A working mother's day off is a special day, indeed
We walk hand in hand and he fills me in on his day's adventures at school. I hardly ever get to hear it so freshwithout time lapse and I pay close attention.
Today is one of those rarest of rare days when I have a holiday from work and my son has school. It also turns out to be a day that makes me realise the enormity of the small and big joys that I, a working mom with a school going kid, miss!
On this enchanted day I get a chance to help him get ready to school, to give some last minute reminders, carry his school bag (never knew it was so heavy!) and accompany him to the bus stop.
There are students from different schools waiting for their respective school buses, some on their own, most accompanied by a parent. Most of them are familiar with each other and indulge in easy banter while I stand out like an alien, wielding amused looks.
The bus arrives and my son starts moving to the bus with his friends to board the bus.
Suddenly he turns back, runs to me and gives me a hug. It warms the cockles of my heart as his arms go around my neck and I stand savouring that ethereal moment! It is after ages that I am seeing him off to school. I wave to him and wait there until the bus disappears from sight. An everyday routine for many is such an uplifting, soul stirring experience for me today!
I can't wait for him to get back from school and sure enough, I reach the bus stop quite early. The sweltering heat doesn't dampen my enthusiasm and when the bus appears around the bend, I am filled with a warm glow. The little one, (actually, not so little anymore!) jumps into my arms and that's when I realise that the feeling is mutual. His eyes shine with happiness and he too feels the magic of the moment.
We walk hand in hand and he fills me in on his day's adventures at school. I hardly ever get to hear it so fresh without time lapse and I pay close attention.
We have lunch together and he implores me to tell him a story like in the olden times. 'Aren't you a little too big for that?' I counter
His face suddenly clouds over. I can see the battle within him where a part of him wants to cling on to the innocence of childhood while the other part craves the independence and self-assuredness of being a grown up.
We crawl under the duvet, I tell him an oft-repeated story, and both of us fall fast asleep halfway through it.
I wake up while he is still asleep and sit next to him watching him sleep. I feel an ache in my heart. He is such a trusting little fellow, as all children are, full of zest for life and love for the world. How I would like to protect him from the barbs and the heartbreaks the future has in store for him but I know that he has to fight his own battles. Life is bound to give him lemons and nobody escapes the struggles. All we can do is equip our children to take life head on and learn to be happy, good human beings.
I try to pry away my hand from under his and he holds on to me tighter and asks me sleepily 'Why can't you be home everyday?'
How do I explain to him all the reasons why moms work? Instead, I smile and ask him if he would like an evening snack. He leaps out of the bed. 'What will you make?'
After much discussion and arguments, we arrive at a consensus. He helps me out chattering all the time and once snacking is done, the next demand pops up. He wants to go cycling in the park.
'How about homework?' I ask in my 'strict parent' voice. 'No homework', he says gleefully as he reaches for his cycle.
'And studies?' I persist. 'Mama, today is special. No studies'
Yes, son. Today is indeed special.
Tomorrow, you'd be all grown up and your brows will be creased with the world's worries. You may not call 'mama' a dozen times in an hour or follow me around. You may not even want to spend much time with me. That's how life unfolds and I will understand.
So let me make this day count.
The twilight paints the park in a golden hue, there's the cacophony of happy voices all around and I see him racing joyfully towards me. I close my eyes in a vain attempt to freeze time in these happy moments for tomorrow is not promised!
Annie Mathew is an educator and writer based in Dubai