A day in the Life of Mele, UltraSuperMegaWoman
1. Up at 1:30 am. Change Charlie, keep cleanbits and dirty bits separate. Battle fatigue and urge to wake Franzy Snr while having nipples chewed on for around half an hour. Become draped in goo. Get yelled at.
2. Up again at 4:30am. Repeat. Get yelled at again. Battle with guilt at waking Franzy Snr on a work night to exercise his superior swaddling skills to truss the little feller up tighter than an inappropriate metaphor (see photo).
3. Up at seven. More poo. More yelling. Battle with guilt at asking a poorly-slept Franzy Snr to make toast.
4. Win guilt battle too late, watch Franzy Snr leave for work instead of making breakfast. Replace guilt with jealousy at having to stay home while Franzy Snr gets to swan about, interacting with real people. Eat cold toast while having nipple squashed unrelentingly.
5. Attempt to catch up on sleep. Be shouted awake 45 minutes later after sleep-deprived Franzy Snr's swaddling becomes unraveled and Charlie decides that having his arms out of the wrap = End of Everything Beautiful.
6. More nappy-changing. More feeding. Feel depressed at mountain of housework.
7. Trade opportunity for morning nap in for morning of scaling Mt Housework.
8. Reach summit. Receive guests. Make coffee, provide homemade cake, clean up after guests.
9. Walk to shop. Do shopping. Get gawked at for having tiny baby in sling. Walk home. Put away shopping. Begin to prepare lunch and dinner.
10. Drop everything. Change pooey nappy. Get pissed on. Change everyone's clothes. Get pissed on again. Change everyone's clothes again. Feed Charlie. Get pissed on again. Change third set of piss-soaked clothes in an hour. Finish feeding Charlie in the nude.
11. Dress Charlie. Dress self. Get puked on. Change most of clothes and put everything in washing machine. Wrap Charlie tightly and put to bed. Ignore screams of indignation. Return to five previously-unfinished tasks. Fight off life-ending fatigue.
12. Eat cold toast for lunch. Worry about appropriate nutrition intake from steady diet of cold toast.
13. Reach the summit of The Houseworkahorn (or Die Hauswerkahorn). Find air quite thin. Lay down to rest before attempting to pitch camp and slaughter a yak for food. Drift into dream of Swiss Alps and chocolate.
14. Roused by screaming seven minutes later. Change nappy, clothes and cot-sheets. Get pissed on. Have nipple chewed and thrown up on.
15. Keep grim eye on clock, waiting for Franzy Snr to return home. In four hours.
16. Attempt more housework, receive more telephone calls and visitors, just as Charlie seemed due for a long sleep which could be coordinated with a maternal afternoon coma. Repeat.
17. Franzy Snr arrives home. Thrust Charlie into his arms and skip freely about the house, doing all the two-handed chores which were pushed down the list during the day.
18. Cook dinner, give Franzy Snr various manly two-handed chores and feel guilty about doling out the housework so soon after the Bacon Bringer has returned from a hard day's slog. Be reassured that doing the vacuuming and taking out the garbage isn't exactly on par with the Gulag-style torture previously-envisaged for Franzy Snr. Continue to feel guilty, but less so.
19. Receive dinner guests. Battle mixed feelings of extreme fatigue and guilt at falling asleep in dinner.
20. Shouted awake for another nipple chew by Charlie. Listen to shouting as Franzy Snr performs a nappy-change and wonder why Charlie chooses to piss and puke only over his mother's limited range of comfortable house-clothes as opposed to Franzy Snr's seemingly inexhaustable supply of slowly-perishing t-shirts.
21. Have nipples chewed in front of guests. Get puked on. Go to bed at 8pm.
22. Woken by hungry shouting at 10:30pm. Overcome fatigue-induced nausea. Attempt to hold Charlie safely while being pissed on and shouted at.
23. Spend one and a half hours feeding, wrapping, unwrapping, changing, patting, picking up and putting down Charlie until deciding that since he's fed, mostly-dry and it's night, then it's time for bed. Go to bed and listen to half an hour of grumbling and screaming until Sandman finally gets off his arse and dumps a truckload of the good silica into the baby room.
Seriously: Mele is my hero. Watching the birth was like watching someone lift about half a ton of bricks in one go and doing it. Impressive, non? Watching her do the above list for a month on no more than 3 hours sleep at a stretch, for a month, is simply unbelievable. Bear in mind that the above represents the minimum of activity in a typical Mele-day. Minimum. That's not counting regular things like doctor's appointments, family commitments, the mind-bending minutiae of housework (washing machine, set, dry, hang, over, on, off, look for medicine, towel, phone, pen, puke, wipe), the baking - she regularly makes utterly delicious cakes and slices and thinks of things I can make for my lunch for up to three days in advance. In between all this she is still able to carry on intelligent conversations and continue to be the beautiful, kind and generous woman I know and love more every day.
Here's to you, darlin'.