I’m happy to acknowledge that it’s a fantastic privilege being a parent. But there are times when I’d be all too happy to toss that privilege aside for the sake of ten minutes with a book and a cup of coffee and no preschooler saying ‘Mummy, why…?’ every 0.8 seconds. Newsflash for the mums who feel like this: the ship won’t sink without you. Here’s your evidence.
What Jess wanted to do, on this crisp autumn day, was to wander around the city with no particular purpose, with occasional detours into coffee shops for even deeper escapes inside a good book. Yet just contemplating such a small luxury nipped at her conscience. As the day crept by, the sharp prick of suspicious eyes, unseen but always there, made her feel increasingly like a cold war defector. Somehow, her well-earned time off – no one could deny that she’d earned it — had turned her into an adulterer, cheating on her family and twisting what was supposed to be an overdue chance to unwind into a torment of self-recrimination. She was stealing precious time from her partner and kids, selfishly keeping it all to herself for once. Would it be possible to explain, to tell them she just needed to be alone sometimes, without losing the trust of her loved ones? It was unlikely they would even find out, and yet the guilt gnawed away at her, wearing her down. Not today then.
James frantically checked his watch as he stood in line at the supermarket. He held a single rose in one hand and a card and box of chocolates the another. Tapping his foot in impatience, he quickly handed the cashier his items and rushed out without having her place them in bags.
Once in his car, he zoomed down the street. He slowed down only as he approached a school zone and entered the school grounds.
Waiting for him was his 13 year old daughter, Aubrey. It was her first day of eighth grade and the first year her mother wasn’t there to pick her up. Her gloomy expression changed as she saw her father.
“For you.” James handed his daughter her gifts.
“Thank you, daddy.” Aubrey said with a smile. Her attention turned to a classmate who was being hugged by his mother. Sadness filled her eyes.
James kissed Aubrey on her forehead. “I love you, kiddo.”
“I love you too.” Aubrey said with a large grin. “You did good dad. Mom would be proud.”
Her words struck him. Tears filled his eyes. It was hard without his wife. He hoped she would be proud.