Archie had Under 9s football at 8.30 so you only got a minor sleep-in before we rushed the bed – all five of us – throwing a basic breakfast on your bedside table and speeding you through the opening of presents as I took a few happy snaps so Archie and I could rush out the door.
The swell and surge of our daily life took control then and Mothers Day was all but gone.
Inside the walls of my braincase there was a scratching concern that couldn’t quite take my full focus but stayed with me; an undercurrent of regret; of letting something significant pass by.
I lost my way to the footy ground a few times and in between chatting to Archie and worrying about the work I had to finish before Monday morning, I stumbled upon the memory of our first weekend away, at Snake Valley, when we committed to creating this life together.
‘So, what are we?’ I asked, a little desperately.
‘I don’t know,’ you said, a gentle-joy in your eyes.
‘I want us to be boyfriend and girlfriend,’ I said.
For the rest of the time we dagged about in our tracksuit pants, hand in hand the whole time we were in public, nuded up and reducing the lifespan of the caravan’s suspension when we weren’t.
By the time Archie and I found the footy ground my mind held the image of us sitting on the bough of the tree by the lake – our limbs entwined, faces together; suffering that hard-core new love that makes a satisfying closeness impossible. I remembered the poem I wrote about it as well. It was one of the most sincere but overwrought pieces I’d ever written. And you loved it.
I walked Archie into the rooms and clapped him on to the ground with the team and did my best to keep him in my vision as every player huddled around the ball on the opposite side, but every moment my mind wandered it found you.
When you turned up with Lewis, Tyson and Maki half an hour later I waved you over and within that split second of looking into your eyes I had an idea of what was stirring inside me – I was missing you.
I was going to tell you about it right away but then Maki started risking his life by climbing the metal seating, and Tyson screamed out Daddy and coaxed me into a ‘rough and tumble’ and Lewis wanted steamed Dim Sims from the canteen.
We kept our attention on the kids and watched the game and talked to the parents of the other players and then we were on our way back home in separate cars with all those things we have to do and – swept along in the surge and swell again – I forgot to tell you what I was feeling.
That’s why I find myself sitting here at the kitchen table, late at night, writing about you.
I used to carry a photo of you as a child in my wallet because in that gorgeous picture was the same gentle joy I saw in you on our first weekend together; the same gentle joy I’ve seen in every quiet couple-moment we’ve shared since. I only have to look in to your eyes to see it. But in the past few weeks so many exciting things have happened and our children are still at the centre as they should be and life has surged forward at an even greater pace. I’ve allowed it to sweep me by you too often. I simply haven’t stopped to look.
When you went off to bed tonight I looked up to say goodnight and of course it was there – the centre of you – but I didn’t stop to see it again, and what could have been a reconnection has now become regret.
I know many couples who have lost years this way but I won’t let it happen and it’s occurred to me that I could have made Mother’s Day better by just finding that photo of us in the tree and remembering that poem and making a card that tells you that I love us and our family, and that the gentle joy I’ve lived with (and through) for so long is also the reason you’re such a wonderful Mum.
You’re my true friend and even in this busy and privileged life we’ve made together there are many quiet moments we can share every single day if I just stay open to the opportunities and make sure I’m there.
And I will.