I wake up late. I know it’s late because of the quality of the light in the bedroom.
I check my phone. 10am…10AM? I hate waking up late, especially at weekends, the precious time together goes too fast as it is.
I rush downstairs, too quickly, still not quite ready, tired from resisting and then giving into Arlo’s night-long demands for milk, still not fully sharp after the deep, dream filled morning slumber.
There are presents, home-made cards and excited shouting but I am still not quite ready.
“Tea?” Bart says, “No, no coffee - thank you, I need a coffee I think.” I unwrap the presents, beautiful, framed photographs of me and the kids and chocolate too.
“Can I have some Mummy? I’m a fan.” Eli pants his tongue lolling, Arlo yells and points, they continue until I oblige. “Can I have a bit more Mummy… Do you like these Mummy? Arlo made this one and I made that one.”
The noise. No one warns you about the noise. The constant assault on your senses. There is toast. I sit to eat it and sip at the coffee, willing the caffeine to hurry up and kick in. Arlo taps my legs begging to be lifted onto my lap, where he sits for a moment before squirming to get down again.
“Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, look I’m drawing a soldier. This is the Thames and this is the Tower of London. Look Mummy, look! Look. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy look! I’m drawing a soldier.”
God. I’d give anything for some peace and quiet. I fantasise for a moment, as I often do, about reading a book cover to cover or going out for breakfast to read the papers undisturbed.
I know I ought to feel grateful. Life is short and fragile.
I move to the sofa to look out of the window, I watch some birds circling and the branches of our tree swaying.
Arlo clambers up to join me. I place him on my knees to jiggle him, he smiles, leaning in to press his soft, sumptuous cheek against mine. Eli comes up too and for a moment we sit this way, our cheeks pressed together and I begin to cry because I cannot be alone and I cannot stop time.