The 6am sunshine is filled with beauty and bitterness.
I don’t want to be awake, but the small people are.
My small people are as beautiful as the sunshine we’re sitting under, but I wish they would sleep in longer.
I feel strange, I look strange, it’s too early for me. But for them, the small people, they don’t need to warm their engines up, they awake ready to go. My engine is tepid but I pretend it’s firing on all cylinders.
We whisper to each other in the garden so we don’t wake the neighbours.
We make ships and creatures from egg boxes, hang the washing, dig holes, set monster traps, jump silently on the trampoline and chalk the crazy-paving. It’s now red, pink, yellow, white, blue and green. It has monsters, lines, squiggles, zig-zags and scrawny family portraits all over its unfashionable, crazy, grey face.
We fill the kitchen with chaos and I reach for my lukewarm coffee. Coffee has been my aid since the 5.15 alarm that pokes me in the head and whispers “Mummy” in my ear.
The oven tells me it’s only 9am but it feels like we have already achieved a day.
It’s his turn for a lie-in and I wonder when he will wake. The small people have more energy than me and each pull an arm as if I were the box at Christmas they both tried to clamber in.
I long for him to wake and wish for a loud crow, jackdaw, car alarm or helicopter outside his window where he heavily sleeps, probably dribbling. Lucky, dribbling him.
No helicopter, but he wakes anyway and joins us in the kitchen. No sign of dribble, but small, puffy eyes, scratching his chest through his t-shirt and sticky up hair tell me it was a deep sleep.
There is an awkward wall between us this morning. I went to bed in childish anger, fed up with things.
Not him. Just, things.
I’m tired too.
We’ve both been tired for weeks. Months. Years.
I make him a coffee as a peace offering hoping that the cup of dark brown liquid will soften the wall.
The coffee is my apology.
I love him. He loves me. We love our kids. Our kids love us. We’re just tired.
The coffee has worked. He smiles. God he looks tired.
Sleep is our first craving these days. Craving for each other is smothered by exhaustion and is now a blue moon luxury.
The boy is excited to see his father’s sleepy body and parades the egg box pirate ship he made at a quiet 5.30 am in front of the man who hasn’t yet had a chance to sip his coffee.
The girl clings to Daddy’s tired legs. The three of them disappear to another room to be animals.
The boy returns saying Daddy is being a ladybird, but he misses his monster trap and he does not want to be where the ladybirds live.
He pulls me back out in the garden, to the traps and the daylight that highlight my shadows.
What to do today? Washing? Yes, that needs to be done. Budgets? Yes, that needs to be done. Cooking? Yes. Dishwasher? Yes. Ironing? Yes. Shopping? Yes. Eating? Yes. Playing? Yes. Sorting out small people rows? Yes. Homework? Yes. Rescuing people from monsters? Yes. Having a conversation with my husband? No. Talking at my husband as he swiftly passes me by with two children on his back? Yes. Him talking at me as I run away from a monster trying to eat me and my son? Yes.
Where will our energy come from?
We are raising two human beings. We teach them to read, to be kind, to laugh, to love and be loved, to keep them safe, we try to inspirer learning, stop dirty habits, wipe dirty bums and show them how to make the best tools they can so they can carve and dig out a safe and content future for themselves. Sometimes we fail and give them shitty tools or a pile of dirt that’s too heavy for them to carry. Sometimes we succeed and they skip and laugh and make light work of life. We are their guide, our voice is their light to turn to when they are frightened in the night.
Their lives lay in our hands.
We love them, but we must let them go. To be their own person. That’s hard.
No wonder we’re tired.
I love us.
He loves us.
The small people love us.
We are our own, odd cogs working together. Us older cogs are a bit rusty, but we still manage to turn and fit in with the other cogs.
I like the colour of rust.
I like us.
Tired, lovely us.