My hand on his forehead, the rub of a small back.
Our cuddles, their laughter, my shortcomings.
All of the white noise.
She asked me how I was, ‘What’s new with you?’
‘Nothing, really – just plodding on – I’m boring! Tell me about you’.
There’s this nagging inadequacy, this desire to make light of the biggest part of me. The fear I have nothing interesting to contribute.
Nobody wants to be the mother who goes on about her kids – where did she go – how did she lose herself? So let me be the one to dismiss 95% of my day, of my headspace. After all, our story is like a thousand others, told a million times.
I am not the first or the last person to make something precious, to have my heart hang outside of me, to love overwhelmingly. It has all been done before, I know.
There’s his closing eyes and my nervous relief. The messy kitchen, the piles of washing.
All of the advice.
The jars of baby food, the fish fingers. The times I cook with someone hanging on to my leg, the mushrooms I pick out of dinners. The number of times I hear myself say, ‘Just one more bite.’
The stupid need I feel to justify my busy-ness. The birthdays I forget, and the clichés of dry shampoo and leggings. The stuff that doesn’t define me.
The heart bursting moments of pure happiness.
Knowing I could never get bored of him climbing onto the sofa and folding his small body on to my lap as I flick on the telly and kiss the top of his head.
I hold a hand, I hear about a day, I soothe a bump and wipe a tear. It’s all so insignificant, precious, important.
We spin around together and there’s this awful dizziness and brilliant fullness of love.
Later, the hypnotic sucking as sleep calls, safe in my arms as I idle on my phone and he drifts away. There’s this contentment sometimes, nestled between the boundary-testing and my frustration at one thing or another. It’s like my soul is being fed, but I realise how that sounds, so of course I don’t say it.
There are all of the moments I’ve lost count of feeling so grateful to have them both.
Then there’s the hours of worry and self-doubt. Am I doing enough? Too much? How am I perceived? Why do I care?
There’s this creeping sense I have sometimes, that I’m getting everything wrong.
And actually, to be honest, some things are boring. I have no desire to care so much about stain remover or steam mops.
Running together through the leaves outside. There’s this crunch, the sound of laughter on the wind, the freedom of these moments.
The impatience. The exhaustion. The flashes of anger: ‘Just go to sleep’, ‘I won’t tell you again’, ‘Stop that right now’.
The guilt. The humdrum tasks of mealtimes – cook, feed, clean x 3 x 7 x always.
The loss of the old me, waving – so far from where I was – the change. Wondering, occasionally, who have we become? I miss us, I miss you, I miss me.
Knowing there is nowhere I would rather be.
The teething and tummy aches. The dream piercing cries. The limits – I’ve reached mine – until the next day, the next time.
The non-stop chatter. The questions. The request I never say out loud, ‘Could everyone please stop touching me for just… half an hour or something?’
The romance replaced with bed-stealing toddlers and wakeful babies. Him and me laughing and laughing because there is no magic, no happiness, nothing else quite like watching and listening to the children you made together with all of your love.
The long afternoons and the tired unreasonableness. The car journeys with Incy Wincy sung over engine noise and screams. The hilariously poor games of Hide and Seek.
The hair grabbing, the pinching.
My tired sighs while a heart beats against mine at 2 AM and 4AM, and then again at 6.
The fears, the warmth, the bliss; set against the huge, complicated mess of my heart.
‘…But yes, I am fine, nothing much to report.’