The spilled drinks.
Cheese puffs scattered on the floor like toddler confetti.
The bumped heads, stubbed toes and unidentifiable rashes.
The calls to NHS Direct and the inevitable, “You’d best go to A&E just to be sure…”
Then – “Did they think I was wasting their time?”
The nappy changes, clothes changes, channel changes.
The sticky fingers, sweaty hair, and toenails that desperately need trimming before he learns to catch small rodents with his feet.
(What will people think?)
The crying, the whining, the wailing as though some great injustice is being dealt even though I’m doing exactly what I thought he wanted.
The repetition, the tedium, the repetition.
The wooden cars driven up my legs, the tiny giraffe in my hair, the hands everywhere.
On me ALL THE TIME.
Bathe, rinse, repeat.
(Except don’t rinse because he hates water in his face.
And never repeat.
Unless you’re a toddler, in which case repeat everything forever.)
The mess. Everywhere. Walls, floors, faces.
The incomparable pain of standing on a lego brick.
(No, wait – standing on a metal biplane is worse.)
Coffee, cake, chocolate.
Must eat better. Could join the gym.
Maybe next month.
I need the comfort and calories after another aborted day out.
I’m sure he liked farm animals last week?
The noise! Shouting, screaming, banging, burping, scraping, throwing.
All when the other is trying to sleep.
Do they do it deliberately?
Why are they doing this to me?
The snapping, the yelling.
This isn’t the mother I want to be.
I’m not equal to this.
It never ends.
I can’t do this.
Each day the same.
Coffee, cake, chocolate.
The same TV shows (we sing the theme tunes together).
The jigsaws, the play-doh, the painting.
The reading, pretending, bouncing.
Did I mention the singing?
The kisses, the stickers, the Gruffalos and Zogs.
The towers, the tickles, the dancing!
The beaming grins that make hearts skip and wrinkles deepen.
All of us together, the only people in the world.
Feelings so big there isn’t enough space in the universe to hold them.
The glances to the only other person who understands what these moments mean.
And the quiet smiles that say, “I know, I feel the same.”
The mess, the noise, the laughter!
The sticky hands everywhere, on me – don’t care!
We’re tigers today, growling and chasing.
My cubs are loud and I am too.
They’re growing so fast.
I’m running to keep up.
Stamping through leaves, feeding ducks, counting raindrops.
Holding hands. Hugging.
It never stops.