I packed the kids bags last night, hung them on their hooks under puffy winter jackets. I put Steve’s lunch in the fridge, folded up my running clothes, tucked them into my gym bag.

We woke this morning, Leila coming in as soon as the alarm went off to cuddle with me until Steve stepped out of the shower. He opened the bathroom door and the steamed poured into the bedroom. Alena ran and climbed back into bed, I convinced her out with promises of reading books and playing Lego at daycare. The girls protested pants, I vetoed dresses due to the temperature. I dressed them, or at least helped, and sent them downstairs with Steve. Changed out of my cozy, still warm pj’s, brushed my teeth, my hair.

Downstairs I handed out yogurt and spoons, sent them to the table. Dumped frozen berries, protein, and milk into the blender, it spun loudly. Once for Steve and once for me. Poured frothy icy drinks into tall plastic cups, packed Steve’s lunch bag, chopped veggies for my salad. Marched the kids to the bathroom amid conversations about poop and dreams and big vs. small girls. Steve left in a flurry of kisses and I love you’s and see you tonight’s. The girls loudly brush teeth and put on boots, then stomp around in boots. Arms pushed through sleeves, toques pulled down over ears and I head out to start the car.

We pile onto the step, Wait for me to help you down the stairs, I instruct, It’s slippery. Into the car, backpacks and gym bags and soft dollies.

It’s the first daycare day since before Christmas.

The clomp, happily, into daycare, See my dolly! See my mittens! they shout to the cook and to the teachers and to their friends. I unravel them from their layers of winter garb, they run to their friends, glance back at me with a second thought and run in for a hug and a big kiss. I love you, I whisper into Leila’s ear, as I always do, but she’s already half gone, no longer listening. The ends of her hair lift as she turns and brush my face. I smell her. And she’s gone.

Alena runs through the doorway, leading me to her class, reluctant to put her doll back in her locker. You don’t want to lose her, I implore, and so she concedes. Doll stuffed into the locker and quickly forgotten. We open the door to her room and the teachers exclaim happily, Hello Alena! and she’s happy to be there too, hardly enough time for a kiss before she’s off to the book corner.

The car is oddly quiet, but I enjoy the silence after two weeks of Christmas buzz. I get to the gym and change into my running gear. 8k and then weights, a long hot shower to warm up. I take my time because I can and because there is no where I need to be and no one who needs me right now.

I eat lunch in the car, early, but I’m hungry already. I buy a coffee and head to class. It’s 11:30 and I speak my first words since 8:00.

I need the silence. It’s what I miss when the house is loud, though I always enjoy it at the time. I need the time when I’m not needed to make conversation or answer questions. I need the moments when I can just quietly observe other people while pretending to search for something on my phone.

Being a mother is so much different than I ever expected. The job is larger in scope than one assumes. Children, yes, but in taking care of them, I end up being the cleaner and the cook and the baker and the maker of beds and washer of laundry and packer of lunches. It’s hard and demanding and tiring. Rewarding, most definitely, the love alone is enough most days, but I have the blessing and honour of being with these two wonderful, kind-hearted people as they grow and learn and discover everything. But tiring, none-the-less. And though the love is beyond what one would anticipate, the monotony of required tasks often makes me feel redundant or under-appreciated.

But these days, these hours in silence that I get, the running and weights and the hot shower. The knowledge that I could leave and go back to bed if I wanted (not that I ever do, but theoretically, I could), it means a lot. And it recharges the battery that was drained yesterday by time-outs and laundry and scrubbing toilets, and even playing Barbies.

The best part of all of this solitude, is that I will be completely ready to greet the noise of my happy, healthy girls at four o’clock.

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