The Thoughts Of A Mother In A Library Late At Night

HenryI didn’t go and watch Henry Hotdog do handstands. I got busy talking. I was enjoying the company of friends, and while the tug tug tug on my sleeve continued, I retained my focus on the adults at the table. I made suggestions from the side of my mouth to him.

“Do you want something from the juice bar?”

He wandered off and came back with an orange juice icy pole.

The tugging continued.

“Just two more minutes darling, I just want to hear Janet’s story. Do you want my phone?”

He didn’t.

“Can we go Mum. Can you just stop talking?”

It appeared that I couldn’t. I talked some more.

Finally, when we made our way to the grassed area, his preferred hand stand area, we discovered his siblings were waiting. They were finished their sports and were now ready to head home. They’d be no time for handstands.

“Go on, we’ll wait. Do some now? We’ll watch you do some now.” I suggested gently through my guilt. The others looked bored, hot from sports practice and ready to go home.

“It’s okay” he said, head hung low. “It’s too late.”

I didn’t watch Henry Hotdog do handstands.

We held hands on the way back to the car. The others were busy, full of information on their day. As we made our way home I listened to someone tell me about a book in their classroom, my eyes flicked to the rear view mirror, his face turned towards the window. A vacant gaze.

Hours later, late into the evening, I sat in a university library. Young people giggled as they whispered about a lecture that day. I thought of my babies tucked up in bed, check my word count again.  As I  glanced towards my phone to check there wasn’t a text or urgent call from home, I saw a picture I’d taken just that morning. I’d woken to find myself face to face with Henry in my bed, fast asleep. I’d stared for minutes at his freckles, watched his eyes flicker, looked at the sunlight focussing in on his blonde fringe. I’d wondered how many of these mornings I had left before he became to big to snuggle in between G and I. He looked so perfect in the sunlight. He was completely unaware of how captivated I was, how he’d stolen my attention.

The imbalance of my attention. The guilt of getting it wrong. Something that will be forgotten tomorrow, allowing for a new guilt next week. The thoughts of a mother in a library late at night.

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