It is drizzling, water spraying on me from trees bent with rain water. I skip over one puddle to land right in the middle of another. Rivulets of water snake past my feet as I move towards my car. I am in no particular hurry. My bag dangles from one arm, my phone on the other. I wipe the glass surface on my tee shirt and notice turmeric stains on it. I smile because it is Friday and also because of the strange lightness of being that comes from being sans kids around me.
The music is upbeat and I dance within the constraints of the seat belt and the fact that I am driving. Pulling into the driveway, I am reluctant to go inside. The earth smells fresh, the damp in the air is refreshing, the greenery around seems to have peaked in anticipation of its inevitable fall. I let myself inside the house and look around. There is so much that needs tending. I start with the kitchen, letting the music from my phone give me company.
I rinse each plate, scrubbing dried on chutney and hardened cheese. The plates are a relic from Ammu and Pattu’s daycare days. They show squiggly doodles and their names in an unsteady hand. I pause remembering the moment just before Ammu walked out the door this morning.
“Don’t worry Amma! I can handle it.”
“Worrying is my duty. That’s all I do!” I replied as I zipped up her hoodie and handed a working umbrella as she walked away.
The freedom I feel each morning after the kids are away comes from setting that worry down. Worry about being on time for school. Worry about packing healthy lunches. Worry about making sure they have what they need for class. Worry about making sure their water bottles have fresh water. Worry about the zillion inane things that eat at me, press down on me and cover me like a lead blanket. I operate each morning trying to wrest free of these things that bind me.
I soap and line the plates all facing the same way. I start on the bowls next. My dishwasher is a sight to behold when I am done.
“I should worry about myself and stop worrying about them”
The thought startles me by its insistence. I wonder what will happen if I stopped worrying. If I let things be. Will the kids meander down ten minutes before the bus? How many days will it take before they realize that if they do not make the bus they stay home? How many weeks will it be before homework will be done and packed without me having to tend to it?
The thoughts feel like flights of fancy. I poke around, rearranging them, wondering all the while if I could institute some measures that take some pressure off me.
I collect the clothes strewn on the breakfast table, fold them and carry them upstairs. I pass the twins’ rooms and sigh with satisfaction at the sight of beds made, clear floors and spanking new painted walls. I put the clothes away and see four towels in the bathroom. I realize with a start that the kids now bathe themselves. They do things I used to do for them just a few months back.
I almost feel giddy with the newfound knowledge. There will be a time when my worries will change the sheer physicality of things to far more complex stuff. Perhaps then I will long for the simplicity for today’s cares?