Earlier tonight, the boys were having a bath. I had washed their little faces, washed their little bums and now, I was just letting them play. Sitting beside the bath, in an effort to multi-task and shorten the crazy to-do list that is my life, I was attempting to read a Good Weekend (not today's issue – ha! I'll get caught up reading that in, say, two more weeks?) when a little hand batted the magazine aside. There was Zee, his sweet face looking expectantly at me. I passed him a bath toy and resumed reading. Once again, the little hand batted the magazine away, leaving a little wet imprint of disapproval on the page. Again, there was that little face, expectant but also, wow, that's judgement I'm seeing right there!
"Okay, little mate," I said, putting the magazine down. And then, I scooped water in a little sieve and holding it aloft, we watched the water trickling through, Zee lifting his hands, those sweet, chubby little fingers reaching to catch the drops as they fell. LD joined in. And as I scooped more water and watched my beautiful sons delighting in catching it in their hands, I was struck by the simplicity of real joy. All my sons ask of me is to be present.
There are moments when they are just contrary no matter what I do, of course. Days where I can play dinosaurs for at least an hour longer than I personally would have liked (so, for an hour) and when I finally beg off, there are tears and outrage. Some days, it seems like no matter how much I give, it is never enough. But mostly, if I am honest, my boys are most easily pleased when I am there and involved.
Both boys have picked up the supremely annoying habit of spinning the desk chair when I am sitting in it and trying to work on the computer. I'll be typing away and suddenly, I feel myself being tugged in another direction. The more I resist, the worse the fallout. Both boys attempting to turn me away from the computer is about as subtle a message as a frypan in the face: they don't like it when I'm on the computer. And the reason they don't like it is because of my propensity to tune out when I am. From their perspective, I can see how it might look. Mumma's back is turned and for seemingly long stretches of time, she doesn't look at or talk to us.
In Mumma's defense, sometimes Mumma is well aware that she is not looking at or talking to her kiddos. Sometimes Mumma doesn't want to look at or talk to her kiddos.
But then, there's a moment like tonight that reminds me that sometimes the simple shared moments are a joy for them and also, a joy for me.
As time goes on and more children are added to the mix, moments of 100% alone time become scarce to non-existent. There gets to be a cumulative effect and the result, at least for me, is the feeling that I am being sucked dry by the constant wants and needs of the family. Then there is the crushing weight of things to be done; bills to pay and bathrooms to clean; forms to fill out; errands to run; library books due back; shit, we're out of milk; birthday cards to write; I must call my dad; the garage needs to be cleaned out; feed the cats; fuck, I can't see the garden for the weeds; I must write in Zee's memory book; LD needs a new hoodie; those pants need hemming and am I really going to read last Saturday's copy of The Age now?
More than anyone, I think I need those simple moments. More than anyone, I need to watch my little boys catch water droplets in their little boy hands. I need simple.
I am only one little person and just sometimes, the pressure of this job, this title of Mumma, gets to be too much.
Each night, I am renewed by one simple ritual. No matter the day I have had, no matter the exhaustion, the demands, the meltdowns, each night when I check on my boys for the last time before bed, I am renewed. I straighten blankets, tuck each side in. I listen to the breath shift ever so slightly, pause as the little body resettles itself. And then I just stop. I just stop and there in the dark, I watch the face of my child as he sleeps. Just for a brief moment, some nights longer. And even though it may wake them up, I reach down to stroke their perfectly smooth foreheads, kiss them goodnight.
I feel the space around my heart swelling and I leave their rooms with this feeling, as though my chest is full to bursting.
Every night, I am renewed.