When my parents got married many, many years ago, my father found that he had hit the jackpot. Not only had he found himself an intelligent, beautiful and loving wife, but she had brought with her a family retainer; an invisible maid, whose name was Muriel.
Whenever he left his keys, change and used handkerchiefs in a pile on top of the sideboard, Dad knew not to worry about it. Muriel would tidy it up. Whenever he dropped his clothes on the floor in the evening instead of in the laundry basket - Muriel would tidy it up. Unwashed breakfast bowl? No problem, Muriel would get it. And so on... Over the years, Muriel became a much-loved and trusted member of our family. My mother, Dad commented could sit around, drink coffee, arrange flowers, and eat chocolate because Muriel would do all the hard stuff. And boy, did she work for her non-existent bed and board. Oh, she took a few holidays over the years, notably when my mother's 3 children were born, and when she had a hysterectomy, but mainly she was there come hell or high water.
When I moved in with Husband, I swore that Muriel would not be coming with us. Not only could my parents not do without her, but I didn't want that in our relationship; my husband could be trusted to pick up after himself. Ah, how little I knew.
However, as Husband and I have moved on throughout our life together, we have discoved that Muriel has a daughter. Who would have thought it? Heaven only knows when she found the time for a personal life, but it seems that she has children - who, for simplicity's sake, we also call Muriel (terrible to generalise in this way, I know). Amazingly, both of Muriel's daughters have made it their raison d'etre to make life easier for both mine and my sister's husbands and children. God bless them.
But last week, out of the blue, our Muriel took a holiday.
Typical, because of course I went down with appendicitus on Thursday and was in hospital over the weekend recovering from the operation (there is hell, there is recovering from a general anaesthetic, and then there is staying on an NHS surgical ward for 3 nights - more of which another time).
And where was Muriel when my Husband needed her? Off enjoying the sun in Puerto Banus, that's where. And did she rush back on my return? No, she dragged her feet and has only made an appearance today (apparently she could only get a week return with National Express), which is how I now have time to make this post. She has found us in a messier, more bedraggled state than that in which she left us, with laundry piling up and Boy #1's party to execute on Monday, but she has come back. And that is what counts.
Welcome back, Muriel.
(No potty training hints today - normal service will be resumed shortly, but for now I need to go and lie down...)