I lie sprawled on the couch. My feet touching Saathi’s as he is stretched out at the other end. Laddu crawls back and forth aligning herself to the planes and angles of his body and the curves and contours of mine. I lie not asleep but in a deep state of exhaustion after what has been an overwhelming day running behind three kids. He is trying to sleep off the tiredness that follows the weekend chores and a full day at work. Music plays from his phone which is currently upstairs in one of the twins’ hands. I hear the footfalls traverse the entire length of the house. I should be getting them ready for the bath. I should be getting dinner ready. I should be folding the baskets of laundry that are perched on top of the table. I should be bagging up those clothes I sorted into piles in the corner of my closet. The should haves and the could haves haunt me.
My pink skirt is spread like a colorful blanket around me. The color catches my eye and I reluctantly consider getting up. “How I wish I went back to the days before children. Just for a day.” The thought rushes past my head before I can acknowledge what I am thinking. I sit up, mortified by my thought. What would I tell my thirty or thirty-five year old self?
Plenty I realize.
For each evening she spent on the couch, laptop on her lap, sleep eluding her. I would have urged her to put aside the research on infertility, the obsessive haunting of the infertility boards and to look at Saathi in the eye, hold his hands and head out for a walk. I would have asked her to invite friends over impromptu without worrying about the state of the home or the perfection of the food she wanted to serve, for company would be such a rare commodity just years down the line. I would have pleaded with her to focus less on the imperfections in their life and focus instead on what a lovely couple they made. I would have reminded her to spend time writing notes to her spouse instead of her unborn children for those present in your life need more attention than the ones who are still in the future. I would have urged her to heed the end of day exhaustion and order take out instead of slaving over a hot meal when that was the last thing she wanted to do. For a mere five years later, she will still be slaving over that stove just that the responsibility that comes with kids is so much more than fending for oneself.
I would have told her to go on long drives, stay rooted on the couch, binge watch Netflix, organize that school reunion, visit those cousins in London, stay with friends, travel solo to meet friends from her sisterhood. I would have urged her to worry less about starting a family and invest more in that time with her spouse which would be a rarity later. I would have told her to soak up those nieces and nephews of hers for once her spawn arrived, the rest would fall behind in the natural order of things. I would have urged her to book a weekend at the city thirty miles away with her spouse, walk through downtown in the wee hours of the night, let silence envelop them in a familiar hug and wake up long past the morning sun.
The music sounds much nearer now and I snap out of my reverie. As much as the past is gone and there is so much I could have done, could have been. The present is here beckoning me. I can almost see myself writing a note to the present me urging me to soak up the kids and the responsibility that comes with them. For a few years down the line, the empty nest waits with silences that will be louder than the cacophony that surrounds me now.