I know what I want for Christmas. It's one of those clocks that Mrs Weasley has in the Harry Potter books. You know the one. It tells her the whereabouts of all her family at any given moment and she is happiest when each person's little clock hand points to home.
Call me fickle - it's no worse than I call myself. A few years back, when I was besieged by small children, I would have done almost anything for them all to be out. The constant irritation of a toddler hanging off various body parts is enough to tip you over the edge. I longed for a time when they could go off without me. But now that that time is here it seems to have lost its shine.
I think it's the snow that's making me come over all Mrs Weasley. My son is in Bradford, one daughter in Ilkley, one in Harrogate and one, perish the thought, on a tour of World War I cemeteries in Belgium. And that would be fine but I have this really strong feeling that they should all be inside where it's warm and safe and nothing can hurt them. I fret that they will get stuck somewhere cold. I'm particularly worried about the coaches being able to make their way home through the snow that is falling as I type. I got snowed in somewhere once. I had a ball but it's not so much fun being the one stuck at home, waiting, powerless.
When my mum used to worry about me it was irritating. I couldn't understand why she got herself into such a flap over the simplest arrangement. I suspect I'm worse because, in this age of 24 hour communication, my expectations are far higher than hers were. I went inter-railing for a month, sent a handful of postcards and telephoned once or twice. My eldest has been gone a couple of days and has texted every day.
I know it's a mother's job to worry but I never thought that I would. I assumed, not being a worrier by nature, that I would breeze through parenthood, taking it all in my stride. And I'm not exactly pacing the floor or anything. I just have this underlying feeling that everything is just not quite right and that it won't be right until they are all safe with each little clock hand pointing firmly at "Home".
I wonder if you can get one of those clocks on Amazon?