Earlier this week I came home to an empty house. I’d not exactly forgotten during the day, but certainly not been thinking about it, until I turned into our road and there in front of me was our completely empty driveway, a blank sea of orangey block work, where only the faint mossy outline showed where another car should be parked. The inside looked exactly as always; two odd shoes and the hoover making an obstacle course across the hallway, the stair gate shut, even though there was no one to keep safe, and a pile of post propped up on the dinner table. Everything was as it should be, except that it wasn’t.
As a half term treat, H decided to take the children north to see not only their grandparents and auntie but also a visiting set of their great-great-uncle and aunts, and while we initially thought of a day trip, it seemed more and more sensible to stay overnight, knowing that Pip really can survive without me for 36 hours. And so as I got ready for work one morning, they were packing to head north, and when I got home, they were gone.
It’s such an odd feeling. For most of the evening I think I convinced myself that the children were asleep upstairs and I was just doing some sewing while H was out at art/training/golf/hockey/pub but when it was time to go up to bed I couldn’t hide from the empty beds. It’s funny how conditioned you become; even though my brain knew that there was no one in the house to wake, I still used the torch on my phone, rather than turn on the upstairs landing light (which seems to wake Pip without fail), and still shut the stair gate behind me.
Every night before I go to sleep I check on my three little ones, pulling duvets back up around them, tucking Elma back into the bed from whatever precarious half in half out position she’s wriggled into, giving them kisses and just checking that everything’s OK and if there was one moment when I really missed them, it was in those last few minutes before I went to sleep.
Having an entire night’s sleep on the other hand was quietly amazing. I pottered around the house the next morning getting dressed at a very leisurely pace, grabbed my bag and headed for the train and a solid dose of normality. And when I got home again the car was on the drive, the noise was bursting out of the walls, and as my key turned in the lock Elma flung herself down the hallway towards me:
“Mama! I missed you”
Pip was hot on her heels:
“Mama mama mama mama mama!”
Clinging to my knees as if he hadn’t seen me in a month and as I lifted him up, snuggling into my neck and claiming me back as his very own.
It’s the first time I’ve ever been apart from them overnight, and yet been at home, and for all the sleep, and the chance to do a whole lot of sewing and eat my favourite antipasti and chocolate biscuits for supper, I know I’d always rather have them home.
(Pictures of my crazy lovely girls from yesterday in the garden because a plate of antipasti for one is too sorry a sight for a photograph!)
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments