I look up. There’s a small scraping sound at the door. The knob is being turned, tentatively. I furrow my brow and purse my lips because I know that there is a five year old out in the hall.
From bed I shout: “Go away.”
“But mom, I just want to tell you something.”
“Not now, I’m working. Talk to Daddy, he’s in charge.”
“But I want to tell you something. It’s just a little thing.”
I sigh deeply, a burning feeling of annoyance in the centre of my chest. I place the laptop safely on the bed, peel myself off the cushions, and go open the door. “What, darling firstborn?”
“I don’t do that every day, I do that on Saturdays. One morning a week that daddy is in charge. Now, that is not an urgent question, get out of here.”
“Mom...I need your help. I can’t get my zip up.”
“Go ask Daddy.”
“But I’m cold...he can’t hear me...”
I roll my eyes and make a hard, forced frown with my lips that gives my cheeks a funny chipmunk look. Laptop off, get up, go to the door, open it. There stands five year old, half naked.
“Here.” I zip him up. Rub his hair. “Now, get out of here and don’t bother me again. I’ve only got two hours.”
“What are you doing?” He peers around me and into the room.
“On the computer?”
“Yes, now go.” I try to close the door.
He sticks his little hand out, stopping the door before it meets the frame. I notice that I have to clip his nails. “Can I play a Computer game?”
“You know better than that. Get out of here.”
“Just one. The one with the Australian animals. Putting out the fire.”
“Huh? You can play later. After I’m done. Get out of here and leave me alone or you won’t play on that thing again this month.”
“Oh...OK...” Five year old turns and backs away, capitulating. As he turns, however, the door to the dining room downstairs bangs open. Two year old stands in the doorway below, looking both forlorn and angry at the same time. Through the wooden mesh filigree of the banister rails he spots me in the doorway of my bedroom on the top floor.
“Oh, crud.” I back away and try to close the door as quickly as possible.
Two year old, alarmed, calls, “Mammy!”
I turn the lock. If two year old gets in, he’ll climb the bed and start pounding on the keyboard. It’ll be mayhem.
I hear clambering up the stairs on all fours. ‘Where the heck is my husband?’ I wonder about now.
Two year old starts pounding on the bedroom door, “Mammy! MAMMY! I WANT MAMMY!”
Guilt creeps up on me. It’s starts at the small of my back and works its way up my spine, leaving a dark shadow at every vertebrae. Following hot on its heels is an even worse feeling: resentment. This one swoops in from above my right side. It’s a bright yellow colour and settles on my shoulder, laying like a chunk of lead I fear I won’t be able to lift on my own.
I huddle on the bed, under blanket and laptop (the combination of which is making my thighs sweat). I start tapping away at the keys, slowly, building in intensity, thoughts in my head fighting their way through the noise of the kids at door yelling for me. I don’t like ignoring them. It’s difficult. But this is my time.
Eventually, after what seems like years but is probably only 60 seconds, husband arrives at the door and ushers our crazed offspring away. The yelling recedes down the hall and is then muffled by the closing of the hall door to the dining room. I continue typing.