He asked again.
The question I dread.
The one that makes me overthink and sends me into a spiral of emotions.
An abyss of mammy guilt.
It’s been a while.
I’ve enjoyed that while.
He snuggled in next to me, so early that it was still dark outside.
I felt his breath on my cheek, his eyes still sparkling in the half-light.
“Mam, why can’t one of my parents stay home too like [friend]’s?”
He knew the answer.
I’d explained it before.
“You know why” I started.
As I launched into my script, wiping the sleep from my eye as I did.
Explaining that Mammy likes to work, that working keeps all the things I learned in college alive in my brain.
That our family uses the money that Mammy’s work brings.
I pointed out the positives. Selling it.
Mammy’s job now means I’m home all day every Wednesday and can work from home.
And isn’t that so much better than the last job.
“I know” he said, “but it would be good to have you around more”
“I am around more” I said, perhaps too quickly “Remember the last job, I was so much later collecting you”
“And sure you’re in school most of the time I’m not here” I countered, biting my lip.
My gut twisted, heartstrings tugged violently.
“And aren’t I so much nicer to you when we’re not stuck together all the time?”
“Yeah, I suppose so”.
He looked thoughtfully, I braced myself for the next question.
“Can I get breakfast now?”
He got back to normal, just like that.
Not me, my gut continued to twist for hours.
That useless emotion that wastes so much energy.
I wouldn’t let it consume me, there was no point.
So I bought a lottery ticket and chose to briefly forget how hard the at-home days are.
Fingers crossed. Gut untwisted.