I take the kids and bundle them in the car, tense words passed between us both upon leaving. I’m too exhausted to rifle through them, to pick them apart, to choose the healthier way of talking like the counsellor has taught us. All I know is that I’m tired of being the glue while everyone else gets to be the glitter. Their dad, their grandparents, the rest of their family — they get to waltz in with an agenda of fun while I’m assessing who’s eaten, who hasn’t, who needs a nap, who’s going to wash those dirty dishes, and where those boots ended up. I am the time keeper, the order maker, the bread and butter. I’m the lost shoe finder, the question answerer, the clothes cleaner, the admin of four separate lives, the glue that sticks food to fridges, socks to drawers, children to naps. I hold the schedule while everyone else gets to break it, and while I accept I’m the ‘there’ parent, a little rebellion escapes when the pressure rises.
And it looks a lot like a woman screaming I CAN BE GLITTER, TOO.
There was once a time when rebellion looked like packing my bags and leaving home; piercing my nose, skipping class, shoplifting. My hot-headed youth relished the kind of rebellion which stemmed from saying no – to authority, to conformity, to society and all its stifling rules. But now, in my very adult world with my very adult responsibilities, my rebellion stems from the opposite; from the very act of saying yes.
Mummy, can we go see the baby animals?
Mummy, can we go pick strawberries?
Mummy, can I have an ice cream?
Mummy, can I play on the playground for a bit longer?
Mummy, can I have hot chippies for lunch?
Mummy, can we stay out late?
Mummy, can we watch a movie?
Yes, my darlings. Yes to it all.
I got Ella’s kindy acceptance in the mail earlier this week, a startling reminder that these days with them are numbered, that babies grow and schedules change and I won’t get to have them by my side forever. In six months, it will all begin — the kindy to prep to school slide, a fast rollercoaster jolting us all into a different kind of life, one where nappies are replaced by homework and parties full of underage drinking take the place of bedtime stories where tiny bodies once curled into mine.
I get it. I accept this is part of life. I’m not claiming there isn’t a whole rainbow full of wonderful things ahead as I share in their lives as they grow. But even so, I can’t pretend it isn’t sad. That I’ll lose them as they are now – so innocent, so curious, so able to fit inside my arms, so available, so with me.
These thoughts collide into a protest – that while it’s so easy to say no to them – the dishes aren’t going to wash themselves – one day soon, I will give anything to go back to an ordinary day when they were once small. When I can look into their beautiful faces turned up at me like I am everything and say to them, darling, YES.
So I protest to the glue that I’ve become. I protest to the reasons we can’t and I take these babies and scream yes – even if it means driving an hour and half to pat some animals and another hour and a half to pick some strawberries. We have nowhere else to be. Not today. Today they are here. And I want to be with them.
Mummy, can we make orange juice?
Mummy, can we light sparklers?
Mummy, can you come watch us at swimming?
“Glitter is my makeup of choice.”