‘Mummy’ my little boy said to me as I put his bedtime story book down on the nightstand and snuggled into bed next to him for a goodnight cuddle.
‘Can I tell you something?’ he said putting a small chubby hand on each of my cheeks and turning my head to face him, looking deep into my eyes.
I smiled and stroked his hair off his forehead, thinking how sweet it was to feel his warm breath on my face and smell the syrupy fragrance from his bubble bath on his skin. ‘Of course you can’.
‘Can you take me to see the fireworks this year? I don’t want to go with the Beavers and Brownies, I want to be with you’
The look in his eyes made my breath catch in my throat and my heart skipped a beat. I knew I had been working a lot recently and I hadn’t realized just how much my little boy had missed me.
I promised him then and there that I would clear my schedule so we could have a family night at the bonfire and firework display, before kissing him and heading downstairs.
I thought back to all of the family occasions I had missed out on taking my son to over the last four years due to work commitments. Birthdays, Easter egg hunts, Christmas Pantomimes, I hadn’t even managed to celebrated a mother’s day with him yet. An unexpected sadness crushed my chest. I wished I could make it up to him, I always tried to spend my days off doing activities that he would enjoy, but I often worked at weekends so that wasn’t always possible. I remembered all the firsts I had missed. I had missed his first steps, his stay and play days at nursery, I had even had to ask the teacher if we could rearrange his parent teacher evening to a different night. I had always managed to make it to the big events, the nativity play, or sports afternoon, but he noticed my absence drastically from daily life and often asked when I would next have a free day to take him and collect him from school.
I need to work in order to pay the bills, however I want my son to look back on his childhood and be able to remember the fun times we shared as a family. I want him to remember the trips to the beach where the sea was cold and we built the huge sandcastle that the dog then knocked down, crunching on tiny grains of sand in our picnic sandwiches. I want him to remember carving pumpkins on crisp autumn nights and the dark cold Christmas mornings when filled with excitement we ran down the stairs to see if Santa had been. And I want him to remember the Guy Fawkes nights where we stood on the damp muddy ground in the park with sparklers, stamping our feet to stay warm and listening to the crowd ‘oooh’ and ‘aaahh’ as explosions of colour erupt over our heads.
Sometimes I have to remind myself to take a step back from the rush of everyday life and appreciate the little moments. The feel of the tiny soft hand, fragile in my own, the chubby arms wrapped tight around my neck holding me so tight, and the sweet mornings when my son wakes me as dawn breaks just to be close to me. It’s not always easy to do when there is always one more chore to be done or I crave an hours extra sleep. But childhood is short, and soon my son will no longer need me as he does now, and so I will be grateful for every sleepless second and sacrifice I have to make for him.