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Its a strange thing but I think I am amongst many mothers who never minded being woken up in the night by their newborn babies. That total exhaustion when you have just had an hour or two in bed and are woken for another 30 mins breastfeeding whilst sitting up and fighting sleep never really fades from the memory. It is total torture. But I’m lucky I never resented them waking me up for milk. Even now when my huge boys are both teenagers, I have never mentioned this sacrifice during heated discussions about the state of their rooms or home coming times.
During those first few months most of us fight through the sleepless nights, not realising how exhausted we are. In most cases we have an animalistic instinct to be available for our babies. Breastfeeding was one of the most fulfilling times of my life and I hated having to wean my children when the time was right.
Today, I still want to feed my boys. I am passionate about family meals and we sit down to a simple home cooked supper together most nights – even if just for a few moments. TV supper is only for Sunday nights when we have had such a big lunch that we are only really having a snack. The rule is that I cook, the boys clear up and their friends have to join in too, its part of the regime in our house and since it has always been there nobody questions it (much).
Occasionally the boys opt to cook instead and since rules are rules, the same applies and its my turn to do the clearing and washing up. This is definitely the short straw. When I cook, I clear up as I go, irritatingly tidily most of the time. I make one-pot-dishes where I can. I lay the table sparingly and ensure lids are placed over microwave bowls. All this means the clearing up is quick and easy, only taking a few minutes for the kids. However when it’s their turn to cook you can be sure they will opt for something like Southern Fried Chicken and mash on the menu. This involves marinating chicken strips in spices, battering and frying in oil and boiling and mashing spuds, spreading them all over the floor. The mess is shocking and their efforts will undoubtedly set off the fire alarm, meaning the garden door needs to be opened, letting in all the cold air to the kitchen just before we sit down. Without doubt every single pot will have been used and the kitchen is bathed in grease.
But then of course, rules are rules so they are not too worried about the cleaning up job.