“I’m so tired I can eat a horse.”
That’s how muddled my brain was, mixing metaphors and all as I wait for my Grab to finally drop me off. Traffic was bad (when was it not?) and I really needed to pee badly, eat ten pieces of chicken nuggets, and finally get that much-needed sleep, in that order. My body is so tired and ready for bed but I know that an early bedtime may very well be impossible tonight.
I open the door, take a deep breath, readying myself for the chaos that will greet me. I was met with silence.
I see him sitting in his favorite chair, reading a book as always. I actually can’t remember the last time I got home and saw him without a book. But I don’t mind of course. He looks up from whatever new mystery has gripped him, smiles distractedly (but adorably, if I say so myself), then goes back to his book while asking me the usual “how was your day, love?” question. While still reading. He can multi-task like that. I am not offended, coz that’s how he has always been and maybe that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him, come to think of it.
I sit beside him, give him a quick kiss, put my feet on his lap and he absent-mindedly starts rubbing them, knowing how I need it every day. It’s one of the things that I look forward to the most when I get home.
I remind him that I have to sleep early and wake up at 2AM because my Barcelona (that’s a football team in case you didn’t know) has a game. “Again? Giving up sleep for football? You’re such a geek!”. (This coming from the man who has read Lord of the Rings a hundred times.) “You know how I love my football,” I protest. “You mean the abs?” he smirks. Well, that too of course. He knows me too well.
Then I hear the sound of small feet on the stairs and I brace myself for a noisy hug attack.
A 4 year old bundle of joy rushes into my arms and peppers me with her never-ending questions, never waiting for answers, just needing to get the words out of her preternaturally curious head. Yes, we’re apparently at the stage of the whys and the why nots and it’s both cute and terrifying.
“’Do we really have to take a nap in the afternoon to grow taller? Didn’t you take naps when you were a kid coz you’re still short now? Why do I have to wait til I’m 6 to go to a real school? If we don’t believe in Santa Claus but others kid believe in him, will he become real someday? Why does my playmate not have a TV in his house? How will he know what will happen to PJ Masks next? How come all kids have to eat their veggies but you don’t eat some of yours?”
I inhale her lemongrass scent and try to make sense of her questions and I try to answer them when she allows me to butt in. But I know I never will be able to answer them all to her satisfaction. And so I just breathe her in.
He reminds me that maybe it’s time to eat already and it’s getting late and well, he was really hungry. “Then why don’t you cook dinner yourself” is my initial thought and then I have to remind myself that I cook better than him anyway and that this is part of what I signed up for. And so I figure out the quickest one I can make for my cute-but-grumpy-when-im-hungry husband and my lovely-but-rambunctious-due-to-chocolates-she-consumed daughter.
He reluctantly tosses his book aside and drags the little girl away from me to play with her while I cook, and reminding me he promises to do the dishes after because he knows I have to sleep early for abs (and apparently he likes doing my most hated chore anyway). My heart swells because I prayed for someone who totally gets me. He does totally get me. Most of the time at least.
As I prepare the pasta and chicken nuggets, I also wonder how I got to this point when just a few years ago I accepted that having a family was not for me. And yet here I am, four years later, cooking dinner and getting ready to sit down to a such a cliche picture of a small family dinner.
As we sit down the table, I smell the coffee brewing in the background and I listen to her incessant chatter and watch him lovingly look at her and then at me. And I take a deep breath and I say to myself, “This is the life."
My fork falls to the floor and I bend to pick it up. When I get up, I realize that the table is empty. The room is filled with me, my coffee, my thoughts. No one else.
And my heart breaks just a little for myself and the “family" that lived in my head for those few minutes. There was a twinge that lasted a few minutes. A tear or two fell. And then I take a deep breath and whisper a prayer and think about what I have now.
And I look forward to the next time they might appear again. Or maybe it’s a glimpse of the future. Or maybe in an alternate universe they do exist.
But until then (if there will ever be a then), I eat my chicken nuggets and live.