Belfast Telegraph

Why being a mum is really about seven loads of washing at 4.37am

By Claire Harrison

There is surely no greater symbol of a mother's love than sitting up all night comforting a sick child - while simultaneously cleaning up the aftermath of all it entails. I usually don't have much time for the philosophical rubbish you see posted endlessly on Facebook, but my attention was caught by one share about the importance of being a mum and how its habit of ruining your body doesn't matter because "there is no greater honour, love or blessing". The overall mantra was too cheesy to repeat, but one line lodged in my mind.

"I've been peed on, vomited on and spent sleepless nights cradling my child, but I wouldn't have it any other way," it said.

The post swam into my head when I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing a carpet at exactly 4.37am. My poor daughter was suffering from a stomach bug which had seen her sent home early the day before. She threw up in the car on the way home - and so began a long night which disappeared in a blur of sprinting to the bathroom, comforting and back rubbing, loading up the washing machine and cajoling the patient back into bed knowing her next sprint is just 15 minutes away.

I took several coughs directly to the face during this time, but motherly love helps you fight away the fear of who those germs will take down next. In fact, you tell yourself real mothers welcome the opportunity to share in any suffering.

The breakthrough came at that moment when I found myself cleaning the carpet in the dark and a small finger emerged from the gloom to declare: "You missed a bit." I knew then she was on the road to recovery. And sure enough, the whole household finally got some respite at around 5am when things settled down long enough for the ailing one to sleep.

I, too, drifted off just in time for my phone alarm to spring into life as usual at 6.30am when I got up to survey the aftermath. Once upon a time, pulling an all-nighter was a source of great fun and staggering out the next morning to look at the damage was the sign of a good party. Now real-life dictates that an all-nighter comes with seven loads of washing, one dodgy carpet, one grumpy pre-schooler and zero opportunity to have a lie-in to compensate.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Duchess of Cambridge who got some flack this week over reports she and Prince William are to hire a live-in maternity nurse to help when their second child comes along.

They eschewed the Royal tradition with Prince George but have now apparently changed their minds for number two. And who can blame them when you think of some of things not one but two small ones throw at you in the middle of the night?

At least when I was on my vigil, I didn't have to worry about being papped the next day with bags under my eyes and god-knows-what in my hair.

What Catherine might miss out, though, is the unrivalled feeling of protectiveness and duty you get from attending to a little one's every need when they're sick.

It's also a reminder that while they grow up fast, they still want nothing other than their mummy in the middle of a long night.

So who knew that never a truer word would be written amidst the schmaltz on Facebook, as there isn't a mother in the land who hasn't been peed on and taken it with grace and understanding.

Novel twist has us on tenterhooks...

Harper Lee was in danger of going down as a one hit wonder - until this week's spectacular news that she has written a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird.

The announcement has sparked a groundswell of joy from fans of her original classic from 1960 which won a Pulitzer Prize but was never followed up. Now Lee (88) is bringing us back to the Finch family of Alabama in Go Set A Watchman which is told through the eyes of an adult Scout.

We won't know if the short novel (which Lee actually wrote before To Kill A Mockingbird) will live up to the hype until it's published in July - but its writer can at least be assured every lover of the original will buy it. All 40 million of us.

Why I've got a beef with Morrissey

Morrissey - what a complete idiot. As if the self-indulgent, misery-soaked music he pumps out isn't enough of a reason to dislike the man, he now seems to think you can demand respect for vegan views by imposing it on thousands of others.

The theory that he is merely upholding his principles by banning the sale of burgers and hot dogs at his upcoming gig at the Odyssey in Belfast is complete nonsense. It's the act of a dictator.

Despite a long-standing aversion to Morrissey, I was once sorry enough to spend an evening at one of his concerts in Belfast. And the undisputed highlight of the night was the 12oz steak I demolished in a nearby restaurant beforehand.

Belfast Telegraph


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