The week passed. And too soon it is Saturday.
I tuck a kiss into Finn's coat pocket and wave hello to peace and quiet. Today there is a book, a lunch of split pea cinnamon rice, eight hours of relative freedom, and a salt and pepper dog called Penny, lying, almost permanently, across my feet.
Though I spend all week wishing my little boy away for five minutes of every given hour, when he is actually gone, I find myself bereft. Morose. Conjunctivitis and a nasty cold sore have rendered me too ugly (trust me, this is borderline she-devil disease) to leave the house in daylight, and though the rest of the world is hideously blurry, I can see with startling clarity the shape of every dust particle dancing a merry jig on a beam of Winter sun. I can't resist cleaning the windows again.
Afterwards I fling them open and boom K.D.Lang
into the garden, declaring myself a temporary social nuisance and
feeling mildly thrilled when I see a woman in a pink beret go past
mouthing the words to Miss Chatelaine under her breath. I want to run out and dance with her. To make her tell me where her children
are today, how it is that even at eight o'clock on a Tuesday morning
she always manages to look like a young Vivienne Westwood...all quirky frills and yummy confections of salmon and olive green. And a hat.
Always a hat. Today a beret, last week a little pill box affair perched
upon peach curls. How it is that she seems so deliciously
unaware of how wonderful she is? A walking smile on a cloudy day.
But of course I don't. I don't. I hide in my little ochre cell and settle into my armchair with The Secret Mothers Club, a book with a deceptively perky chick lit style cover disguising the kind of truths that bring the roar of tears into my raspberry rippled eyes...
"Motherhood is not a trifle. It is not a zabaglione or a dessert of frozen berries with melted chocolate. Motherhood is the ultimate matrix- between life and death. When all the romance and glory is stripped away, it is a wasteland with no consolations for the errors, mishaps and sins we unwittingly commit in the juggle between "doing the best we can" for those we have brought to life and staying alive ourselves."
Motherhood is not a trifle. On
Saturdays granted the freedom I live in day to day hope of, I am lost, even to myself. Stripped of the do this and do thats, the constant take your fingers out of mouth and the do as I say not what I am's, I am lost. While I secretly despise woman who live through their children,
who let themselves be defined by them, without Finn here my life loses
shape and there isn't sufficient time to mould myself into anything
worthy. I am strangely uncomfortable. Vulnerable, without the armour that is my child. I clean, I eat, I read. I chase new favorites around the music channels and field how are you texts from a man I want don't want want don't want. A man who doesn't want me but remains thoroughly committed to playing a pointless game of friends. Maybe easing his guilt. Maybe tucking me onto a shelf for a rainy day.
I want to tell him that I am a rubbish friend. To go away and leave me
alone because the game is beginning to
bore me now. Or climb into bed with me, trail a finger down my spine and watch me shiver. Watch me dissolve, why don't you?
I write. A book shaped by the quagmire that
is single motherhood. I worry. About Finley's tendency to over-react to
everything in his wake. About the meeting I have to attend with child
therapists on Tuesday. What do you think is wrong with him Miss May? Why is it that his goddamn pre-scissor skills are so hopeless? Why Miss May, if his conversation is littered with big words and poetry, does he struggle to hold his pen the way we demand he should? How come he can draw pigs and elephants and drawers full of socks but he can't yet write his name? Why Miss May? Can you tell us why? We think perhaps it is you...
And then he is back. A bundle of corduroy energy. I throw myself at him. Smother/ Mother. I run a silent check. His cheeks are rosy. Tick. He is clean. Tick. Giddy happy (to see me: ah the arrogance of maternal love). Tick. Apparently uncompromised by our circumstances. Tick. Surviving his parents chatty indifference. Tick. Writing what goes unsaid under thick childish skin and storing it up for years of therapy. Tick. Thriving on it.
I feel all of a muddle. Giggling like me and the paternal part of our familial equation are flirting in a bar. Then wearing my ice queen hat and demanding answers. Has he ate? What was it he ate? Has he been good? Did he go the toilet? Desperate to know, but all at once desperate to escape the boring details of gluten free pizza and a tantrum in the park, described in detail by a man who only has to father him once a week. How bloody dare you criticise? Already feeling the grip of loving my babba too much suffocating me and shaking him off in fear of consuming him. So unwrapping his arms from tight around my neck and putting on my coat, then tying the lead onto the dog we are minding and letting myself out into the navy blue sky. Standing in front of a new Dallas mansion built where there was once a dignified thirties villa and dissecting another families life. Shuffling to keep warm in the dark while the dog pokes around in the dirt and watching their lives like so many soap operas.
Feeling outside of the Mother I am supposed to be. Living in fear of bald patches on his little head. Proof that I am dragging him, kicking and screaming through a life blurry at the seams. Peeling him off the front door he has barricaded when life is splintered all over again by his Daddy's see you soon mate, be a good boy for Mummy.
Be a good boy for Mummy. Be a good Mummy for your boy.