One person’s lifetime is another person’s yesterday

20 Nov

The air is shower damp and the smell is body butter. Almond. The blind is down, the light is on, the quilt has not been straightened.

My arms are twisted behind my back. One hand pulls down, the other up. My shoulder muscle cricks. Spasms. My mouth and my cheek do the same. I stop myself from swearing.

‘I think I’d better help.’ He pats the corner of the bed. ‘Sit here.’

I do. He sits on his knees, behind.

‘The tag is stuck,’ he says. He fiddles. Clumsily, because his hands and his fingers are small. He gives me updates as he works. ‘I’ve pushed the tag down.’ I feel his fingers on my skin. ‘I’m holding it down’. He pushes a deep breath out and I feel his fingers pull. They reach the top.

‘Got it,’ he says.

He bounces once then leans his head against my back. He says ‘you should make your clothes like mine…my zips are all at the front’.

We are in the hurry we always are. I close my eyes to slow time down.

And then he moves. There is: breakfast, socks, shoes, teeth, hat, reader-folder, lunch, in the car, in the car, I said in the car, why did you hit him, seatbelts, please just put your seatbelt on, until we’re at the lights and I say ‘we forgot the sunblock, we’ll have to do it at school’ and he says ‘mum, you should have remembered before’.

And so we stand at the lockers. He lets me do it, because he’s an Oldest Child, but his arms are tense by his side and his eyes are closed and he bites at his lip. I rub the cream down his lightly-freckled nose, and across his soft round cheeks and down to the point of his chin.

This is the face I kissed in the mornings, the nights, the evenings, the afternoons. He fed, then slept on my chest. It was my yesterday.

The children are a stream behind him and he whispers ‘mu-um, I’m the only one.’

I brush at his hair. I want to kiss his cheek and whisper to him I know my love, I know.

He joins the stream, but I know he knows I’m watching him. By the way he doesn’t look back.

Advertisements

16 Responses to “One person’s lifetime is another person’s yesterday”

  1. elsewhere November 20, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    So do kids wear sunblock every day now?

    i remember coloured zinc cream in the summer and various entreaties to wear hats, or you’d end up ‘having your nose burnt off because of the skin cancers by the time you were forty’.

  2. ThirdCat November 20, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    Yep. Every. Single. Day.
    Of course one day we’ll find out it’s dangerous for your skin, but in the meantime I’m spending a fortune on fragrance free, preservative free etc etc etc

  3. fifi November 20, 2007 at 3:20 pm #

    Thank you for being in the world. I so loved that.

  4. Pavlov's Cat November 20, 2007 at 4:44 pm #

    My blazingly redheaded mother made me and my sisters wear cream and sometimes blousy or shirty things over our bathers as well, way before this was in any way normal. We hated it. We hated it right up until we were twenty and she was fifty and we watched her come home crying with pain from the dermatologist once every three months, her hands, forearms and face covered in new burns from the slush for the sunspots. By the time she died her face was covered in scars where they’d had to take the cancers off as well.

    Now I’m 54 and I’ve only ever had one spot slushed off, and no cancers. They’ll thank you.

    Eventually.

  5. Pavlov's Cat November 20, 2007 at 4:44 pm #

    My blazingly redheaded mother made me and my sisters wear cream and sometimes blousy or shirty things over our bathers as well, way before this was in any way normal. We hated it. We hated it right up until we were twenty and she was fifty and we watched her come home crying with pain from the dermatologist once every three months, her hands, forearms and face covered in new burns from the slush for the sunspots. By the time she died her face was covered in scars where they’d had to take the cancers off as well.

    Now I’m 54 and I’ve only ever had one spot slushed off, and no cancers. They’ll thank you.

    Eventually.

  6. suse November 20, 2007 at 7:05 pm #

    My 13 year old won’t let me kiss him hello or goodbye at school these days. As he said, “it IS high school, Mum.”

    Happily my grade 5 and grade 2 boys still give public cuddles.

  7. tut-tut November 20, 2007 at 8:38 pm #

    You’ve got it down near perfect . . .

  8. meli November 20, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    that was amazing.

  9. blackbird November 20, 2007 at 9:52 pm #

    – my life.
    Three times over.

  10. Cellobella November 21, 2007 at 6:50 am #

    My 10yo daughter insists on public displays of affection with her “always at work” mother. I guess that’s the only advantage to working full-time. That and the fortnightly injection of funds.

    Great post.

    (PS I’ve tagged you for the 8 things meme)

  11. Ariel November 21, 2007 at 7:18 am #

    Yep, that’s my life too.

    This post is just GORGEOUS.

    I love the comment on the tag: ‘you should make your clothes like mine…my zips are all at the front’. They are so LOGICAL at that age, aren’t they?

    F is ‘the only one’ on a few things. I say what my mum said, ‘well, I’m not everybody else’s mother, I’m your mother’.

    He’ll be thankful you’re his mother when he gets older and doesn’t have skin cancers, as PC said. Though I’m sure he’s thankful already …

  12. ampersandduck November 21, 2007 at 8:49 am #

    You already had me at the title.

  13. ThirdCat November 21, 2007 at 9:07 am #

    Hello everyone, and thanks so much. I’m really glad you liked the title, &D. They’re my worst thing.

    PC, yes, redheaded stock here too (though I seem to have got the paleness without the red, but still the propensity for early greying) and so I’ve always been lathered up. Besides which sunbathing was so bloody boring, I can not understand it…all the same I’m looking at my skin very carefully these days.

    I’m allowed to hug him, but NO kissing. I still sneak them sometimes. And I’ve noticed over the last few years the mister lets his mum get increasingly close (not in an icky way).

  14. Stomper Girl November 21, 2007 at 8:12 pm #

    Just beautiful.

    In the car, in the car, I SAID in the car. I say that every morning.

  15. Meggie November 22, 2007 at 5:13 am #

    Being a mother can hurt in very unexpected ways.

  16. Mummy Crit November 23, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    teary… I love your mothering posts most of all I think.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: