Time seemed to slow. The half eaten sandwich on Pattani’s plate mocked me. I surveyed the space around me. Lunch bags half filled, the stove messy, the sink cluttered and my eyes scanning the clock as if staring at it would magically cause the next half hour to fly past and let the blessed emptiness surround me.
Struggling to dress Pattani I pulled the tee-shirt down her head in a swift motion. Fitting her arms through tiny arm holes, her face suddenly looked babyish to me. Tear streaked cheeks, glistening tears in her eyes, hair all trussed up. For a moment I wanted to give in. Let her be.
The past ten days have been a study in contrasts. Ammu and Pattu started swim lessons. Some days were bad, some joyous. Today was a bad day. “I want to stay home” sobbed pattu holding on to my faded tee. Carrying her to the kitchen island, I sat her down and hugged her wordlessly. We rocked back and forth. Mom and daughter clinging to each other for what seems eons. The sobs died down and the breathing became even. I brushed through her silky hair repeating she did not have to go if she did not want to. “Go to school” I urged her. You can ask appa to skip classes in the evening.
Perhaps it was the warmth in my voice or the sheer exhaustion of a meltdown but she calmed down enough to walk to the car. I waved and turned back to the emptiness that did not seem as blessed now. The day passed with me crunching code. Rubbing my temples at the end of a rather fruitless day, I attacked the sink with vigor. The tears from the morning rushed back to me.
Where we doing the right thing? Do our kids need to learn swimming? When do we push and when do we let go? Another day and the swim classes will be over. At least for now. There are countless other classes and countless teary days ahead. The questions however haunt me.