One of my most favourite things to do-in days filled with school runs, housework, dinners, baths, keeping the kids alive, etc-happens at 10pm.
At 10pm, the husband and I drag our ridiculously tired selves to bed. Now, as much as I love all that goes with bedtime, (the silence being one of the major loves of my evenings), it’s not quite up there with something else I do every night.
At 10pm, I head up to the top of the house to pay a visit to my biggest kidlet.
I un-ruffle the duvet from under and around his sleeping body, locate his favourite cuddly elephant, check he’s not too hot or cold and tuck him back in.
I then always stroke his face, smooth down his unruly bed hair, kiss his forehead, and tell him “Mummy loves you”. Sometimes he murmurs a reply of “love you” back- other times he doesn’t stir, but I always say it anyway.
Shortly after, I go back down to the littlest kidlet’s room, where things are sometimes a little different.
80% of the time, she will tend to be somewhere else in her bed, in comparison to where I originally tucked her in a few hours ago.
Instead of angelically laying on her pillow, the right way up, she tends to be upside down, back to front, laying on top of the covers.
Because she’s not in the right place, more often than not when I go to move her, she stirs. And, sometimes, following all of this, she also needs a cuddle.
Sleepy cuddles are definitely my absolute favourite type of cuddles.
All squishy and warm, their sleepy bodies mould into yours, and sometimes you hold them for so long (accidentally of course), that they fall back to sleep. Just for a second, you’re transported back to when they were babies, and you rocked them to sleep when they were teething, poorly or generally unsettled.
Once resettled, the little lady’s cuddly is also located, her covers are tucked back in, her hair is smoothed and her cheek Is stroked.
A little more alert than her brother, we sometimes have sleepy conversations that more often than not, go exactly like this.
“Mummy loves you.”
“Olivia loves you.”
“Mummy loves you more.”
“Olivia loves you most.”
We leave it there with her thinking she’s won that battle of love declaration, but obviously I know better.
These times, every night, when it’s just me and them-no noise, no worries and nothing to busy us, are so precious to me.
I sometimes find my mind attempts to lull me into being sad-into missing the baby cuddles, or worrying about the day I won’t get to do these sleepy little rituals with them.
Instead, I try and look forward to all the cuddles and sleepy conversations still to come. The endless possibilities of hair smoothing, cheek stroking, and murmured “I love you’s”.
Then, I feel like the luckiest mummy on the planet-and look forward to 10pm the next night, once again.
One week ago, nothing was different. We had plans for the week with various friends, I was loving that half term meant no school runs, and I had one happy boy ready for a week with his friends and family.
We went out for a walk, he was absolutely fine, although a little tired toward the end, but
we had walked a long way so I expected that. He had a bath, and went to bed fine.
The day after, all plans for the week, and happiness went out of the window, when we ended up in hospital with the boy and a concern that he had signs of Meningitis. 10 hours in the hospital, an all clear in the end from and Meningococcal infections, two lots of antibiotics to kill any infections he may have had, and advice of rest, rest, and more rest, with an added side note for us to keep a very close eye on him, (as if I need prompting for that!)
I cancelled all plans, we spent the week indoors, with me dosing him up, keeping that “close eye” on him as instructed, and basically coming close to an anxiety attack every time he complained of a symptom similar to those that the hospital flagged up as “dangerous” on the Monday. Most evenings, I would sit watching tv, with the sound down low, and the baby monitor-dug out from a cupboard and placed in his bedroom-turned up so high I could hear him breathing.
Thursday and Friday, I managed to take him out for an hour and it exhausted him. Saturday we had a slightly busier day and he seemed to be getting back to normal, aside from the tiredness.
It was around the table at dinner time, he asked me if the school opens back up on Monday. When I answered that it did, his face fell, and he looked down sadly. Although I had picked up on it, I wasn’t going to play along, so I asked cheerily why he was asking. He said he didn’t want to go back to school, he wanted to stay home for longer with me. I told him that that’s not how his life works. He has plenty of time off and he’d rested lots last week so it was now time to get back to normal-and I walked away.
The thing is, that’s not what I wanted to say. The Mummy he sees on a day to day basis, knows what he should be told, and what I should be telling/
The Mummy I truly am however, wanted to say something so different.
This Mummy wants to reply to the sadness with “that’s OK darling, you don’t have to go back”. This Mummy wants to say that she can’t bear the thought of him leaving her, so she can’t look after him how she has for the past week, that she would quite happily never do a school run again because it makes her so miserable she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
This Mummy wants to keep her babies close, to never see anyone, for fear of them hurting them, for fear of them making her a person she doesn’t want her children to see.
This Mummy just wants to feel normal.
The thing is, I can’t ever let her rule. I’ll hide her away, like I always do, and be the Mummy my babies deserve, need and want. As exhausting as it is, I’ll stay strong, pretend everything’s OK, and put my happy smiley face on, when all I really want to do is cry, scream and fall apart.
Because my children, my little world turners, deserve the best in life. And I’ll never let them down.