One of the things I've learnt since having a baby is that you get quite angry when you're stuck in the house for 12 hours straight. I’m not talking about things that make you rationally angry, such as rising energy prices or the fact that your hairdresser has made you look like Rachel from Friends circa 1995, because that is the only haircut that s/he knows how to do. Or the lies that other mothers told you in order to get you into the club of stay-at-home misery. No - we’re here to discuss the stuff on which you lose all sense of perspective, the minor issues that transform an ordinarily sane woman into a furious banshee when she is stuck inside her own home for 12 hours or more. Things like...
1. That DIY job that needs doing
It might be a picture that hasn’t been put up. It might be a badly painted ceiling edge, or a wonky cupboard door. But once you’ve seen it, you can’t stop noticing it. By the end of the day at home, it is all you can see. The house is a dump, your life is a misery and the person who walks through the door at the end of the day - perhaps thinking that he is tired, perhaps expecting a welcome kiss - is met with an anguished wail of “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST FIX THE GODDAMN COT”.
2. The baby not eating
Ah, feeding your baby. Carefully choosing foods that will help them to grow strong, promote brain development, and set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating. Lovingly preparing said foods. And then watching them scream, turn their head, push the spoon away and/or throw two thirds of the meal on the floor. My husband can't understand why I get so agitated about this but it makes me insane on a deep, primal level.
3. Whoever moved the TV remote
Compounded by the fact that they won't pick up the bloody phone.
4. The doorbell
About as welcome as a bout of thrush if it happens when the baby is sleeping, you’re changing a nappy, you’re feeding the baby, you’re still in your nightie/a towel, the person on the other side of it is not the postman. All the time, basically. (And the person on the other side of the door should KNOW that.) See also 13.
5. Automated calls
"THIS IS AN URGENT MESSAGE ABOUT YOUR -” Oh do f*** off.
6. Your mother
No? Try adding “-in-law” to the end of that. Thought so.
7. Internet problems
I've just spent 40 minutes doing this online shop while my child does her best to end her own life by playing with every plug socket, hot drink and heavy object she can reach and now it won't submit? Are you f*&^ing kidding me?
8. Vileda mop heads
To date, I’ve bought the big spongey one, the little spongey one that wrings itself out, and the floppy traditional one. Each one requires a different handle! Sometimes I like to think about turning up at Vileda headquarters with my two redundant mop handles and challenging the chief executive to a duel.
A lot of my friends listen to the radio while they're pottering about: it's the closest thing you have to adult company when you're at home with a baby. But whether it's a trendy name-dropper, the "sad-serious" tone of a host whose empathy never quite rings true, or a woman whose abrasive "MOOOORNING!" sets their teeth on edge, everyone has someone whose voice makes them dive for the dial.
The one who makes my own blood boil is an award-winning Welsh DJ who sounds as if she's permanently getting a massage. Her voice is just so bloody soft! She elongates all her vowels! She flirts with absolutely everybody! But of course, what really gets to me is the fact that she’s purring like a cat while I’m standing in my kitchen, plastered in houmous, looking at a bunch of undone DIY jobs and wiping down the high chair AGAIN.
10. Wiping down the high chair
Wiping. Down. The bloody. High chair. Multiple times a day, every day, until you despise the very cloth in your hand. And don’t get me started on the floor beneath it. "Should you sweep?" wonders my friend Lucy. "Should you wipe?" These are the big philosophical questions now.
11. Reading the comments on newspaper websites
The fastest way to destroy all your faith in humanity.
12. Jeremy Kyle
The second-fastest way to destroy all your faith in humanity.
13. Jehovah’s Witnesses
When you work full time, you have no idea how often this lot have been round hoping to read a scripture on your doorstep. It’s twice a week at ours! And there's no polite way to get rid of them so you have to be abrupt and then feel bad about yourself for the rest of the morning.
The other thing that sends me into a white-hot rage is when they stand at the exit to an Underground station, watch me lug a pram all the way up the stairs by myself and try to hand me a Watchtower magazine at the top. "No thanks," I growl through gritted teeth, wishing that the end of the world was indeed nigh and they were the first to go.
14. TV repeats
Why fob us off with stuff we’ve already seen, TV schedulers? We’re the ones who need you most.
15. Radio repeats
They only paid royalties for 30 songs, which sounds like a lot until you’ve heard each one five times.
16. The bin men
It’s a little annoying when you come home from work to find your bin slap-bang in the middle of the path to your door. It’s enraging to be watching the bin man from an upper window with your entranced child going "Bin! Bin!" and see him execute a perfect volleyball dig that bounces your food recycling bin into the middle of your garden.
17. The little bits that are still stuck on the dishes when they come out of the dishwasher
I can only imagine how furious you must be if you don't have a dishwasher.
18. Spelling mistakes in children’s books
I was actually forced to email an author the other day after spotting the word “chiwawa” in one of my daughter’s books. HIRE A PROOFREADER YOU MUPPET was the gist.
19. Anyone who is not stuck at home with a baby
Especially if you are married to them. Especially if they behave as if being stuck at home with a baby is some sort of holiday.
20. Realising you've run out of milk or bread
As much as you might hate being in the house, there is still the odd day when you’ll plan not to leave... and then this happens. Aaaaaaaargh.