I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself this week. In fact prior to writing this I was wallowing in a bag of mini eggs and a good dose of ‘woe is me’. Usually Allan looks after the girls one morning a week so I can get my work done and today was supposed to be that hallowed day. A lot of people are very envious of my online learning gig and I can understand why. Yes it is wonderful to have a job that you can do anytime and anywhere. The problem is that if you can do it anytime and anywhere this is inevitably what you end up doing. I have graded assignments from cottages in the Highlands and from a summer house is Stockholm. I’ve logged in from an internet cafe in Les Arcs ski resort and even provided detailed feedback to a student on my iphone in Belfast airport. All of this is bad enough but I usually end up working on the sofa in the evening when I would much prefer to be watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Allan and I decided that since I spend all day every day at the beck and call of our two charming children I deserved my own allocated slot of time in which I could mark assignments. This would mean that I would get the bulk of my work done in one chunk and I would have more free time in the evenings. On paper a flawless plan.
The first couple of mornings didn’t go too well. It became apparent that Allan’s idea of going out for the morning involved going for a walk lasting approximately one hour and 20 minutes. On their return the children latched themselves on to me like limpets who had been deprived of their rock for weeks and Allan slunk out of the door back to do whatever it is he does. Gradually though we honed the system. In fact I honed the system by simply leaving the house and not returning until lunchtime. I set up camp at my parents house. They have better biscuits than we do and their house is warmer so it really was a great solution.
Gradually though I have been having to wrestle with guilt at forcing Allan to take on these few hours of childcare. You see he’s actually started to be quite busy. We have a lot of business ideas but as the actual legalities of our croft are still not ironed out and we are waiting for grants and planning permission to come through we have to live on something. Allan started with his janitors job and a bit of gardening. Gradually more and more requests for gardening work began to trickle in and then a few general handyman sort of jobs. I find all of this rather amusing as I was initially attracted to Allan for his long flowing locks and rather nice rucksack rather than his physical attributes. His physique is closer to that of Plug from the Bash St Kids than Popeye and whilst there is no doubt he is fairly handy with a hammer he had previously been disinclined to wield one. At first I thought people were being kind to us (and as Allan began to work longer and longer hours and I had to look after the children and do all the housework for longer and longer periods I frankly wished they would be a little less kind) but last night I came to a realisation……
A family friend turned up on our doorstep (well actually she just came in and sat down at the table as we were having tea which was good as her presence stopped Helen’s stupendous tantrum in mid scream) with tales of a DIY emergency of an extremely time sensitive nature. She begged Allan for his assistance today and pointed out the unhappy truth that he was the only able-bodied man she could think of.
Musing over this this afternoon as I viciously pounded bread dough (yes I did imagine it was my husband a little bit) I realised that she was right. All of the men who I think of as being able-bodied here are of my parents vintage. My Dad is still a fine figure of a man but he is getting on a bit as are the parents of my friends. Of the younger men on the island one had been injured in the DIY emergency and the few others we could think of were away or busy. Whether I like it or not my husband is actually quite a marketable commodity. Believe me I know where this will end. Our unplanted vegetables are only the beginning. Already I see him as a sort of caped crusader with a tool belt holding up his pants (worn over his oilskins naturally). Old ladies the length and breadth of the island will have immaculately mown lawns and well maintained fences whilst the girls and I will be stuck in an overgrown wilderness forced to change our own light bulbs and fix our own Hoovers.
And what became of my poor students waiting with bated breath for the results of the quiz on asphyxia? I have my own parenting techniques to fall back on. I flicked on Cbeebies and let the flickering box in the corner babysit for a couple of hours whilst I got the bulk of my marking done. Who needs a husband anyway?