Despite having been back at work for a couple of weeks it felt like Tuesday was the first day that was just ordinary. It’s been wonderful to have family visiting, and to squish a million and one things into our weekends but it was time for a little reality and a chance to find the pattern of our days in this crazy new routine.
Fridays are our errand days, we go into town to go to the shops, and to singing, and then spend the afternoon getting everything ready for the weekend, and so Tuesdays get to be more of a play day.
We spent the morning tidying up around the house. Elma had a little snooze while Kitty and I tackled the laundry mountain; Kitty loves finding her clothes in the pile and running them into her room, and for the most part she’s pretty accurate; and then I let her loose on the shower screen with a baby wipe while I did a little hard graft cleaning the bathroom. I sometimes wonder whether I should do all my cleaning in the evenings so that I can spend the daytime fully focussed on the girls, but one look at Kitty’s face was all the reassurance anyone could need. She was so excited to be helping Mama, and really went for it on the bit of the shower screen she could reach, it was so sweet.
I miss these girls of mine so much when I’m not with them, that when we are together I end up wanting to do all of the things, every crazy fun idea that comes to mind or crops up on Pinterest; to be the most fun Supermum that has ever ever been, just to compensate for having to be apart, but aside from the fact that it simply isn’t feasible with the time we have available, that isn’t what they really need, or want.
They need cuddles, downtime, a chance to unwind and to take life at their own pace. Sometimes that means pulling out all of the Duplo, letting Elma chew on the big bits and helping Kitty to build the castle of her dreams; sometimes it’s as simple as playing hide-peepo with Elma around the corner of the sofa, and sometimes, it means going to a different playpark in the sunshine, with no plan to leave until the first raindrop lands, or H calls to say he’s on his way home.
Our impressive repertoire of local playparks includes a mini castle, with lots of layers to climb up and down. Kitty was in her element, off on a rescue mission as soon as we’d arrived. From what I gather, her mermaid had been captured and was locked up in the dungeon with the prince, who also needed rescuing.
Their successful escape must have hung in the balance because as Elma crawled along a wide battlement, a small face appeared in the window underneath the highest tower:
“Oh no Mummy! I’m stuck in here for forever!”
I love that Elma is big enough to go on the swings alongside her sister; they always set each other off in peals of giggly laughter.
Kitty soon wanted out again in favour of running around and around the castle, and as the shorter slide was a lovely big wide one, I tucked Elma onto my knee for her very first slide; and her second, and her third, and, well I lost count after that.
On the first go she was all wide eyed surprise followed by a shout of laughter, quickly followed by a most insistent version of her enthusiastic penguin impersonation; all beaming smiles and madly flapping arms and legs.
In the end it was the rain that cut short our playing, but we didn’t mind too much; I pulled the girls’ chairs into the kitchen, and while Elma invented “throw my toys into the washing machine”, Kitty and I poured and stirred together a batch of chocolate chip cookies for tea.
In some respects it was the perfect everyday ordinary day.
Except that while it might have been ordinary, it isn’t my everyday, not any more. I’m still in the thick of the hard days; it still feels as if my heart is being wrenched out of my chest when I leave the girls each morning, a raw ache that stings my eyes and makes it hard to breath. I flip between daydreams about lottery wins (unlikely since I don’t buy tickets) and the office becoming somehow uninhabitable in a very non-dangerous way (after Thursday I think ‘extreme cold’ could be a realistic possibility). It’s strange how empty your arms can feel even when you’re carrying two work bags and a pumping kit.
And when that is your counterpoint, it makes the days together all the more treasured.