“Yes” said Ad Man, slurring, from 100-plus miles away.
"It’s 3am. I’m trying to sleep.”
“Yes, but listen – it’s our tune…!”
I groaned and buried my head in my pillow while the muffled tones of Michael Buble told me that I was his ‘getaway car’ and his ‘Everything’..
First the pleasure, then the pain.
I guess it was inevitable that after managing to sneak off alone with Ad Man to France, I’d pay for it when I returned.
After a glorious week of beach walks, seafood and Chablis, we’d come home to the usual mayhem of dog, cat, dead fish and kids - and the realisation that Daughter’s A level work was not exactly on schedule.
I’ve never been one of those mothers who gets very involved in the minutiae of their children’s school work – but even I could tell that Daughter’s past week had been more about boys, parties and Facebook than the Cold War and Hamlet. There was nothing for it. I needed to take her away from all distractions so she could recover some focus.
Our self-imposed exile was in Devon, at my mother’s house. For four days. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of anywhere else that would be free – well in monetary terms at least. It meant four days of biting my tongue and trying to limit my mother’s wine intake. I hoped one day Daughter would thank me for it.
The plan was that I would take the dog, and Son G would go to his Dad’s house – so this meant Ad Man had four days to himself – probably for the first time since we’d all moved in together.
“What are you going to do?” I asked, before we left.
“Not much. Probably watch a box set of Glee, sit alone on the sofa and miss you.”
I gave him a big hug. “I’ll miss you too.”
“Or I might phone Simon..” he added casually.
And there it was. Of course, Ad Man had already spotted an opportunity to make the most of his freedom, and was planning to do what any young man with a Saturday night to himself would do..
“You’re going clubbing?”
“Mmmm,” he replied, feigning distraction. “No, I expect we’ll just have a BBQ and watch some Top Gear together.”
I could hardly complain. After all, Ad Man gave up his friends, his curry house, and his nights at Watford’s Reflex to come and live with me on the south coast. And while he has embraced his new role as a suburban step dad in the same good natured, sunny way with which he meets most challenges – he inevitably misses his friends and his old – well, young – life at times.
Tempted by blondes and Tinie Tempah
And so, late on Saturday night -while I was trying hard to relax in my mother’s guest bedroom, surrounded by more floral decoration than Chelsea flower show could boast – Ad Man and his mate Simon were in central Southampton downing a cocktail of lager, sambuca, lager and sambuca, and dancing to Tinie Tempah surrounded by a host of 20-year-old peroxide blondes.
I trusted him completely, I just wished I was there too. Not for the blondes and the Tinie Tempah so much, but just to be able to dance with him, get a bit drunk with him and have a laugh with him – rather than having to be the grown-up, at home, supervising the revision progress.
The fact that he was out indulging in youthful pastimes, just emphasised the dichotomy I so often feel these days; that while one part of me is growing older and has the responsibilities that come from being a parent of teenage children (something I wouldn’t miss for the world), the other part of me still feels young and rebellious and refuses to accept a life of slippers ,TV suppers – and floral wallpaper.
Which is why, when he called me from our living room at 3am, to play ‘our tune’ down the phone, I wasn’t angry – just frustrated. Frustrated that I wasn’t there to dance to it with him, as we did on our wedding day, and on that lovely, crazy night on the Isle of Wight, in a deserted restaurant, where they didn’t mind that we took over their music system and played it over and over again.
The older I get, the more time I need. I need time to work, time to be a parent, time to be a friend and time to be a lover too –and there just simply isn’t enough of it to be all of those things. I want to be a good parent above all, but I also want to dance with my Ad Man too…
The next day, mission almost accomplished, Daughter and I packed up the textbooks and the dog, waved goodbye to my Mum and did the three-hour drive back home – to find Ad Man still in bits.
“I think I’m getting old," he said looking pale. “My body just can’t take the late nights and booze anymore.”
“Rubbish,” I said. “You’ve got years of partying left in you. Maybe you just went a bit heavy on the sambuca.”
“Maybe,” he agreed, but wincing. He clearly wasn’t ready for the mention of liqueurs quite so soon.
Then I pulled out our slippers, and we both gratefully settled down for a night in together, in our own home, with supper, in front of the TV. It seems there's only so much dancing and drinking even a toy boy can do..