13 May 2015
Five kids and she lives three floors up in a Glasgow tenement.
The old toilet on the landing is shared between three families, so that’s 24 people with one cold, spider ridden Victorian loo with a flaky wall and a big key with a never ending queue and no sink to wash your hands.
Some keep it clean, some shit on the floor. Life in a tenement.
She can’t leave the pram downstairs, so she makes the four toddlers hold hands and promise to walk slowly up in front and not to drag each other. She keeps an eye on them nervously as the wee one is not great at stairs.
She bumps the big pram up all the stairs, it wakes the baby. The baby is screaming. Two kids need a pee. The toilet is being used. She promises they can use the potty when she bumps up the pram.
The toddler wets himself. The potatoes under the pram fall out due to the bumping and she sighs.
She will need to send one small kid down to pick them up and hope he doesn’t run off as she has to calm the baby, change a toddler, get the kids sat down and start peeling the potatoes for dinner.
The kids finally all get into the one bedroom flat. The baby is teething, they put her in the recess bed behind the curtain, that mammy alternates between watching the potatoes boil, keeping an eye on the sausages in the oven and making sure her two year old doesn’t drown in the sink as she washes him one handed as she holds back a toddler from the oven.
She needs to drain the potatoes, she can’t as the kids are getting washed in the sink.
The baby wakes up and all the kids need the toilet at the same time. They all take turns of the potty, and as the potatoes sit going mushy in the pan and the baby screams and the kid pees in the sink, the mammy holds in a scream.
She gets them all fed. She starts boiling water for the dishes as she has no hot running water, no washing machine and a two ring cooker with an oven. She sometimes heats up the kettle on the coal fire.
Her man comes home from work. He needs the dishes out of the sink and the hot water for a wash. The dishes go on the floor the toddlers start playing with greasy plates and knives as she soothes the baby and prises cutlery from sticky babies hands.
The kids all need washed again. She wipes them down, serves her man his tea, as she walks about with four toddlers in one room and baby on her hip.
They all need the toilet and she runs down the landing with four kids following her holding the greasy cutlery yet again and her with a full chamber pot and a screaming baby with some ripped up paper to wipe bottoms.
She makes the kids sing songs in the landing as she waits for the loo to get empty and starts the sluicing and letting the kids use the toilet. Two scream as they see a spider and she needs to change the baby.
She goes back into the flat, he has finished dinner.
She puts on more hot water to wash the dishes and to wipe the kids again.
Her man goes to the pub as he has been working all day.
She changes the baby, wipes down the toddlers and has to wait till they are all asleep before she washes herself and can manage to have a pee.
She hangs up the wet nappy’s the clothes and the towels over the cooker tucks four kids into one bed and takes the baby through to the bedroom and when her man finally comes home drunk and falls asleep, she gets to breathe out.
The baby wakes up and her husband needs a pee. She is exhausted as she has to get up at 6am and take all the kids to her mammy’s house so she can go clean the big houses till tea time.
She can’t get decent wages because she has an Irish accent and she wonders if one day Irish immigrants will be able to get a fair days work.
She hopes her kids get a decent education and maybe one day they will have an inside toilet and hot water.
Good on all the wee Glasgow granny’s and great granny’s who worked and raised kids in the toughest of times.