I've locked the bathroom door.
It's unheard of in our house. How dare I invite privacy and relaxation into my exhausted body and mind.
How dare I be surprised with the wrath of anger bursting from a child being separated from its mother, as they thump heavily on the door, experiencing all levels of anxiety and injustice for ultimately, as they see it, being ignored.
The reality is, two of our three children are sleeping off infections and my back has finally called time on me. I'm not surprised.
I've lugged these indomitably spirited young people on each hip, back, shoulder, double, triple pram for the last six years and it's perhaps time to reassess the method of unconditional "can't say no love."
Why oh why do we struggle to say no to our precious screaming offspring? It's obvious that we want an easier life. Cue the children's computer gadgets, the ones we all said we would never resort to if we ever became a parent.
And of course, any parent who doesn't leave the house armed with a bag of goodies to experience a semi-normal family outing is potentially courting major trouble.
I'm sure there ought to be a name or term for such treats.
"Darling, have you packed the keep-them-quiet-oh-God-help-I'm-so-embarrassed-QUICK-shut-them-up-treats?"
Oh yes, the child-rearing experts would have a field day with us. I'm sure we are no different to many others fighting the same cause.
Perhaps there are online training courses in developing and honing the can't-say-no-skill. Maybe it's time to accept that our greatest teachers are our children.
They flag up all the tendencies that we try to bury away under the carpet and dammit, here they are, in the guise of parenthood, superficially, enabling us to shift the blame on to them. Until, one brave day, we confess that our finger-pointing, rage-soaring levels have served neither of us any good.
It does then beg the question whether all our efforts are in fact a need to seek approval and validate that we're doing this made-up parenting thing well.
There is nothing quite like the purity, and open-hearted innocence you witness in your child.
When we are seen through the non-judgemental eyes of a young person, our hearts skip a beat. We are reminded of what it feels like to be just in the present moment. What a gift parenthood is.
My parenting world has reached primary school. The joy of social networking in the playground is unexplainable and without sounding stereotypical and patronising, you would have to be there to experience it.
I embark on a dance, locking eyes with a fellow chess player. It's here I share that I have recently become a vegetarian due to exploring the sometimes-cruel nature of animal farming. It's a light topic to open up the five minutes as we wait for our children to be handed back to us.
Those that know me know I like to talk. I like dialogue. I like the exchange of heart-to-heart words.
Oh here I go, waffling poetically, but joking aside, it's something that I strive to bring to my environment, albeit a busy superficial playground.
As I move into my second year of school etiquette, I have found some extraordinary women, the kind you only dream of meeting throughout your life. Such brave, diverse stories that unfold in these warrior lives, these women, who when I mention my inability to drive my children to work, due to intense back pain, without a second's pause, they are on my doorstep carting my children to school and offering a second service of food essentials should I need it.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Lately it has been one health scare after another. What seemed like a simple catalogue of blood tests to check levels of fatigue turned into a concerned call from my doctor over higher levels of potential ovarian cancer markers.
When you have children, any news in the direction of cancer delivers a thunderbolt of fear, shocking the entire body into blind panic.
The main voice from within resonates and calls out "I can't leave them now. They are too young."
Thankfully, I am able to organise a speedy visit to a very elegant gynaecologist.
After initially inviting me onto her examination bed, she threw me a wonderful compliment: "Oooooh darling, you do look after yourself!" Followed immediately by a firm slap to my thigh and: "I bet you love your spaghetti bolognese at dinner time with the children."
Somehow, the compliment has shifted from praise to reminding me to perhaps have fewer carbs, mummy!
Ultimately, it's neither here nor there. I received the good news and everything is as it should be. Panic over. And as I lie here, treating myself to a luxurious muscle soak and some cathartic self-reflection, I realise my session is up.
Time to unlock the bathroom door and assume my usual role. I have appreciated this moment, and the value of writing, nourishing and, dare I say, therapeutic.
Acknowledging that the very nature of parenthood brings forth an inexhaustible amount of bravery, strength, wisdom and growth. Whoever thought so much clarity could come from so little 'me time'?
What I know for sure is this: a natural ability to say "no" to your children is truly admirable and to those of us, still learning how to master it, I say the same.Suggest a correction