I love my children ’til my heart hurts. There is no other way to say it. I watch my first born, my beautiful sweet seven year old, struggle with so much at the moment and I feel so unable to help him. Even if I knew what was wrong, I don’t know if I can help him right now. I watch my six year old sniffing his way through a cold that threatens to hospitalise him, unable to prevent the course it might take. I see my three year old struggling with the fact that he is a baby in a big boys’ world. I want to protect him but he doesn’t want me to; ‘I’m not a BABY, Mummy‘ and I hold my breath silently as I watch him fight for his place in the family. I cuddle my baby, who has nine – nine! – teeth erupting at once and who cannot physically cope with it. He whimpers at me night and day, and so I leave the chores undone to love him. I struggle through the day on no sleep (those teeth) and hope that tonight will be better, even though the last five have been desperate.
I love my children ’til my heart hurts. There is every way to say it. I take my eldest out of school for the day, his worries about school palpable and driving our family apart. We do some (illicit) homeschool and the day flows just the way I remember it, with learning part of our everyday life, him happy and relaxed, cuddling me for the first time in weeks. I lay my six year old on the sofa and ply him with drinks, medicine and cuddles, and a few hours later I see soap inside the top of the tap and I know he must be feeling better, the hallmarks of his naughtiness as clear as if he had left fingerprints. My obstreperous three year old appears for a cuddle with the same book in his hand that we have read three times today already. I laugh and swing him onto my lap, ready to read it again, but not before he buries his head into my neck whispering ‘I love you Mummy, I’m your BABY!‘ and laughing. My other (proper) baby runs in from the garden emitting broad exclamations, excitement flooding his movements. I can hear from here that the plougher has come and is outside our window, turfing up the soil ready for winter and a new season of growth – it’s more than any of them can bear and they run outside like a living river, snaking out of the door and I think two minutes of peace and then, no, today’s such a good day, my boys are here at home with me and all is well so I join them outside, the sun shining and I look at them and I think yes, ’til my heart hurts.