I was thinking about heaven and hell recently. Not in the religious sense, more in terms of my own personal hell, or vision of heaven. You see – the infant spends a lot of time awake in the small hours, and indulging in these deep thoughts as I jiggled and rocked him one evening was a good way to pass the time. (I can also list all 50 US States alphabetically, name every country I have been to in the order I visited, and am close to working out how many times I have been on a plane… the things you do to keep sane at 3am …)
So, I decided, Catyn’s Heaven should be some glorious desert island, taken from the old Bounty ad, complete with some good novels, nice cocktails etc. But I’d miss the kids and the husband, so they’d have to make regular appearances, and be available (and well-behaved) for selected outings. I’d need to be able to do some shoe and bag shopping, so a few department stores, and perhaps all of Kildare Village, would be a short hop away. Not a desert island then, but a cross between Acapulco and Oxford Street. Also, I am very fond of knee length boots, but am not sure if they would work with a bikini (even with my heavenly bikini body and perfect tan) so there would need to be some cool crisp weather, and while we’re at it, some roaring fires and a Christmas party or two. In actual fact, when I got going, my Heaven was almost impossible to pin down.
Hell was easier. Bouncing on a gym-ball trying unsuccessfully to wind a screaming baby seemed like a good place to start. But, I thought, a true Hell would need to be so much more. I remembered reading about Dante’s Inferno and his 9 circles of hell, and that gave me more to work with. An eternity of burping (or rather, not burping) an infant in the small hours, having only had 90 minutes of unbroken sleep in many weeks, definitely qualified for one of my circles, but there should be another 8. Endless toddler tantrums made the grade, as did certain aspects of childbirth. I included some form of queuing, maybe for some bureaucratic reason – and to complete that circle I added tired and hungry children with me as I queued. Making a mess of parallel parking while a whole pile of people look on and laugh (a recent painful experience) was a circle of hell for me. Some of my eternity would be spent on a runway, or in an airport holding pen. That left me with 3. There were still lots of options, but the 3 that made the grade were; a never decreasing pile of ironing – really fiddly ironing, getting stuck on the M50 with 2 screaming kids, and the finale…. ah yes, trying to find car keys which have been hidden by a toddler whose memory only stretches to her last wee in the potty.
So, there they were, my 9 circles of hell. Shortly afterwards, the infant gave a huge burp, and immediately fell asleep in my arms. I got back to bed and discovered that an eternity of winding had actually only been 30 minutes. I climbed in beside my nice warm husband, and as I drifted off to sleep, realised that every one of my circles were just frustrations (except possibly the parallel parking, endless attempts at that would really, really be hell). With two beautiful children, a lovely home, and a warm husband to hold onto at night, it may not always be Heaven, but it’s a far cry from Hell.