I am building up a catalogue of injuries and scrapes and breakages as my boys tumble wildly through their pre-school years. My hair is going grey around the temples faster than I like to admit, and now that Bean is almost three I can hardly blame my squishy middle on 'baby' weight any more. As each mark, dent, scrape and scar gets added to my mummy exterior, I can't help but wonder if this is what 'becoming real' feels like.
If you added up the injuries I have picked up from doing things with my kids, you might think I'd be put off taking them swimming or operating hot ovens in their presence. After all, I've grated the skin off my knuckles and received a black eye this weekend alone. Not to mention the glamour of walking around with globs of butter stuck to my shirt or in my hair. This week I actually managed to leave the house with a perfect little 'O' of porridge right on my chest (and by chest, I mean boob), where Bean gave me a cuddle
But that's the best thing about having small children. The more you love them, the more beautiful you become. The scraped knees, bumps on heads and perpetually bruised limbs - all mine, never mind theirs - don't matter. Because generally, by the time you are a mother of small children, all these things have happened over and over again. Just remember, that the grey hairs and laughter lines and shabby clothes don't matter. Because to your children, you can't be ugly when you're showing them love.
Last weekend our swimming trip was to celebrate my rather lovely other half's daughter turning eight. We've been dating now for over a year, and I can attest to the fact that while I continue to parent alone (we don't live together) DP makes lone parenting a lot less lonely. The fact that he comes with two additional small people of his own as part of the package is just the icing on the cake.
As the boys get older and more capable I have moved on from letting them take turns to stir the batter, to allocating them proper tasks. This time, Sprout was in charge of breaking the eggs. This is the most exciting job, and the most risky. We only lost one egg to the floor this time, which is pretty good!
Adventurous Bean requested the job of grating the carrots for the carrot cake, so I gave him a tiny nutmeg grater and a carrot stick to have a go with (health and safety mum-panic prevented me from handing over the enormous cheese grater he was eyeing up. Which I promptly grated my own knuckles off with instead). As usual, Sprout saw the job through while Bean got diverted as soon as a bit of sugary butter made it's way into his mouth. But everyone gave their full attention to the magic bit of baking.
The magic bit of cake making is when you stir in the love. It's something my mum used to do with me, and I remember my nan telling me when I was little - cakes taste better when you add a little love. So we do. We stir in love and add a wish to the mix at the end. Of course, the enthusiastic stirring means that the cake mix gets everywhere, into ears, stuck in hair, all down clothes. What remains in the bowl is slopped into a tin and we all watch the gooey mess rise through the glass oven door. Once the smell of baking has floated through the whole house to the top floor, the boys know the cake is ready.
By that time I've usually managed to find myself a plaster, apply arnica cream or burn ointment, or other first aid to myself. Made a cup of tea and enjoyed the fact that my sharp edges are a little bit closer to being totally rubbed off.