Is God invisible Er, let me get back to you darling
00:12 GMT, 15 March 2012
Inquisitive: Lorraine's children keep posing difficult questions (posed by model)
Weekday mornings are trickiest in our new four-children/two jobs schedule. Despite getting up at 6am, half an hour before everyone else, I’m always running late. And there’s no elasticity in our timetable to allow for the spontaneity that accompanies a routine involving young children.
So, sadly, I no longer have any minutes spare for the frivolity of my offspring’s random and peculiar questions. And in these first two weeks back at work after maternity leave they’ve managed to think up an increasing number of unusual queries, some of which would challenge Stephen Hawking — and as we all know, he’s much cleverer than me.
Obviously, any amateur psychologist will tell you this is because each child is working out how to recoup their quota of mummy moments. And while I understand they’re getting used to me going back to the office, I also know that they feel just as deprived of attention when I go to the loo, have a cup of coffee or make a phone call.
Moreover, I suspect they’re competing to see who can ask the most difficult (or ridiculous) question of all. Like the gameshow Total Wipeout, but for the mind.
They have got a bet going on it for sure. If you knew them, you’d understand my thinking. We’re talking about a trio of trouble so dedicated to keeping their mischievous endeavours secret I still don’t know who cut all the tassels off the rug (a wedding present) or where they’re storing six packets of stolen Oreos.
‘What is a vortex and what does it look like’ Henry, aged five, asked yesterday morning as I was cleaning my teeth and trying to change the baby’s nappy.
I was tempted to open my underwear drawer or let him look at the dishwasher after I’ve stacked it but there was only got eight minutes to go before we had to leave for school.
‘It’s black,’ I said, ‘Like space. We have to go now.’
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‘Can I have some chewing gum’ Gracie-in-the-middle asked, mistakenly believing I was distracted enough to say yes.
‘How long has Duke been a dog’ she continued, ‘And is God invisible’
‘Seven years and I’ll get back to you,’ I replied.
Some mornings the questions are so complicated I long for one of them to ask ‘Where do babies come from’ This is easy compared to ‘why do people lick their elbows’; ‘Where’s my favourite red marble in this tin of 1,000 red marbles’, ‘Why are my eyebrows are hurting’.
These questions are especially difficult to answer while chasing a newly crawling ten-month-old up the stairs (she makes Dash from The Incredibles look leisurely). As a result of this time-consuming questioning, I’ve left the house each morning desperate for the loo and covered in a thin layer of perspiration before dashing up the road to get Henry to school before we end up in the infamous ‘late book’.
So far we’ve made it unscathed, but I know I’ll be in the same situation as the mum who last year wrote ‘I am a bad mother’ as her reason for being late.
I need a time management expert or a mathematician (Carol Vorderman, are you listening) to step in and a) answer the questions b) find the missing minutes.
Maybe everyone, except Baby Mabel, should take a vow of morning silence, so we remain question-free and can get out of the house quicker.
But, listen, because I have one random question for you. I’m asking it out loud and wondering sadly why I have to.
You see usually I don’t read readers’ online comments but last week I suffered a bout of return-to-work insomnia, so I did.
And I was disturbed by the level of bitterness and anger aimed at this column (which is supposed to be ironic and comical).
So can I just ask: why are women so unsupportive of other women And why do we still feel motherhood is a competition
We may not agree with each other’s choices, but surely we should show some support for all the ways in which women decide to lead their lives If we don’t do this then we’ll never be paid the same as men.
We’ll never be in positions of power if we fight among ourselves and are so cruel to each other. We’ll never be able to change the thinking behind working women (those who choose to and those who have to).
Do we really aspire to raise a new generation of women who don’t go on to become politicians, GPs, teachers (or other ‘more valued’ professions than some of you consider mine to be) because they must give it all up for motherhood
Is that what we want for all our daughters Answers please.
LORRAINE CANDY is editor in chief of Elle magazine.