I had such good intentions before I had children. I was going to combine all the excellent things my parents did for me, with all the excellent things my grandparents had done, mix in everything admirable I'd seen with friends and other family members, combine generous dollops of advice from parenting books, and somehow emerge as the number one super-parent of all time. Dream Mother, here I come.
Needless to state, it didn't quite work out that way.
Dream Mother was tireless, working with a smile on her face at all times. Calm and caring, she put her children to bed then tidied the house, sorting laundry and washing up, ensuring that sink was shined every night before slipping between her clean and sweet smelling sheets.
I shuffled the girls into bed then sat down with a large cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie. Leaving the mug and plate by my chair I crawled into bed, knocking over last night's water glass as I did so.
Dream Mother took her children for a walk every single day, no matter what the weather was like, fresh air and exercise being an essential part of childhood.
I sit Little Fish on the windowsill so she can watch other children getting fresh air and exercise and I can grab a snooze on the settee.
Dream Mother made meals so appetising and filling that her children never needed to snack between them.
I give Little Fish a bowl of chocolate sprinkles and call it hand function therapy.
Dream Mother sat up all night when her children were ill, mopping foreheads and rubbing stomachs, stripping soiled bed linen and sluicing it by hand before putting it into the washing machine and sorting out the bed with gleamingly clean fresh sheets, staying by the child's side until they are asleep again and waking hourly to check on the child throughout the night.
Unless the child is wide awake and miserable, I mop the worst off, cover the soggy sheet with a fat fluffy bathtowel, set a CD playing low and crawl back into bed ready to deal with it in the morning.
Dream Mother has such perfectly raised children that they never play up overnight anyway, but if her child did have sleeping problems she would again be willing to sit up with them, night after night, until they worked through it together.
I hit the repeat button on the CD player and hope for the best.
When nothing else works and the child is disorientated by the hour change as well as being uncomfortable post operatively, Dream Mother sacrifices her sleep and enjoys one to one time with her child, appreciating the smiles and giggles she gets in return for her efforts to entertain the child.
I sit the child beside me, fire up the laptop and write a list like this.