This morning started like every other morning during the school holidays has: with the kind of random question that occupies my little boy’s mind when school isn’t filling it with phonics and matheamatical equations. I was half caught up in the kind of dream I would pay the angels to fill my mind with, when I heard the clatter of Finley escaping from his iron bed and charging across the hall in an effort to have the question preying on his mind answered as soon as possible.
“Do pigeons like cheese on toast Mum?” He said, wheedling under my cosy quilts and placing his icy cold hands either side of my face so my attention couldn’t go wondering back into dreamland and escape the delivery of a sensible answer to a ludicrous question.
“No”, I said. (Because I am feeling resolutely uninspired in all departments of my life right now and try as I might the culinary habits of pigeons have never really been my forte).
“Oh” he said, before launching into his usual morning diatribe about David Cameron, Doctor Who and little girls with ginger hair, while I closed my eyes again and hummed and haa-ed in the right places. Because I am a bad Mummy and social services are going to be on to me any day now. Though I rather suspect they might have their hands full with Mummies across the land at once savouring every moment of the Summer holidays while simultaneously counting down the days until the children very close to driving them to distraction can be handed over to earnest looking school teachers for their own safety.
You see much as I love my little boy I miss the shape of the days we enjoy when he is back at school. I miss our routines, because my brain goes to pot when there is no routine to speak of and Finley enjoys his “at-home days” to such a degree that he all but refuses to leave the house, preferring instead to follow me around in his pyjamas, talking incessantly, or drawing maps of planets on which men with hairy faces live. And I shamefully, keep on the move, polishing this or ironing that so that entire days aren’t lost to being pinned to my armchair by a child who wraps himself around me and forces me to endure episode after episode of Dick and bloody Dom.
I cant wait till I can get back to my desk and work properly. My calender is perforated (and exasperated) by these periods of waiting. Interims between seasons. Countdowns to occasions. And for every event I tick off, for every September that comes and goes, (heralded by much gleeful anticipation), and for every birthday my litle boy celebrates, my life is passing by. I know this. I sense the passage of time more pertinently now than I ever did. Another grey hair. Another Christmas on it’s way. Every time I wish it was next week, or tomorrow, I am wishing a little bit more of my life away and mindfulness goes out of the window in favour of impatience and frustration: emotions as familiar to me as my constant, gnawing need to read: to know, to learn. To fill my head not with what is, but what might be. To eat custard creams until they come out of my ears.
Today a friend is burying her partner. Five miles down the road Richards’ lovely Dad lies, unaware that, though it is breaking all our hearts, the prognosis after a long series of scans and tests is no longer a positive one. Everything seems drenched in gloom and though my Mum tells me that is all just part of getting older, if I am absolutely honest, it terrifies me.
And I am cross with myself for being frightened. For not being grateful enough.
For not enjoying every moment I get to share with my precious little boy. For resenting the time I spend with him because it eats away at the time available to fritter on personal ambition. For not yet being grown up enough to understand what life is about, and fearing sorrow as if I were the only one ever to have to endure it.
For not knowing whether pigeons prefer ham sandwiches or pot noodles. For the constant burden that is frustration.
For still being a little girl.