I dropped the girls off with their father and cycled from his place to the mini-Delhaize, a grocery store that is open on Sundays. I did my bit of shopping, then cycled home. It was not yet 11 am and the streets were still calm and mostly shady, and it was sunny but not too warm, and there were hardly any cars. What a fine feeling that is: cycling through the quiet city streets. Right up there with swimming in the sea. What is it about motion, that provides this sensation of freedom?
As I approached my building I crossed paths with a woman I'd seen earlier this morning -- I'd bought croissants from her at another little store. Now she was walking down the street with a little girl of about 3 years, and pushing a smaller child in a pushchair. We recognized each other and said hello. And I felt a twinge of guilt about my lovely freedom -- I'm free, I'm nobody's mother for the next eight hours, and here's this woman who was up at god knows when to work at a shop, and now with her kids...
I know, it's a little crazy: this woman looked perfectly happy. And here I am, perfectly free for a day, practically reaching for straws of maternal guilt.
When in actual fact, I've paid my dues: I've had those Sundays, countless Sundays, on my own with the girls, one on foot and one in a pushchair, walking very slowly. And I go to work and worry: how in the world it will all come together? Somehow it does, or at least it has been; somehow it seems to be holding all right. I can't look at that part too closely, though, it's like looking down from a great height -- I'm afraid it's like in the cartoons, you know: walking on air between two cliffs, and it's OK so long as I don't realize that I'm not walking on a bridge...
So if I now unpack the groceries, make an egg salad sandwich and listen to some Bach, it isn't as though I'm not grateful. Believe me: grateful I am.
9 hours ago