The twins have gone to stay with grandparents for the weekend and the house is blissfully, eerily, quiet. Is this what it’s like – having an only child? Getting ready for school without distraction, without cries of ‘that’s my toothbrush!’ and ‘get out of my room!’ Would it always be this quiet with one? Or does the presence of children – like work – expand to fill the space available, no matter how many you have?
We are on our own until Sunday. Just the two of us. I’ve never had this one-to-one time before, not really. He left hospital a sickly four-month-old, the coffee mornings of my maternity leave punctuated by trips to A&E and nights spent on the pull-out beds in the children’s ward. Well before he was crawling I was pregnant again, on bed-rest and banned from picking him up. A combination of child-minders, friends and relatives looked after him while I breathed through the faint but threatening contractions which started at 20 weeks. Since then it’s been a chaotic, happy, painful jumble of babies, then toddlers, then children, with so little time for each of them.
And so we are deliriously excited about our weekend. We have planned extensively – a wish-list of simple pleasures we are rarely able to enjoy. A walk to school spent casually chatting about this and that, instead of tripping over interrupted tales. A grown-up lemonade sitting on bar stools so high we feel dizzy. Supper in a restaurant. Staying up late, stories in bed, sleeping in Mummy’s bed. And tomorrow, London. A train ride, Buckingham Palace, the Underground, the Science Museum. A hectic fun-filled day, with just one hand to hold.
I wouldn’t want it forever, but right now it’s the best thing in the world.