My husband calls at lunchtime, which is a treat after spending the morning having increasingly surreal conversations with Mayhem about Darth Vader shooting dinosaurs in their eyes.
“We need to sort out our life insurance.”
“Are you going to bump me off?”
He laughs but he doesn’t deny it. “You’ve got to stop watching Murder She Wrote all day.”
“I do not have the TV on all day.” I shout and Mayhem looks up from Peppa Pig.
“It was a joke darling.”
“Oh. Sorry.” I wonder where my sense of humour has gone. I’m guessing it went out of the window with the eight hours sleep and the time to go to the toilet on my own.
“We’re getting older.” My husband says.
“Everyone is,” I reply, but I know he is thinking about my recent big birthday.
It is rare for him to be sensible. I wonder why he has taken on this role. It might be because I have become less sensible.
“Do you think I could make money from online gambling?” I ask him one night.
“I think you could make money from doing your normal job.” He says.
“But I can’t do that. I’m looking after Mayhem at home. How can I do both?”
“You’ll have to arrange childcare.”
“But I don’t want someone else to look after him.”
My husband sighs. “Then you’ll have to look after Mayhem and not write – or just do it part time.”
I tried doing my job part time for a few months when Milk started nursery and Mayhem was a baby, but when you are interviewing the CEO of an airline or a global hotel company they don’t really think about the repercussions of moving a telephone call at the last moment. My carefully timed work schedule, based purely around when Mayhem slept, or in between nursery pick-ups, didn’t fit well with their schedule of trying to negotiate new routes or the opening of a five-star hotel in a war zone.
“There was this author who said she wrote an entire novel with her baby asleep under the table.” My husband adds.
I hate that author.
“OK I’ll just have to accept I’m not a writer at the moment, I’m looking after my children and that is absolutely fine. That’s what I wanted to do.” I say putting down the phone.
We use a rare child-free moment to see the financial adviser.
“So, what shall I put as your job?” He asks me.
“Writer” I say.
“Is that what you spend most of your time doing?”
“Err no, I guess I look after the kids most of the time.”
“So,” he is choosing his words carefully. “Shall we say you’re a Home Maker?
“A Home Maker?”
“Yes. I have to put something down – it’s all to do with risk assessment really. If you were a pilot, your life insurance might be higher, but if you’re staying at home all day, the risk of something terrible happening is quite low.”
“Mayhem pooed in the bath last night.” I say
He raises an eyebrow.
“I thought that was pretty terrible.”
My husband coughs but I plough on. “And last week Milk hit me on the chin with a Stegosaurus and it broke the skin. And I cried. That was petty terrible too. And… ”
“… Home Maker is fine” My husband says quickly.
On the way back, I am quiet. “What’s wrong?” My husband asks.
“I’m not just one thing you know. I am a whole person. You are a dad and a …” – I can’t remember what his job is – “… boss,” I say tentatively. “But I’m only allowed to be a mum.”
Later Mayhem is building a house out of Lego. I wonder briefly if I could write while he plays like this, but then he sees I am available and calls out.
“Mamma play with me?”
I become a bossy architect for the next twenty minutes and add an extra room and put in a table and chairs. Mayhem is delighted.
I am a home maker after all.