I’m stood on a platform after spending at most 15 minutes with the monkey face this morning after 48 hours’ absence. In the space of that time her life has continued as normal, albeit with rather more festivities than usual.
This morning she was fetching my mother’s dog’s toy and placing it on his bed for him; she declined her usual breakfast and asked for something she would prefer; she’s a dab hand at getting presents open; and she’s taken to saying nun-huh instead of “no thank you” (as a changophile, I grudgingly concede that not all change is good.) After even the slightest absence, you return to a child in a different place. Childhood is constant metamorphosis.
Such is life. I am in the final straits of the project of my working day, yet my other bookandbed life is a permanent project in constant flux. Having returned home close to midnight, I didn’t get to read with Monkeyface again, nor this morning during our snatched reunion. Tonight, I promise myself. And it will happen because whilst duty has kept me away, we find the time to do the things we love, like reading, writing and bookandbedding with Monkeyface. In the absence of reading with a small person, last night on the flight I found myself reading a book on my Kindle app todo list: Toast by Nigel Slater. A magical book, Slater is not significantly older than me and brought up barely 20 miles from my Midlands town. His evocations transported me to my own 70s Midlands childhood of cooking and eating and gardening with my maternal grandparents. That Nigel’s largely inhabited the decade before makes little difference as change happened slowly across those decades in the region. I found myself wondering about the childhood I am presently looming large in and my own absence from the day to day. I found myself – as all honest working parents do – wondering how much compromise is instructive and how much is too much. After a challenging, relentless few months of vigorous interaction, wondering whether my impact is meaningful. Whether my contribution, my legacy, is actually worthwhile. Whether I love it enough to justify the seismic of late impact to the ones I love.
A wise man or woman once responded to the question of how you can end up doing something that you love by answering, first love the thing what you are doing now. I would add to that, first love yourself, then the rest follows.
I hope you find the day contains more of the stuff you love.