Guilty kisses on sleeping cheeks, making amends for the rush and bustle of the day.
I crouch by your bed and watch for a few moments as your chest rises and falls. I touch your hand. I rest my head on the pillow beside yours, listening, breathing you in. You don’t even know I’m there, trying to atone for my absence and irritation.
My chest squeezes with guilt as I remember that our time together today was spent doing only the perfunctory and necessary, and how I radiated stress throughout that time, pleading with you, cajoling you, chastising you – all the time grating against each other. “Get dressed, put your pyjamas on the bed, stop fighting, sit up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put shoes on, hurry, we’ll be late.” Then the same in reverse at the end of the day; “let’s get home, hurry up, please sit down, eat your dinner, get undressed it’s bath-time, stop fighting, come on, get into bed.”
My frustration and stress at a long, busy day leaked out at bedtime, impatient words marring our last few minutes together before sleep.
Then the chaos subsides, and everything is silent. As you both sleep, the stress melts away and I see you in all your perfection; beautiful, soft, and quiet.
How could I possibly find you frustrating, or annoying, or just too much? Why would being in the bath on time be more important than another cuddle, or being in bed on time be more important than reading another story?
I shed guilty tears in the shower as I decompress from the day, the chaos, the commute and the craziness come into focus and the world slows down enough so I can see. As I breathe the frustration away, perspective returns and I regret my irritability, all the chivvying, and the rush and bustle. I regret that we all have to be in different places, that we’re apart for so long, that we only have the first and last hours of these days together, doing perfunctory and necessary things. I regret that I find it so hard, that at times I’m so overwhelmed by responsibility, by organising three people’s lives, by being a working woman. I regret that I spend the day missing you, and that when we’re together, it’s just so hard. I realise that you find it difficult too, that you’re getting used to being back at school, and doing longer days at nursery, that you’re both missing me too.
Soon, it will be the weekend. Soon we will have time together for fun, cuddles, stories, painting, and baking, scooting, running and climbing trees. Soon the stress and irritation will go, at least for a few days, and I will have time to drink you in, to hold you, to show you how much I love you.
But until then, I’ll have to settle for leaving guilty kisses on sleeping cheeks.