From Writing Prompt -“Mind your step, its narrow” you said leading them down the alley.
(Note: My children are not called Nathaniel and Fiona, though they are 5 and 7)
Shadows were falling across my bedsheets, warmth was flooding into my room. I was lying in the place between asleep and awake. Wanting to stay in my snug, quiet place a while longer, I tensed when I heard the words,
“Mummy, its morning” then a second voice,
“Mummy, I’m hungry” I rolled over in bed and groaned, last day of the school holidays. My body ached, I felt pain from the demands of yesterday. They said being a mum is the hardest job in the world, I did not believe them, I believe them now.
Fiona, blonde hair, curls bouncing down her back, in her favourite leggings and pony top. Her sunny face looking at me expectantly. She is my baby and fiercely independent. Nathaniel, unruly blonde curls, now in his jeans and Star Wars top. Both ready for the day whilst I still lay in my pyjamas. Daddy had left on his journey to work, he had escaped the mad house for another day. Reaching out I pulled both children towards me for a hug. Feeling their silky soft skin on mine, I felt the warm rush of love between us. No matter how much my head or heart ached these two are my world.
I watched them as they ate. Fiona lit up as she ate her Weetabix and dropped milk over the table. She always managed to make a mess but then she is just 5 years old. Nathaniel always enjoys his toast; peanut butter fell on the table as well as his plate. I told myself we have just one more day then I must take them back to school. I sat my hands wrapped around my mug, its elixir warming my throat and stomach. The caffeine helping to wake me from my morning mum fog.
Leaving the children with Peppa and George Pig, I got myself dressed. Then made sandwiches and shovelled down some Weetabix with honey. I was determined to make the most of the day despite the sleep in my eyes and greasy hair. I had scooped it up into a pony tail, it desperately needed the attention of a hair-dresser, but the children came first. This month had been school uniform and new shoes. I mustered up all the energy I could and called the kids to get ready as we were going out.
“Where are we going mummy?”
“Are we going to a castle?”
“No castles Nate, Daddy has the car.”
“Are we walking mummy? where? Fiona bounced up and down.
“Yes, we’re walking, and we’re taking a picnic, we’ll see where we end up.”
“Can we go to the park?”
“Nate we will see where we end up” he screwed his face up.
“I don’t want to walk.”
“Come on kids, we’re not staying here all day.”
Both children moaning, found their trainers, Nate sat playing with his laces and whined. Impatiently I showed him again how to tie a neat bow, gratefully he gave me a hug. Then I forced Fiona’s size 10’s into hers and we were ready to walk out of the house. The kids walked out as they always did as I frantically grabbed the lunch, drink and locked up.
Walking by the river we could see the light sparkling in its ripples and dancing, ducks playing, casting their reflections on a scene of beauty. 7-year-old, Nathaniel suggested swimming with the ducks, disturbing their calm. No, I said, no swimming in the river. He then beamed at me and commented on the ducks. Relieved we continued to walk, walking down the river further we reached a field. The children walked on ahead, the scent of heather filled the air and the bees were buzzing. The birds were singing, and the trees were swaying in the breeze. Soon after we came to a field of cattle. We could smell them as they stood there swaying their tails, and the kids simultaneously said,
“Moo,” I said, their faces were radiant, and I felt lucky to be their mummy. We then had some squash and went on our way. It is times like this that parenting is easier. Enjoying each other’s company and loving nature. After the field we came to a narrow alley, we had to be careful as the river ran alongside it. I said to the children,
“Mind your step, its narrow” they both slowed down, not wanting to get wet.
Watching where I was walking, I was grateful when we came out to another field. Red poppies were everywhere, and we saw brown rabbits playing under the shade of an impressive old oak tree. Fiona wanted to touch them, but I restrained her, and we sat and watched, she was upset that I would not let her go to them. However, the noise that both children were making meant that the rabbits soon noticed us and ran, their white cotton wool tails bouncing as they went.
As we walked we discussed the nature around us. The animals and the plants, even the ants that crossed our path and the brambles that we stepped over. The occasional fallen tree at the side of the path led the kids to walk along them, Fiona refusing to hold my hand, she was a big girl and could steady herself. They worried me as we came to a tree with low branches. Nathaniel started to climb, ignoring my cries to get down. Fiona then followed him, both not seeming to hear me. I stood there and reflected on the number of trees I had climbed, and they were not climbing high. The sturdy branches were still under their weight, and the sound of their tinkling laughter filled the air. I sat on the grass in the shadows now watching them. We had walked along way and they did deserve a break. I was not planning on going to the park so climbing the tree would have to suffice. It was not long before I heard the familiar whine of,
“Mummy can we eat?”
The children came down from the tree as I opened my backpack. Pulling out sandwiches, cake and crisps, we sat quietly on the grass. Relaxed until Fiona wanted to spin around in circles, like a whirling dervish and Nate went to climb the tree again. I laid on the grass and tried to stay calm, they were not doing anything wrong, just not sitting as I had wanted them to, at least they might sleep tonight I thought. The laughter started again and then shouting as Nate wanted company in the tree. I packed up the back pack and said,
“Come on, kids, time to move on, let’s see what else we can see”.
“Mummy I’m tired” Fiona was still spinning.
“Come up the tree”.
“Right, Nate come down and Fiona take my hand”.
She walked over and took my hand, then looked at me and gave me a hug, Nate stayed in the tree. I looked at Fiona,
“Are we walking back or walking further?”
“I want to go home, my legs hurt”. We turned around facing the way we had come.
“Okay, Nate we are going”. He stayed up his tree, we started walking, leaving him there. We had only walked a little way when we heard familiar footsteps running behind us and there was Nate, who now took my other hand. Walking three abreast, I thought about our summer, it felt like it was over before it had started. In those moments where your child makes you angry, it is hard to keep focussed on the good and why you love them so much. Cherished moments that are sometimes lost amongst the pain and stress of being mum. The times in shops where they have melted down because I would not buy them what they wanted. Then the other times when we have had time together laughing and just being us. The times where I have felt like the worst mum in the world are lost amongst times like today where both are happily holding my hands.
Walking through the fields today my heart felt heavy that another summer holiday was nearly over. Despite the exhaustion of the last six weeks I wanted our time to carry on. Time is precious and so important to make time for each other, to soon my babies will be having babies. Now is the time to do things together and enjoy being together creating happy memories, whether it be cuddling on the settee with a film, or taking a nature walk, we cannot get time back, we can only go forward. Looking down at my two children next to me I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, I squeezed both their hands, they both looked at me and giggled, precious moments I thought, precious moments.