Where did I sign up for the indentured servitude that is picking up everyone else's undies, wee-sodden pull ups and a shipwrecked flotilla of toenail clippings from the bathroom floor?
Times goes at a different rate in the country. It seems only yesterday that we drove out beyond the M25, and the cat pooped on my lap, and we began our new life in a house of flies and dirt and no door-handles. It was actually ten months ago.
Are you a working parent like me? Then you will know that I don't have time to write this piece. And you really don't have time to read this piece. Seriously, go away and do something on your endless mental or written list of things-to-do. Still here? Ok, let's peer in to what your daily life might look like...
What has changed most for you in the last 20 years? Chances are, it's to do with family: maybe you have started one, or you are caring for one. Maybe you have gained new family members or you have suffered a loss? It's possible you are in a blended family situation, a single parent one, or your family has a dual income.
At 38, I was a freelance film director. After a short relationship ended, I found myself single, pregnant and broke. I decided to have the baby and raise him alone. Years after my son was born, scrolling though an old Nokia, I found that I had unwittingly archived a three-year dialogue of text messages between my son's father and I.
When you live with three teenagers, you are always the first in bed. You are programmed to sit up trance-like at 2am, jump out of bed and do a check of bodies in beds - and, if bodies are missing, conduct the same check hourly thereafter. This was a shock - a return to broken nights from the exhausting days of Baby-has-a-cold.
I'm ready to stop because I work full-time, which means I have to make time to pump breast milk during every single work day, and this is not easy. In the past year, I've been on a dozen business trips, which involve incredible planning and logistics to leave enough milk at home, and to pump and travel with dozens of ounces of milk.
Whether you deem it as a social family building trend or simply the scientific ability to navigate around Mother Nature, "traditional" surrogacy is not a new concept. As a matter of fact, it is the only form of assisted reproduction that dates back to biblical times. The story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis chapter 16, is the most notable example.
Attachment parenting doesn't acknowledge capitalism or patriarchy as deities the way mainstream parenting does. Attachment parenting (the practices involved in) supports a woman's right to understand how her body works, how powerful she is in the life of her child and in wider society and how awesome her biology is.
I spend my working life helping organisations deal with disruption. I focus on the media and entertainment industry these days, but I've covered sectors as diverse as health, energy, transport, and financial services.
Sleep deprivation is a key cause of Toddler's Back, when you have kids you just don't get to rest like you used to - fact. Our daughter is no fan of sleeping, and despite being a perfect little angel (well almost) during daylight hours, she turns into something of a diva at night. It was during a particularly difficult night time shift this week, when my Toddler's Back really struck.
Here is the contradiction: Society wants men to spend more time with their kids and families (believe me, at least once a week I get a comment like "Oh it's good to see daddy being in charge" when in public), but employers and government do next to nothing to support them. I believe we need some fundamental changes here...
At midnight I look up at the screen to see Big Ben, haloed in light, wreathed in the smoke of rockets and bangers, keeping stern watch over the city I called home for almost thirty years: so close, yet so far away.
Having received a card from the middle-aged couple a few doors along, next week we're having a little soiree for the neighbours - all except Dead Bob Willis and his invisible wife, obviously. As I drive home from Homebase with a boot full of planks singing along to "Rebel Rebel" it somehow feels Christmassy and normal.
Sean's spots are healing, Emma making friends; Lynda is working in London today. The house is "coming together" (as in, it's no longer falling apart). The roof of the summerhouse is secured with tarp and screws. There's nothing useful I can do alone. Nothing for it: I must write.
Neither of the kids seems traumatised by their first day at Straddlewick; we heave sighs of relief. Then, at tooth-brush-time, Emma says Sean was called names by an older boy in the playground.