Redster: Five and two thirds, or thereabouts
Cutester: Two and a half

You can’t win. The situation was explained to me carefully by Chilled Mum before I ever considered being pregnant: once you have children, you have the choice of going on holiday with them, which is hard work, or you can leave them with the grandparents and go without them, and then all you do is miss them.

I was put on the 14.00 at Kings Cross by the Cutester and her father yesterday. I’ve come solo to Scotland to celebrate Ganny’s 70th birthday, and high on my list of things to look forward to was the train journey. I was relishing being in the Quiet Coach (Coach B – no phone conversations please, and definitely no children), with my laptop, not getting up and down or having to sing or read books or arbitrate fights over stickers or retrieve squashed grapes from under the table or put back the seat reservation notices or generally apologise to fellow passengers. Especially so as I’ve been even more tired of late and a blood test shows rock-bottom iron levels, which explains a lot.

It was everything I’d imagined – no interruptions and lots of laptop time, a drink from the buffet car, then discovering all sorts of games on my mobile I never knew were there including a very soothing one in which you take photos of fish and which nearly caused me to miss my stop.

..but I hadn’t imagined how I’d feel. Ever since, too, despite enjoying sleep and time with my family that includes leisurely conversations and grown-up walks without pushing a buggy – it’s not so much that something is missing, like wondering if I left a suitcase on the platform, but something is severed. All my hair shorn off perhaps, or a lobotomy, or a limb amputated. However tired I feel sometimes – often – at the chores my children represent: I have to get them in the car, we’re late for school AGAIN; got to get supper inside them; got to run the bath; look at the time, they should have been in bed half an hour ago; blah blah blah – my world without them is strangely void.

See, once you have children you can never be happy again.

I skyped them with the help of Gandad’s webcam when we got to their house. It was lovely and I even got to read them a bedtime story, with some difficulty. Just shouldn’t have suggested eskimo kisses at the end. Not sure babyfather will ever get the marks off his screen.

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