Something is not right in the house. The house, once tidied,. has stayed tidy. Toys have been returned to the playroom and stayed there, instead of reappearing when I turn my back to litter the floor. The carpet, once vaccumed, has stayed clear of crumbs (I wouldn't go so far as to call it clean...). The kitchen is clear of detritus and everything has been put away soon after it's been used. The noise levels have reduced to a minimum - for a change, I can hear myself think.
Not only that, I have raced through to-do lists like there's no tomorrow. Items that often take me days to tick off have disappeared. Used to finishing only a few tasks each day, I write a to do list for each day but yesterday, I ran out of tasks to do - and managed to find two more to finish instead. My to-do list for today, whilst short, was completed early.
This is unheard of. This is unprecedented. So what has given rise to this new, organised, domesticated calm that has descended upon this house? Have I been reading self-help books on how to organise my life? Have I been offered money for every task I get done? No.
The answer is quite simple: I am the only person here. The rest of the family have gone camping. They left on Wednesday for a holiday park somewhere near Southport. Not far away if things go horribly wrong, but far enough away to be not here. They're coming home sometime today - although they were already contemplating a late departure, so it's unlikely I will see them much before teatime. And let me tell you, it's bliss.The space in my brain normally reserved for working out what's next is free to do what it wants. Mostly, it's been focused on getting my jobs done. Oh, and maybe watching a bit of tennis. Maybe.
Instead of sitting down, and a voice piping up "Can I have a drink?" the second my backside hits the chair, I've sat in peace. Jobs have been done quickly because there have been no interruptions. No constant questions. No answers to questions that take five minutes instead of a few seconds.
A long time ago, I used to live in this house alone. It almost seems weird that I ever did - just me in a big four-bedroomed house; but I did. I think that it's actually way too big for one person but maybe, just maybe, I was just a house-sitter for a few years until we grew into it and made it a proper family home. And yes, it does feel odd being here for so long completely alone now. But, for a couple of years at least, this was my life.
So, as you might have guessed, I'll be more than happy to see them again when they come home. It's been lovely to get things straight once and know that they'll stay that way. It's lovely to have space and only work to one timetable - mine. But it's also lovely to have a house full of mess (sort of) and laughter. Full of random utterings, giggles, cuddles with a large dose of frustration thrown in. My God, I've changed. I'd have never thought I could enjoy the chaos that is family life. But I do. It's been blissful to have space and peace for a couple of days but I'll be ready for them when they return. The children will get a huge hug when they come back. I might even make them a cake. It's just the washing I won't look forward to.
And you know what? For all the peace and quiet, I still can't drink a whole cup of tea hot. Perhaps that's not the children's fault after all...