I try to make Friday evenings a bit special for Jake. Treat nights we call them. Something funny on the TV, a bowl of crisps, getting to stay up later than usual and he’s a happy boy, or so I like to think. I tell myself that we’re having quality time together but in truth, I’m often either fidgeting on the sofa pretending to guffaw at The Simpsons whilst furtively scrolling through emails on my iPhone or ‘just nipping upstairs’ because I’ve remembered something really important I must do that simply cannot wait. Forgive me for sounding a tad melodramatic but you’d think that coming close to death on more than one occasion over the last ten years would have me living in the moment a little bit more. ‘Fraid not. Recently, I seem to be more restless than ever, with an unrelenting need to keep doing ‘stuff’, my brain constantly buzzing with thoughts of how I can make the changes I need, provide for us all and guarantee some kind of secure future. Not exactly Zen like trust…

Online the other day, I found several blogs with a similar theme to mine – single parents, lots of kids etc. One particular American ‘supermom’ put me to shame with her simple but brilliant method of ensuring that her brood all felt equally special. Every night in their house, a different child gets to stay up for an extra half n hour for some real one on one time with mum. I hung my head in shame as I read. I think I do okay with Jake but with the triplets it’s as though I see them as a collective little bundle rather than three wonderfully unique individuals. ‘Oh, they’re all so different,’ I proudly tell anybody who asks, ‘Yes, yes, they’ve all got such strong personalities..’ Er, how do I really know?! If I’m honest I think I’ve labelled them based on how they interact together – Ella as the tough one, Louis the emotional one and Theo the real baby of the three. If I were to separate them for a moment, forget that they were triplets, how well would I really know them? Confession time. I’ve never been alone, outside of the house, with just Theo. He’s two and a half and I’ve never taken him for a walk, for an ice cream or on a play date on his own. And the other two? Well, the fact that both Ella and Louis had minor health issues after they were born meant they had to attend out patients appointments at the hospital. Off I’d go with Ella to get her clicky hip checked or on other occasions with Louis to talk about his noisy breathing. I’d push a single buggy along the corridors of the hospital quite enjoying the novelty of not feeling like a walking, talking tourist attraction and maybe we’d stop in a cafe on the way back, just the two of us. Perfectly pleasant but hardly the stuff memories are made of…

On Tuesday night, two friends came over to catch up over a few glasses of wine. Being such a ridiculous lightweight and not really used to entertaining anymore, it wasn’t long before I was feeling a bit tipsy and after talking to them about this very subject I dramatically announced that the next day I was going to take Theo out for a treat somewhere. Just. the.two. of us. Without his brother and sister. Alone. Just saying it made me feel like a better mum and I rewarded myself by topping up my empty glass once again. I fell into bed at around midnight- a little bit worse for wear but full of good intentions for the next day. You’ve probably guessed where this is going. The following morning with a pounding head and scrambling around for the paracetamol it was all I could do to get the triplets up and dressed without falling over. I started to question my plans. Was it really fair on a toddler to expect him to sit happily in a cafe and not be bored? Maybe Theo wouldn’t want to go out with me for an ice cream on a day when our lovely mid-week nanny was planning a trip to the park to feed the ducks he so adores. I downed another pint of water in an attempt to quash the queasiness and managed to completely justify my reasons for not doing what, just a few hours ago, I passionately declared I would . I waved them all goodbye as they headed to the park, smiling brightly at Ella and Louis but avoiding the gorgeous gaze of my poor but hopefully oblivious, little Theo.

Ducks, he loves the ducks I told myself as I shut the front door and headed upstairs to see if along with my hangover, a cold shower would go someway towards washing away the guilt I felt – it didn’t. Hmmm – five out of ten for effort and could definitely do better…

Emma Campbell

Author Emma Campbell

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