Coffee cups line my sink one by one, half drunk from the lack of time to finish my already cold drink. Plates pile by the distressed kettle, you know the one; where the copper coloured coating is peeling off around the edges.
I notice bits of onion on the floor from last nights attempt at cooking. Sauce spills still on the counters that no one bothered to clean up. Empty packets of microwave rice littering the kitchen table, right next to the bin. I sigh. Then I breathe and make a mental note of a time today that I’ll get round to cleaning this mess that isn’t even mine. Because I’m the mom and this is what moms do, right?
Footsteps start to creep on the landing upstairs, I know the owner of these steps before the second has fallen on the threadbare carpet on the stairs. It’s Charlie. It’s light outside so he thinks it’s morning, an easy mistake he’s made everyday since the clocks went forward.
It’s 5:30am. Here he comes: “Hi mommy. Green milk?” He thrusts his empty beaker in my face and pleads for the Toddler equivalent of Gin. I do keep wondering when he’ll break his obsession with milk. He is 5 after all.
I hand it over and give him a hug. His warm chubby arms closed tightly around my neck. For a moment the mess of the kitchen vanished. Maybe because I was chocking? Maybe because loving my boy is more important than cleaning my house?
He sits himself on the couch, reaches for the remote that is half hidden under the baby and flicks on Netflix. Series of choice this week is My Little Pony. I swear I know the theme tune to a thousand kids programs, In fact, I’m pretty sure that might even count as a “skill” on my CV. “Ability to remember the most random useless shit imaginable.”
I sit with him for a while just looking at his face and the smile that creeps across it when he sees Rainbow Dash on the screen. How wonderful it must be to be a child. Then I remember the mess in the kitchen and realise the lounge is in no better a state.
I must get to work and get this place cleaned up. Edward is still snoozing on the couch from his 4:30am wake up. Charlie doesn’t even notice when I leave the room. Or maybe he did?
I take one more look at the mess that surrounds me, make another mental note to write down all the DIY jobs that need doing, then start to load the dishwasher. I contemplate making another cup of tea but remember I’ll probably never get time to drink it. Then, Charlie appears beside me; “mommy, twilight sparkle sad. Come look, I show you” – he takes my hand and pulls me back into the lounge, pointing with concern at the TV. “See, twilight sparkle sad”.
God, I love this kid. He’s so compassionate and thoughtful. He gives me a big hug around my waist and looks up at me with his big, wide, puppy dog eyes. “I love you Charlie” I say, still thinking about the kitchen. “Love you too, mommy” he replies not letting go, even slightly.
Then it hit me. This boy doesn’t care if his house is a mess. He doesn’t even care if I don’t get to finish my cup of tea. What he cares about is me being there for him when he needs to show me something on TV. He cares when I tell him I love him and give him hugs. He cares when I’m more interested in him, than doing the dishes.
“Charlie, do you want mommy to stay in here with you?” Without a word he pulls me over to the couch, sits me down then curls up beside me. “Charlie Mommy Friends”. They were the sweetest words I’ve ever heard.
The moral of this story? The dishes can wait. If your kid wants you to sit through 15 episodes of My Little Pony, you forget about those dishes and sit with your kid. Even if hearing the theme tune over and over makes you want to rip off your own ears. Why? Because kids need their mom more than they need a spotless house every minute of the day. Take a break mama, relax a bit. Have a day off and just do nothing. If you’ve got no dishes for dinner? Damn it, order takeout. Make yourself that cup of tea and sit on the couch until it’s finished. Laugh with your kid at the freaky shit cartoons do these days and remember your own old favourites like Budgie The Little Helicopter. Instead of worrying about buying a new kettle or replacing the carpet, order some new 2 for £15 toys and have your own play day with your kids.
Tomorrow is another day, but there are some days that need to be lived now. Sometimes, there are far more important things than doing those sodding dishes.
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