I know I’ve been testing you lately; there’s been lots of loud sighs at my desk and eye-rolling on the train. There’s been counting to ten and back again when I leave the house in the morning, looking as if a tiny little Tasmanian devil just ran through every room with windmill arms, getting into everything in sight. Oh wait – that’s because he did. There’s been near rage as I’ve battled with trying to collapse the damned pushchair for the millionth time. Why won’t it fold? Why can’t I make it work? Why don’t the makers of these things remember who their audience is? Tired busy people who just don’t have enough of you, Patience, to stand here fighting with a wretched contraption and OH GOD DAMMIT, I’ve trapped my finger again. Why did I buy him this little toy plastic pushchair anyway?
And Patience, I know that lately I’ve pushed you so far, with this juggling act of working full time and being a mum and playing house. The boxes remain upstairs, unpacked, I’m sort of used to them now. When it comes to Zee, it takes five attempts to dress him each morning. He flings and flails in my arms, he whinges and whines, he lies prostrate on the floor screaming, red-faced, because I’m so mean I want him to wear a nappy and clothes outside and I will NOT let him play with the plug sockets or venture down the hard wooden staircase yet on his own.
But Patience the thing is, you and me, we’re okay. Because even in the midst of the stress and tiredness and untidiness, when all’s said and done, it comes back down to the Only’s.
It’s only work.
It’s only mess.
It’s only a toy.
It’s only a tantrum.
It’s only a plate of fruit thrown onto the kitchen floor as one chubby hand is thrust into his pocket and he gazes at me, challenging me with his enormous, beautiful eyes. And Patience, it was his gaze that did it. You came back. I sigh, and I pick up the fruit and put it back on his plate. I work out he’s been trying to tell me he’s thirsty, he doesn’t want strawberries.
He can’t talk yet, he’s frustrated too, when I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me. Sometimes I don’t recognise the points or the grunts or the whines. But then he smiles, and his gorgeous face,so perfect to me, lights up. He is cheeky and I adore him. He reaches for my hand, we go into the garden and kick the ball. He scampers away and I idly stand there, looking into the house, at the mess, a hundred thoughts run through my mind of the jobs that await and where have I put the keys and . . . oh. His little hand is in mine again.
He walks me to the steps.
‘Up, up, up!’ he cries.
We walk back down the steps.
‘Up, up, up!’ he cries.
He smiles at me again, and toddles off towards his ball.
‘MaMA!’ he cries. ‘MaMA!’
He wants to play again.
And this is where you make everything alright, Patience.
This I have lots of you for.
Though when I remember the washing, the tidying, the myriad boxes, the mess.
This I have less of you for.