The DHL driver, once such a regular visitor, hasn't rung my doorbell in weeks. My porch has been devoid of packages and "Sorry we missed you" slips. Have I been shopping less? Have I heck. No, no - what's occurring here is something very special, a rare and magical window in time and space, the moment between dreaming and waking, a never-to-be repeated alignment of forces within the universe.
In short, The Princess is at nursery a few days a week, The Bub has stopped requiring constant feeding and is content to be lugged about in the Bjorn and Master C is pretty happy with anything, as long as there might be an ice cream in it for him at some point. All of which means that I have once again discovered real life shopping.
Recently, I made my first visit to H&M in, literally, years. I don't mind admitting that I was excited - too much so, maybe; I was flitting from rack to rail like a butterfly, drunk on colours and styles and textures, too inebriated to actually take anything in and ending up so overwhelmed that I was underwhelmed. Gutted! Am I seriously going to leave empty-handed? And then I saw the dress. Love at first sight.
But I'm out of practice. The khaki or the blue? The 10 or the 12? These decisions are easily made late at night on a laptop in blissful post-bedtime silence (buy 'em all, try 'em on at home, use the free returns system to send back the rejects) but in a shop, with banging music and Master C agitating to go on the Bob the Builder ride irritatingly placed within eyeshot, not to mention The Bub, attached to my front and making it impossible to gauge an item's suitability by holding it up against myself in the mirror, I'm getting frazzled. I prefer the khaki but it's only available in a 10. Years of pregnancy and post-natal heftiness have warped my perceptions. Am I a 10? Surely I'm a 10? Is Bob the Builder a 10? What??!! Bob the ...?? Oh god, yes, yes, in a minute!
I need to distract Master C from the Bob thing. "Honey, which one do you like? Which one should mummy get?"
He looks, considers. Looks confused. Then his face brightens. "Me do eeny meeny mamma," he says.
He gets as far as "catch a tiger by the toe," and stops. A broad smile spreads across his face. "That not tiger mamma, that leopard!!" He laughs and laughs, slapping his chubby little thigh. "Me like that one," he says pointing to the khaki. He is still laughing as I pay for it, still chuckling when we get to the Bob ride. I am so in love with him, I let him ride on it twice.