(Roses my Poppet picked and carefully placed in holes she dug in the garden, before she left)
The kids, my Beloved and my father-in-law are on their way home now.
They've driven about half the distance down from Queensland and are stopped in Dubbo for the night, with a ten hour drive before them tomorrow.
They've been gone nearly a week. This will be the sixth night that they're away. My Sprocket tells me he's had 'the best holiday ever.'
I've been trying to remember the last time I was alone in a house for any length of time, without a baby or toddler or preschoolers with me. The last time I slept in a bed, just me (okay, and the dog) and I had to cast my mind back… more than five years to when my Sprocket was summersaulting inside me.
My Beloved had gone to work in Vanuatu and, being heavily pregnant, I hadn't been allowed to join him. I'd asked scores of doctors and travel agents and the nicer ones hadn't laughed as they'd explained there was no way I'd get travel insurance in my advanced state, so my dreams of a lovely tropical baby moon, lounging poolside while my Beloved worked, were scuttled.
Instead I went down to the family beach house and waited for my Baby and for my Beloved to return for the birth. I remember long walks, long baths, candles, music, calm birth classes, visualisations and long one-sided conversations with my Sprocket, awe at the braxton hicks, and feeling very ponderous, heavy and happy. Life slowed to the sound of the sea and the movements of my baby within.
Now, I'm alone in a house again, with only the dog sleeping by me, and the much softer flutterings of my third, and last, baby within, but I'm out of practice of being alone.
The night-sky outside seems very large. I jump at noises. While the first night I luxuriated in all the space and the remarkable rested feeling when I woke without small arms flung over my throat, small knees pressed into my tummy, and yet… it just feels… odd. Skew-wiff.
Through open windows I can hear the birds scuttling in the garden. I light candles without fear of the kids setting their hair alight. Fill vases with flowers without fear of them being tipped.
I spend time talking to my littlest one within, singing to it, willing it to kick a little more. I make the food my family won't eat - chunky lentil soups and stewed fruits, tuna pastas and rice puddings. I have plans for a long, luxurious bath involving a home made body scrub and rose petals. I stay up late - reading and writing past midnight and then sleeping in - no falling asleep with the kids at 7.30, half-way through a lullaby. It feels ridiculously decadent.
And yet… it feels so strange that not once during the day do I have small, warm hands in mine, piping voices telling me the precise way they want their toast, long involved stories poured out, centipedes thrust at me to admire.
On Skype and on the phone their voices sound so little. Their presence is so big, when they are here I suppose I've started thinking of them as big. But they sound so young.
It's been so lovely to stretch, unwind, sleep. There is no way I would have finished my fifty-thousand words in a month to complete NaNoWriMo if I hadn't had this time. Or managed to sneak away all the excess toys and broken oddments. I am excessively grateful to my Beloved for giving me this time. To dream. To think. To write. To begin to think about getting organised.
But I'm so glad my family will be home tomorrow!