I fear sometimes that I do not love my children correctly. When they are asleep I am suffused with maternal longing. When they are at school the house is incomplete. But often, when they are clamorously with me, I endure rather than adore them.
Bickering over who gets to sail the seas in the laundry basket; amnesia over basic vowel sounds in school reading books; rejection of anything green or vegetal in my nourishing dinner-time gloops, and a mysterious inability to flush the lavatory, subdue my proper sentiments. Half an hour after their school coats are flung across the hall floor, I skulk in the spare room craving their absence.
This cannot be right. Other bloggers write paeans to their babies, love leaking from every line. When, in motorway jams, I ponder solemn tributes to my own pair, flying foodstuffs kill off my inner poetry. It worries me. I would bore through a volcano for my children. I would brave a burning house and ride a tsunami if it spared them pain.
But the daily grind does not allow for heroic ardour. Or does it? Yesterday, to please my twosome, I sat through 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' in a deserted multiplex while 'The Artist' was screened tantalisingly in an adjoining auditorium. And it struck me that mother-love might not be spectacular. It might not even be smiling and sweet-natured. But it is heroically there each time we surrender glamour and excitement for the fulfilment of our young.
True mother love, I begin to realise, is:
Crouching behind the ironing board in the understairs cupboard during hide-and-seek.
Saturday afternoons wedged between Hello Kitty tote bags and leopard- print nail extensions in Claire's Accessories.
Keeping the eight times table stashed down a bra strap so you can be one step ahead of your 9-year-old.
Offering tireless nocturnal counselling when Emma Watson fails to reply to her fanmail.
Picking every tomato chunk off a pizza Margherita.
Painstakingly adjusting furnishings and lighting to eliminate all monster-shaped shadows from bedroom walls.
Shaving off your winter pelt for a frigid half hour of 'Fun Day' in the local swimming pool.
Surrendering a Malteser from your Christmas box.
Marching through motorway service stations bearing a beach bucket brimming with vomit to the loos.
Handpicking dolls house crockery from the matted filth in the Hoover bag
Anointing sinister itches in unwholesome places during the night hours.
Carrying sodden tissues/licked sweet wrappers/regurgitated hair bobbles in your coat pocket until you remember to notice a bin.
Playing houses inside a cardboard box from Amazon.
Being open all hours for a cuddle, even when it breaches the sanctity of your evening Beer Moment; even when 'Call the Midwife' is just starting; even when, cradling your sobbing small one, you can feel spreading damp across your new Boden cashmere.
Battling anguished imaginings when a school expedition returns late, when they climb skywards up a tall tree, when they erupt in purple rashes, that something will one day happen to them. Because the inevitable companion of mother-love is dread - of a world that would be unendurable without them.
You parents are all heroes. You just might not fully realise it. But feel free to boast of your sacrifices here so we can all admire each other.
PS Unhappily the Chipmunks survived the shipwreck. So they'll be interminably back!