naturally, DB1 being a toddler and into immediate gratification, he said now.

The issue occurred not in the cafe. That was all fine. We all enjoyed our juices and had a nice chat. No, the problem instead arose when I mentioned at midday that we should now go home for lunch, as we couldn’t afford lunch after the drinks.

Jesus Christ. I mean, bloody hell. I hate to blaspheme, but f*** me the tantrum that followed this announcement was just immense in the extreme. DB1 started with just an average wailing session. This continued until we left the building. Then the real fun started. The wailing increased in volume and tempo until I’m fairly sure anyone within a ten kilometre radius could have heard it. DB1 then launched himself on the floor and rendered his tiny form as awkward as possible to pick up. (you know how kids do…where they contort themselves in such a way that it’s like picking up a slippery bag of wet sand). So I had to fireman’s lift him to the library, up an enormous steep ramp (again, in boiling heat) where I had to drop in some flyers for the MIL. Yes, I had to do the walk of shame, all eyes in the quiet library boring into us angrily as I crossed the floor, trying to steer the buggy one handed whilst dragging a screeching DB1 with the other. By this point, he’d gone into a strange, almost incantatory state, that went a little like this…
‘DON’T WANNA GO HOOOOOOOOOME! DONT WANNA GO HOOOOOOOOOME! DONT WANNA GO HOOOOOOOOME!’ etc etc.

The tantrum continued until about ten minutes from home, when Db1 suddenly quietened down and asked me, quite angelically, as though he hadn’t just spent the last half hour making the most godawful noise I’d heard in quite a few years, whether I was cross or not.

I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. By that point, I think I had actually gone insane.

How do single mums do it? Day in, day out? With no respite and no one to shoulder the responsibility? And, more importantly, no one to moan to in the evening??

I salute you, ladies, whoever you may be!

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