With a husband who works long hours, three girls and a baby whose mummy is under strict instructions not to lift her for the first six weeks after back surgery to look after, this week has seen a steady stream of visitors to the house. The total of different mummy helpers at the end of day four stands at ten. They have all been super stars and - with only one exception - Charlotte has rewarded them with plenty of cute smiles in return for their cuddles. I have felt thoroughly spoilt and looked after, as each and every one of the mummies has plied me with tea and cake. Oh, and the washing up fairies appear to have moved in, too, as every time I go to the kitchen the dishes have been done. Thank goodness for the washing up fairies.
This act alone is wonderful every time it happens, since, as I have learned to my cost, standing at the sink really wears me out and makes my back hurt for hours afterwards at the moment. At the start of the week, feeling frustrated and sorry for myself at how little I could do post surgery, I desperately wanted to wash up the previous night's dishes before anyone turned up at the house to help me that day. What on earth will they think of me, still having dirty dinner plates and saucepans out, I thought.
Lesson #1 of the week is that good friends really don't care if there is washing up in the kitchen. If they are there to help you out after a back operation, they are really happy to do it for you if it means you will go and lie down on the sofa with the cup of tea they have just made for you.
Lesson #2 of the week is that it is pretty much impossible to feel sorry for yourself when people are kind to you. Be kind to everyone you meet is now my new mantra.
Rather than going through every detail of the week in real time, I will pick out just a few highlights, and have an ongoing Mums' Oscars Ceremony in these posts.
The first Oscar is for Best Facial Expression, and it goes to my friend Jo. She arrived at the house at 8 am on Tuesday morning, to help me out in the breakfast slot between the hubby leaving for work and the girls going to school. Perfect Contented Baby, spotting a new face on the scene sporting clean looking clothes (unlike her own mother, who had yet to shower or brush her teeth that day) picked her moment to swap roles with Screeching Crying Baby. Jo picked her up and cuddled her. Charlotte was sick all over the poor woman. She looked horrified. She isn't normally sick like that, I said, trying to suppress my laughter as Jo carried on cuddling her. Charlotte continued to cry relentlessly for the next thirty minutes.
The next Oscar is for Best Prop, and goes to my friend Sarah. As we met at antenatal, she is my oldest mummy mate, and, as such, knows pretty much most of the dirt on me. And, even more now in the literal sense, since, she arrived at the house to help and announced she had her rubber gloves with her. Having your friend clean all three of your toilets is an amazing and embarrassing experience in equal measures. Arriving at the house with props is something Sarah does well, by the way. Shortly after we moved into our new house, her moving in gift was to come with her Wellington boots and a load of young vegetable plants from her allotment. I have never seen her happier than digging a runner bean trench into the garden for me and I (in my then heavily pregnant state) sat and handed her tea and cake. But offering to clean my loo is something else. They were pink rubber gloves, by the way.
The final Oscar for today is Best Supporting Actor, and goes to a little boy called Toby. He came to the house this morning with his bread sticks and toys (and mummy), and appears to have won the heart of the littlest big girl by sharing and being good fun. After all the excitement of the Christmas holidays, and her big sisters back at school, she has had a frustratingly dull week waiting for our pre school to start up again. Plenty of friends popping round help out with the baby, has been nice company for me, but has been annoying for her as she has had to share me and repeatedly be reminded not to interrupt.