My legs hate me.
I can’t blame them. Four children and a past job teaching toddlers to dance means that they’ve been abused over the years. I’ve taken the ability to crawl around on my hands and knees and crouch a lot for granted. But now my legs are starting to protest at their cruel treatment.
My knees ache as I kneel on the floor. The right one in particular will painfully shout as I put pressure on it. The left one just clicks and cracks. Just? It makes me feel ancient. A creaky old body at 39.
My calf muscles meanwhile long to stretch out. At this point in time I’d happily submit to a rack to allow them to re-align with the concept of NOT being constantly scrunched up. The trouble with spending my days with a little person is that I’m constantly scrunched.
It doesn’t help that Noodles is a terrible sleeper. He also will only get back to sleep if he’s cuddled back to sleep. Now, there’s a rod I’ve made for my own back, but when sleep is a premium the Gluestick approach is to go for the easiest option in the short-term and never mind the consequences. The consequence here is that I end up sleeping curled up in his teeny tiny bed. It’s surprising how easy it is to fall asleep in it myself. But I then wake up with my calves in agony. It’s not a great feeling in the early hours as I hobble my way back to my own bed.
It takes some strenuous warm-up stretches pre-run not to suffer with shin splints when I run*. (*Pathetically slow jog.) Just as I was thinking of abandoning pounding the pavement due to the hell of it and just accepting that I’m fat, today I actually managed not to end up reaching for the paracetamol. It’s taken five weeks, but maybe it can work. Maybe my trot around the quieter stretches of town gives my calves a chance to re-explore being their full length.
If only it wasn’t so short-lived.
Even a trip to the pool with Noodles this lunchtime meant that I spent an hour crouched in the water, stuck down the shallow end due to swimming lessons in the deep end. After half an hour I was ready to sign up for classes just to be able to unfurl and stand up in the water.
So, a day spent with my legs flexed yet again. Crouching to talk to Noodles, kneeling to play games, to tickle him around the floor, to retrieve to toys from under the sofa and to pick up dropped bits of food. When I get to sit down I instinctively curl my legs under me on the sofa. God only knows why. My legs make it clear that they don’t appreciate me doing it.
By 5.30 it’s a relief to be stood cooking in the kitchen.
It’s just a bastard that the pans are in a bottom cupboard. Ooh, ah, ow.
Erect again I stand chopping veg for the ratatouille. The radio’s on. I’m by myself.
Along with the constant crouching comes the constant chatter. ‘Mumma. Mumma. Mumma.’ We talk about buses and trains, ducks and fire engines. And trains. And the swings and how Boo is at school and others are at work and baby Teddy crying, even when he’s not. We talk about what’s on TV and what to have for lunch and the garden. And trains.
I love the chatter, Noodles’ excitement at his world and his utter glee. His stream of consciousness is, mostly, sunny and bright and so lovely. His eyes twinkle and my heart melts.
But at the same time he doesn’t tend to nap during the day any more. So that’s a solid 12 hours of chatter. Cooking dinner is a chore sometimes, but also a sanctuary.
Until I hear the pitter-patter of footsteps down the hall. ‘Mumma. Mumma. Mum-maaaaa.’
It’s never ‘Dada’ is it? Even when Dada’s in charge.
Instinctively I duck down behind the kitchen cupboards. I’m a mean mummy. I’m literally a hidden dragon! And my legs complain about squatting again. But, oh, I just want some peace and quiet.
‘Mum-maaaaa. Where are oooooo?’ The little voice gets closer. I hope that if he can’t see me he’ll think I’m upstairs and Husband can deal with him.
Except he’s a clever little boy and knows where I’m likely to be at any given time. He’ll know if I’ve gone upstairs to use the loo or if I’ve gone into the kitchen. I have to sneak out of the house if I’m not taking him with me. My behind-the-cupboard hiding place was ridiculously ineffective. Footsteps from carpet to tiles, I heard him rounding on me. ‘Boo!’
Crouching, hiding, neither has served me well. But they’re intrinsic parts of my day.
Lying in bed in the evening with Noodles finally asleep is bliss. My legs are straight, for now, but still nagging me. My mind is still as I tune into trash TV. For now.
I’m sure there will be more crouching and hiding tomorrow. I hope my legs don’t punish me too much.