I LOOK forward to the end of January as much as I do the end of December.
While the anticipation of December and the welcome arrival of family from inter- state for the festive season is lovely, I am now convinced the eagerness for January to end and have them all go home is so much better.
This gives me a wrench of guilt, of course it does, but oh, how I long for the end of this month, when the much-loved family members retreat back to their own homes and I can...tidy up.
As a 'mature' woman (okay old) living with a 'mature (old, definitely) bloke, I don't fuss too much about tidiness but I do like an ordered household.
We do the dishes quickly, put the washing away as soon as it's dry, make the bed within half an hour of getting out of it, enjoy uncluttered surfaces - it's not pedantic tidiness but it's reasonable orderliness.
So with the household number expanding dramatically during December/Jan- uary and that number inclu- ding many children under the age of six, our fragile tidiness regime has fled the building.
In the beginning we tried valiantly to enforce things.
"Children, pick up those damp towels please." That worked...once.
"Darlings, can you please not leave soaking wet swimsuits on the new carpet." Didn't work at all.
"Angels, you know I love you, but I don't like sitting down on the couch to find a Barbie Doll's missing leg embedded in my posterior." Completely ignored.
"Sweethearts, your grandmother tends to slip on marbles scattered on the floor and that's not going to be pretty." Much laughter.
"Lovelies, I really do insist you don't leave banana skins, nectarine pips, melting icy pole remains and Crunchie wrappers on my sofa/bed/coffee table." Brought insincere apologies.
"Children, how many times do I have to ask you to not shove apple cores into the top of empty lemonade cans and leave them on the dining table next to my floral arrangement? It detracts from the lilies." Got weird looks from this one.
"Sweeties, what the hell is this?" (This question is applied at least a dozen times a day when I pick up a detached dolls head/Thomas the Tank coal carriage/ dancing robot arm/one of Frozen's plaits.)
Like so many other grand- parents on the Coast, we are invaded every summer for about four weeks and while we love it and could not imagine our life being complete without it, we do so love it when it is over.
Is this normal? Don't answer. As soon as the family depart and I am not able to see them again easily for a number of months, I yearn for a Barbie Doll arm jabbing into my bum. I will want the giant plastic crocodile pool toy that sat in my gardened courtyard for four weeks to come back again. I will miss the piles of tiny swimsuits/hats/rashies/ goggles and other paraphernalia that gathers in every corner and on every surface and that is so synonymous with kids and summer.
I suppose it is all about the mix. Tidy, quiet household for most of the time, chaotic living for the rest of the time.
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