Our house was hectic growing up. I have four brothers (I'm the fourth child.) When my Mum was pregnant, I'd been praying it would be a girl. So when it was another boy I naturally had a tantrum and lay on my bed facing the wall not talking to anyone. I regularly had wrestling moves performed on me (FYI 'the walls of Jericho' really fucking hurts), there were full-blown scraps. I would put toothpaste and shampoo in my Brother's beds when they fucked me off. I used to place the toothpaste inbetween their two pillows not realising that the only person who suffered from this treatment was my poor Mum who would go to wash them and find the minty-fresh residue awaiting her. We had one computer (oh the horror of it) where we would each have our own accounts. We were limited to half an hour each (15 minutes of it spent waiting for the AOL to connect. I can still hear the sound of the dial-up now if I close my eyes.) We had two controllers for the N64 which meant alot of arguing over who was going to play 'Goldeneye' next. My Mum had the strenuous job of separating us when the fighting turned into punching, eye-gouging and trying to pull hair out. There were no mobile phones, no Facebook, no Instagram. We all lived in the moment. Like most families we had a regular camera that you put film in. There was none of this repeatedly taking the picture until you get it right nonsense, you just took it and hoped for the best. My Mum has hundreds of pictures of years of memories dotted about everywhere in photo albums and a big basket under the stairs. Most of my pictures are stuck on my phone for me to sit and look at when I have no internet data and I'm stood awkwardly waiting for someone unable to browse Facebook or Twitter or when I'm not with my Daughter and start feeling soppy and sentimental and want to reflect on how much she's grown up (mental note: print more pictures!)
Summer was filled with caravan holidays, obstacle courses, pogo-stick competitions and water slides in the back garden. I used to take great delight in going on the slide and taking a wee in the dip at the bottom that people would land in (it's the little things *smug smile*) For a few years we would hire out a bouncy castle for the day and invite everybody over. A breakdancing competition would ensue to Run DMC vs Jason Nevins "it's like that" until the bouncy castle imploded on itself. We were banned from one holiday site due to my brother and cousin mooning the site owner. Dens were built behind the giant fir-tree in the back garden. The ice-cream van would come chortling along everyday and we would be told "there's choc-ices in the freezer" because buying five children screwballs and nobbly-bobblys every day wasn't really financially viable. My cousins all lived on the same estate so it was constant exploring of the fields and back lanes and shitting on neighbour's doorsteps and ripping up vegetable patches ( I never partook in any of this; My Mum was very protective of me and tied tights around the gate so I couldn't escape or I most definitely would have been shitting on doorsteps if I'd been told to)
Christmas was (and still is) my favourite time of year. Although I knew Santa wasn't real from the age of 7 (and then proceded to tell my whole class at school- cue crying children with their hearts ripped out.) the magic was never ruined. Home Alone and Home Alone 2 were always on the TV
(never Home Alone 3-who the fuck thought it was a good idea to make Home Alone 3?!) Me and Carl would attempt to stay up all night on the 23rd so that we were tired for Christmas Eve. It never worked but we loved eating crap and rolling ourselves up in quilts, trying to knock each other down by smashing into each other. Christmas morning we would all wake up eagerly with our sack of presents at the end of the bed. Our 'main' presents waiting for us downstairs. We all sat in the exact same place every year. There was always somebody that accidentally had more presents than the others. Everybody would act delighted when they had the obligatory selection box and socks. There were never any fights on Christmas. To be honest, when I wake up with my Daughter on Christmas morning and it's just her sat opening her presents, I feel sad. I can't quite put my finger on why but Christmas never feels quite 'hectic' enough for me.
That's when I understand why my Mum had more than one child. Not just because she was hoping at least one of us would be successful enough for her to retire on (I jest Mother, I jest) but because despite the brutal fights, constant washing and buying of toilet paper, the memories I (and my brothers) have of growing up in this big, bloody mental family unit are incredible. I look back on my childhood with fond memories. It still doesn't make me want more children but it encourages me to try and make my Daughter's childhood as fun as I can (I am permitted to lose my shit sometimes though.) When she wants to go to the park or go puddle-jumping, conker hunting or on her scooter, no matter how much I want to scream "NO I'M GOING TO PUT MR MAKER ON AND YOU WILL WATCH IT BECAUSE I'M BLOODY KNACKERED AND CAN'T BE ARSED" I do it (most of the time) and I don't sit on my phone or take constant pictures to post to Facebook because I want us to live in that moment, creating memories that are technology-free just as I had the privilege of experiencing.
The Kitschy Mumma