16 January 2012
How it is
You go to bed full of resolve. You think about the kids and your heart is squeezed with love and your mind is full of failings: the shouted words; the sarcasm; the hug you didn't give; the impatience you felt when they all wanted something; the way you handled the whingeing today; the lecture you gave; the listening you didn't do.
And you know, because you've been told and told, and also because you see it before you, that all this will pass, all this will be gone, all this is fleeting. And there will be a time very soon that you long for those warm bodies to press into yours, that you ache for sticky hands to touch your cheeks. You know that little body breathing beside you in the night won't always be there and that you will forget the squashed night's sleep, the kicks in the midriff, the whack of a small arm across your sleeping face, and will instead remember the nose pressed against yours, the kiss right on your lips, the snuggle into your neck. And you'll long for it in the way you can only long for something that has gone, truly gone forever.
You try to be there, right there, just where you are, but you find yourself flying ahead to the dinner uncooked, the meltdown in the offing, the bickering about to explode and you hear yourself barking orders, corralling, threatening, counting to three until compliance is achieved.
You imagine a day when everything is smooth and easy but you know that is not how it is. How it is, is bits and pieces. An argument between siblings is as water off a duck's back to them; as nails on a blackboard to you. A hug between siblings, an invitation to join a game, a shared story, a joke told, is as common as mud to them, as precious as gold to you.
One day when you get home from work you know that instead of four voices clamouring to tell you of their day, to climb on you or beg to be picked up, to hug you or to ask something of you, you will be greeted by silence, or absence. And instead of saying 'just let me take my coat off' or 'I really need to go to the toilet' you'll say 'hello? anyone home?'.
And yet, and yet, this knowledge that settles on you in the nights, when the house is calm and the children are asleep, falls away in the dawn. This resolve to slow down, to mind less, to talk less, to judge less, is but a flimsy thing. It is shored up by darkness but is unable to withstand the bleaching effects of the sun, the noise of children's voices and the weakness within.