We’re coming up to halfway through January now and, despite my best efforts, it seems the first month and I are getting along no better than we usually do. Relations between us are frosty. But it isn’t really frost that is the problem. It is the endless rain.
Sunshine has been in very short supply this Winter. I can count on one hand the number of crisp, clear mornings of wonderful Winter sunshine that we’ve had. Most days have been grey and wet. Not only does that have a negative effect on the old mental state but it also means more days faced with that awful dilemma: stay home or face something hideous like soft play.
Last Sunday we opted for staying at home. Big mistake. But I was hungover and it was raining so it seemed worth a shot. The kids started off behaving OK, well all apart from the toddler that is, but he never behaves so that is nothing new. Things started going downhill with the older two by about 11am. There were endless unreasonable demands, bickering over next to nothing and lots of noise of the very moany variety.
Three kids on a hangover is grim at the best of times and Sunday certainly wasn’t the best from any point of view. It was one of those clock-watching days, working out how many hours had to be endured before bedtime, which came early in the end as we had really lost our shit by then.
We did manage to get outside for a while when the clouds parted for half an hour after lunch, to give the kids a chance to practice on their new bikes. It didn’t go well. H was in a flat panic about falling off, M was moaning about being too cold to hold the handlebars. T is going through a particularly challenging phase – his reign of toddler terror is peaking – so he threw a flid and point-blank refused to leave the house at all. He then spent the majority of the afternoon watching Thomas the Tank Engine and scowling. If we dared to to suggest an alternative activity he went beetroot and howled.
M rallied after a while and started doing pretty well on her bike but H became a ball of anxiety, as he often does, and started crying and wailing. It was lucky it started raining again really, so that we could escape the frustration of it all. I know there is a lot to be said for sensitivity but there are times when I wish our kids would just bloody man up a bit.
Rain or no rain, January can be a total bastard. It isn’t helping my healthy eating and drinking plans. It started brilliantly and I did really well last week. Lots of fresh vegetables and no alcohol from Monday to Thursday. I was getting ready to dig out and polish my halo. But Friday came round and the wine flowed. Sadly, it didn’t stop flowing until Sunday. And with wine, you obviously need all manner of snacks, especially when you go out and get so drunk on Saturday night that you find yourself having slowly collapsed in a small heap on the floor of the pub, after losing balance while looking for your lost cardigan. Classy. Well, Dry January is for losers anyway, right?
Still, I’m not going to let my health plan failure worry me too much. Sure, I still need to get back to some sort of pre-Christmas level but, with January still here for another couple of weeks, I may be up against it and life is too short to beat myself up for minor failings. The kids are still making it to school on time looking vaguely reasonable most days. They are all fed and relatively clean. As long as I am getting the basics done, that is enough of an achievement in itself for January. Hitting the other goals may have to wait until a little later in the year.
Since it isn’t possible to hibernate in January, it is best to attempt to use this month productively. It is good for planning, after the mayhem of Christmas. I’ve been planning fun things like crazy and filling up the diary beautifully, to avoid a repeat of our hideous Sunday. And, very excitingly, my best mate and I have just booked a holiday for the Easter break. Four kids and us in a cottage in Dorset for a week. No husbands. We are planning to rock the lesbian couple look with our four feral offspring. My mob all know and love her and her little girl so much that it will be like she is the second parent to them for the week. We both have free rein to tell each other’s kids off and treat them as our own, so there is no trouble on that score. It is going to be ace.
My birthday party planning is coming on apace too, with invites out for M’s dance-based party next month. She is completely in love with pop so she is going to adore it. I’ve even booked H’s April party. I’m on fire, birthday-wise, which is pleasing.
To be honest, I know I’m being pretty unfair to poor old January. The trouble I have with January isn’t January’s fault at all. It is mine. It is my habit of sinking, especially in mid-winter. Of being dragged down by something as daft as the weather and the short days. It is my failure to adapt quickly enough to the reality of Winter without Christmas sparkles. Experience tells me I’ll get there, it just takes me a little longer than most people.
This crazy wet and warm winter weather does at least have the advantage of bringing on all the Spring flowers, which are popping up everywhere, bringing hope and expectation with them. Snowdrops, daffs, primroses and even crocuses are poking up all over, whispering of the coming of Spring.
Once January has turned into February, what is it that changes anyway? Nothing in real terms. But something changes in me as we creep towards the end of Winter and lighter, brighter times. February feels much more friendly, much more bearable.
I think January and I are just going to have to agree to remain uneasy companions. We may never be buddies. But we can live with each other for a short while. We have to for another two weeks, until February makes that light at the end of the tunnel look a little brighter.