I was bone tired. My feet were aching and my back was agony. My limbs felt heavy and slow. All I wanted to do was to sit down. Just for a minute. I wanted to be at home, in bed or curled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle.
I wanted to be anywhere but here, traipsing round the museum with a chatty toddler. But I’d learned that the best way to plough through days like this was to soak up my busy toddler’s energy with a trip out of the house. Here at the museum though, my heart wasn’t in it. Mentally I had checked out. The weariness and the pain distracted me from really listening to Isla as she chattered on by my side.
Mummy, what do you think?
Suddenly I realised I hadn’t listened to word of the complicated story my toddler had been telling me about her morning at playgroup. Her big beautiful eyes stared up at me waiting for an answer. I felt like the worst mum in the world. Not only had I been ignoring my toddler but I had been feeling resentful and fed up of being pregnant and the tiredness it was was making me feel.
Sorry, Sweetie. Mummy is just really tired and the baby is making me feel a bit worn out. Can you tell me again?
And she said to me, simply:
Let’s lie down then.
We were in a quiet corner of the museum next to a sweeping carpeted staircase leading to the next floor. She grabbed my hand and pulled me down until we both sat and then lay down on the stairs. She turned her face towards mine as we both lay.
I gazed at her beautiful face. Those big all-seeing eyes that sought out mine. A sumptuous chocolate button brown, just like Daddy’s. Her blonde hair with the baby curls, framing her face. Her rounded cheeks, flushed with the excitement of doing something unexpected with Mummy. She reached out to put her small warm hand in mine.
We smiled. Both sharing a moment of being complicit in doing something strange and silly in the middle of the museum. A little team of two.
I held her gaze and asked her to tell me the story again of her morning. And this time, lying down beside her with her hand in mine, I listened. It was a story about a game with complex rules that she and her friends had made up. She recounted it with enthusiasm and vigour, with all the funny mannerisms and words that she had learnt. In that moment my heart swelled with the wonder of being with this adorable and unique little girl that was mine.
We lay there on the stairs for several minutes. My body relaxed and the warmth of her hand in mine made me feel safe and cocooned. One of the museum staff walked by and asked if we were OK. I assured him that we were fine and were just resting for a moment, as if lying down on the stairs was the most normal thing in the world.
When he left we both erupted into giggles. Her bubbling childish laughter joined with mine. Unadulterated joy and happiness in a moment she’d created.
In that moment I forgot all about my earlier feelings of tiredness and distance. The magical moment she had brought me made it all disappear.
Whenever I feel down or tired or worn from it all, the magic finds me. It comes alone like a light to lift my mood and make everything OK. It can be as simple as a look, a huge squeezy cuddle or your warm pudgy fingers clasped in mine. In those moments I remember I’m your mama. And that’s worth everything.