Most days I get home around 7 o’clock. I enjoy my job very much, but the moment I step out of the office I feel a pang of guilt; I instantly miss the child and Husband that I haven’t seen all day and I’m instantly sure that Bethany for one, will have felt aggrieved by my absence. I’m sure most parents who work outside the home, feel the same way.
So I dash for the train, often in the rain (this is the North after all!) spurred on by thoughts of Beth and Phill and home….and then, finally, I get there. Phew!
I walk into a porch which is full of shoes and mail and I’m greeted by a crazy dog who jumps up at me, snapping handbag handles and wagging her tail so furiously that it whips my legs and knocks down the coats and laundry that often live in the hallway.
shouts words are “Get down Gracie! Back! No! Enough!”
Eventually she decides that I’ve been sufficiently ‘greeted’ and she gets down, back, no, enough and allows me to walk into the living room. Actually I rarely walk, I usually stumble into the living room, tripping over a pair of converse or a school bag or a kitten. And there she is, my adorable little baby. Now the size of most grown women, she’s still in her primary school uniform. There’s biro on her hands, her socks are odd and filthy and her prefect badge has made a hole in her cardigan. I’m not buying another one now :-/
A quick survey of the room is pretty soul destroying. I spent hours cleaning this house at the weekend, but by Monday evening, you wouldn’t know it at all. Tiny flecks of wool and glitter all over the carpet are evidence that some crafting has gone on in my absence and that the debris has been lovingly spread around by the animals (at least she’s being creative) and there are books and homework on the coffee table (at least she’s reading), along with a glass of milk that’s currently being eyed up by a dog and two cats and teetering dangerously close to the edge(at least she’s getting her calcium). To top it all, my roses have wilted and dropped their petals.
Today my daughter has her back to me, hunched over the table like a monk in prayer, braiding tiny little elastic bands into bracelets, apparently not noticing that there are dosens of the things in a circle around where she sits.
On the mantelpiece I spot the full cup of tea that I made at 6.30 this morning, when in some weird moment of hope and delusion, I believed I would have time to drink it! Before I can talk to Beth about the mess that she’s made/left/ignored, I need to move the evidence of my own!
“Hi pretty,” I say.
“Hi” she says, turning briefly to look up at me with her big blue eyes and even bigger smile, “did you have a good day?”
“I did thank you” I say as I remove the offending mug of tea. She’s too lovely to tell off, I fall head over heels for those eyes every day. I take the mug into the kitchen and add it to the disaster that lurks in there.
‘Does it really matter…..really’ I think ‘isn’t all of this just good creative, childish mess, the sort that’s much more important than cream sofas and and tidy shoe cupboards?’.
‘We’re happy, interesting and we love each other and who needs a show home anyway’, I tell myself as I step on a lego brick.
I do the one legged kangaroo dance for a minute or so before slumping onto the sofa that despite being scrubbed yesterday, is already covered in dog hair and then I’m promptly covered by the dog herself. Now my office clothes are covered in dog hair too.
I sigh a big sigh and close my eyes. Why do I bother?
In what seems like only moments later, Beth has moved her books and bands and bag and shoes and mess and has changed out of her school clothes and is standing in front of me with those big blue eyes, even bigger smile and a steaming hot cup of tea.
I guess this is why I bother.
Better still it’s chippy tea night! And let’s eat out of the paper…who wants to do dishes on a Monday!?