My valet, chauffeur, dog-walker and commis chef all had a day off last week.
Bloke went off to the south before sunrise on business, without so much as a single chore completed.
Instead of hopping straight out of bed into a hot shower, then settling down to do my make-up in front of Sian and Bill, I had to step into wellingtons and a cold, cruel world, trudge down the garden, let the chickens out and give them their feed, then take a cross-legged dog for a pee and pooh walk, picking up his five-a-day (you read it right; five) with baby’s nappy sacks.
And after all that, readers, I had to make my own cup of tea AND my packed lunch. Sans personal veg chopper, salad prepping took so much longer. Then I had to drive my own car. And walk from the car park. I got to the office feeling I’d already done a day’s work.
When I told Bloke his absence had made me appreciate all the little things he does, he didn’t appear grateful.
He said: “Welcome to my world” and stared at the ceiling with his best long-suffering expression.
I was being sincere. I know I am Lady Downton these days. And looking back on my downstairs, single mother Ethel’s life, I don’t know how I did it all.
True there were neither chickens nor dog, but there was another creature to tend. No small matter of a sleepy-eyed child to roust, rollock through the bathroom ablutions, force-feed Honey-nut Loopz, chivvy to finish his homework and bundle into the car (a bit like now happens to me).
We were always running late, me and Boy. Usually I’d be at the wheel with one eye on and the other naked, whipping the mascara out at traffic lights (yes, officer, I do now know it’s stupid and illegal).
Boy never blinked, apart from the time(s) I nearly crashed. I think it was good training, though; it gave him an understanding of stressed-out, multi-tasking women which will see him in good stead when he marries one.
He had plenty of opportunity for observation. I was a divorced lone parent for 15 years.
I paid every bill myself (always on red), did all the cooking, shopping and cleaning solo, and carried out all the tasks I now designate as man jobs – emptying the bin, mowing the lawn and moving heavy things – and all around a full-time job.
That guff you read about single mothers leading the lazy life of Riley on benefits? Don’t you believe it.
There are millions doing it like I did. Doing it all because it has to be done, and without really thinking about how much of a responsibility is sitting on just the one pair of shoulders.
It’s only now, from my feather-cushioned vantage point, that I can see how hard it was.
We don’t want medals, but we do want to think it’s going to get better. That a lovely, gentle knight in very shiny armour, can of Mr Sheen in one hand, duster in the other, is going to gallop into your life and love you so much, he’ll share life’s burdens and understand that you have earned the right to cry ‘feeble woman’ when the stepladders need carrying downstairs.
I am a big advocate of husbands smart enough to realise that consideration and pushing an Asda trolley make him more, not less, of a man.
They are marvelous things to have in your life, especially if you can get one with DIY skills – and should be available on prescription.