We’re all in the car heading to Solihull for a family lunch; just the four of us.
It’s pouring with rain and we’re on the motorway so it’s difficult to hear each other speak as it is but in the back the kids are playing some game they’ve invented which seems to involve yelling and giggling as loud as humanly possibly.
It is literally impossible to have a conversation in the front.
So we stop trying.
By now the noise is so loud it’s starting to leak through my ears and is stopping me being able to even think.
I bite my bottom lip and tell myself at least they’re getting on even if getting on involves Dan pinning Mia’s head down to the centre armrest.
I’m at home on a Sunday afternoon and I’m in the kitchen pottering. All I can hear from the other room is loud football commentary, ‘YES’, “NOOOOOOOOO”, pillows being punched in frustration, the Xbox clicking and whirring and my son winning the World Cup. Or at least it feels like he must be given the amount of yelling.
We chose not to put Dan’s Xbox in his room because we want him to always be part of family life.
I’m wondering if we didn’t misjudge that.
It’s the bedtime hour and all is calm.
Except it’s not. The kids are wrestling on my bed and it seems like they’ve invented their own language because they’re yelling and giggling and doing impressions of – what I can only imagine are – WWF wrestlers grunts and victory chants.
I attempt to ask them to stop and brush their teeth but it’s like I haven’t even spoken and the noise that left my mouth has transformed into a whisper by the time it reaches their ears.
I bite my bottom lip and tell myself at least they’re getting on.
We’re in the car on the school run. Or on the way to anywhere to be perfectly honest.
We have to have the local radio station on which plays the same 12 current chart songs on a perpetual loop and the presenter’s voice and diction makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. It grates on me.
I feel and sound old.
Every other song elicits an ‘Oh I LOVE this one’ from the passenger seat and the volume button goes up another 5 notches.
I try to concentrate on driving.
I’m on the toilet. A voice yells from somewhere deep in the house, “MUM! MUM. MUM. Where are you mum? MUM?”
I explain that I’m on the toilet and can I just have a moment to myself.
No one hears that. They hear ‘what do you want, tell me right now’.
“MUM. MUM. MUM!”
I flush, I go downstairs. “Can I have some toast?” “Couldn’t you have just waited for me to finish? Couldn’t you have waited for me to come downstairs? It wasn’t exactly urgent.”
“Well I didn’t know you were doing something. Can I have some toast anyway?”
This is my life.
My noisy, chaotic, brain-jangling life.
It’s never quiet. I never have peace. I haven’t had peace since my son first brought his smile to our home nearly 13 years ago. Then his sister followed and it got even louder.
Life; loud and annoying and intrusive and nerve-rattling.
They never seem to stop. I’m always rushing to get out the door or driving someone somewhere or eating on the hoof or a million other things that make my head pound.
I sit down to read my book only to remember I’ve forgotten to wash Dan’s rugby kit for tomorrow/filled in Mia’s school visit form/made the packed lunches/got anything to put in said packed lunches.
But what about when they go? What about when they leave home? Will I crave the quiet life? Will I cheer for all the time I have?
Or will I wish to god I’d not let the good times pass me by by wishing them away?
So I’m not going to. I’m going to enjoy my crazy-ass life with both arms open wide and let my kids be as goddam noisy as they like.