I am the one who no longer gets to sleep longer in the mornings. Not that it happened often anyway. It’s just now I don’t have a choice. My hazy eyes greet all three little people with a sleep-deprived smile, a tight cuddle, and as many kisses as they will allow me.
“Breakfast,” they wail. “We’re hungry, Mummy. We’re thirsty too. Can we have eggs for breakfast. Pancakes?” Too tired to cook, I dish up bowls of cereal either drowning in too much milk or paddling in not enough. I promise myself I’ll do them a cooked breakfast at the weekend.
I give myself a well-deserved fist-bump for finding the energy to lay out today’s clothes the night before. I then gulp cheap coffee to give me strength to wrestle them each into their outfits.
The eldest tests my patience every single morning by giggling and clowning around into his school uniform. In turn, the middle one copies his brother and there’s more tomfoolery for me to deal with. Then there’s the baby-slash-toddler, ( I haven’t decided if I’m going to let him grow past baby status yet) and changing a nappy on him is like playing musical statues during an earthquake.
By this point, there’s a warm coffee hiding somewhere, laughing at me for losing it again. The mornings when I’m due to be at work are hell. I have to make myself look presentable. It’s the days when all I have to worry about is the school run that I cherish; hair scraped back into a ponytail, make-up free, finished off with jeans and a baggy jumper to hide the evidence of last night’s biscuit-binge bloated stomach.
After all of that, I’m ready for another coffee. There’s no time though. Next it’s teeth, hair-brushing, check all of the bags are packed, school books accounted for, forms signed ready to return, money for some school fundraiser or charity day, cakes and biscuits baked for the school to sell for god-knows-what reason, water bottles filled, shoes on, coats on, hat or suncream – depending on the weather – on. Baby in the pushchair, the older two with fruit in their hands (“Mummy, we’re still huuuungry.” Ready, we step outside.
I wear my smile well, determined not to show them I’m beat. I’ve managed another morning doing it all on my own. Again. It’s only 8.40am and already I feel like I’ve run around the world and back again.
When he left us, with nowhere else to go but hers, I let the resentment sink in for a little while. I could see no end to doing it solo. First in the morning, then all over again with the extra elements of cooking dinner, running a bath, and doing homework added in to the mix. That’s before I’d even considered housework and laundry.
If overwhelmed was the top of the iceberg, then it was nothing compared to the loneliness, heartache and betrayal which lingered underneath it, trapped in coldness. How the hell was I going to do this on my own?
“But, Mummy,” my eldest looked at me confused. “ You’re not on your own. You’ve got me.”
“Mummy,” my middle boy lept into my arms and babbled “I wuve you.”
Then the baby-slash-toddler shuffled his way over to me like a tiny drunk man and placed his favourite toy car on my lap.
I may have all of the responsibility now but I also have everything he left behind and I won’t have to miss a single bit of it.