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Donnelle's World

LJ Idol week 37 - Quick Fire

LJ Idol week 37 - Quick Fire

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Me 2015
Eleanor was happy with her life, until she wasn't. It came upon her quite suddenly one day, when she was filling out her daughter's baby book. First smile? First tooth? First word? Eleanor tried to remember, but it all blurred into a drift of exhaustion, jumbled with memories of Jasmine's big brothers. A first smile isn't quite so exciting when three other babies have done it before.

She stared at the page, with the accusing blank spaces. Ryan, Isaac and David had their books all filled out. She had to do it for Jasmine, too, or it wouldn't be fair. Let's see... smiles happened at about six weeks... add a day so it's not so obvious, that'd do. Teeth around three months. "Dada" at around 10 months. Close enough.

Eleanor closed the book and yawned. There were still dishes waiting to be done, and laundry to fold, but she'd taken this time to fill out the baby book before Jasmine's first birthday next week. Some things couldn't wait, but laundry could. There'd be more tomorrow, always.

Time for bed. Sam had gone to bed hours ago; he left for work early to avoid the traffic, so this time of the night was hers, precious and still. It was tempting to linger, to luxuriate in the peace, but Eleanor knew she'd regret it in the morning. Her sleep debt was a carefully balanced budget, and she had to meet the payments.

She groaned as she stood up. Legs that had once climbed mountains were now limited to striding behind a pushchair, and things weren't as easy as they used to be. Eleanor wandered through the house, turning off lights, checking windows and doors, and collecting stray socks to throw in the bathroom hamper.

A sock fell to the floor as she dropped a handful into the hamper, and she stooped to pick it up. As she stood, she found herself facing her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The light was harsh, and Eleanor found herself staring at her face as though at a stranger.

Later, she lay awake in bed, staring at the dark ceiling as Sam's snores kept her from dropping into sleep, and pondered. Her children's lives were filled with firsts; first step, first day at school, first sleepover. Their firsts were recognised, recorded and remembered. Some more than others, but still significant in some way.

What about her firsts?

Eleanor couldn't think of any.

Maybe she was too old for firsts. Maybe all her life offered now was lasts, slipping by unnoticed, unneeded.

The thing about lasts, Eleanor decided, is that they go unmarked by the knowledge that they are a last, until they have faded into the past. When was the last time she danced? She loved to dance. Jiggling to The Wiggles didn't count. The last time she climbed a mountain? That was the day, sixteen years ago, when she had her last first kiss. Sam had finally admitted that he'd only joined the tramping club to be near her, and Ryan had come along a bare eleven months later.

When was the last time someone had looked at her appreciatively, with an interest not founded on wedding vows? She couldn't remember. Such a minor thing, and sometimes unwanted, but right now the lack of it seemed the very essence of growing old.

Eleanor sighed and rolled over in bed. Sam echoed her action in his sleep, and his snores finally faded away. His arm slid over her, pulling her close. "Love you," he murmured.

Warm in his familiar embrace, the tension ebbed from her body, and Eleanor drifted into sleep at last.
  • A first smile isn't quite so exciting when three other babies have done it before.

    Without children of my own, I don't know what it's like to run into a routine like this. I like to think that my parents took some joy in the way that my middle sister and I doted over my baby sister and lost our shit over every little achievement. Or maybe they were just bored. At five years old, I really can't remember.

    This story of exhaustion is actually quite sweet. Sure there's a sense of duty and low-grade frustration, but there's also a sense of love that even loads and loads laundry can't kill (considering how many loads I do during the week for just two people and how that wears me out, I get overwhelmed just thinking about adding three more into the mix.)

    Her sleep debt was a carefully balanced budget, and she had to meet the payments.

    I like the way you put this.
    • My initial version ended at "Maybe she was too old for firsts. Maybe all her life offered now was lasts, slipping by unnoticed, unneeded." but I decided it was a little too bleak ;)

      And thanks - I particularly like that line, and it speaks to my experience!

      And thanks for commenting. Was starting to think everyone hated this one. :/

      Edited at 2015-02-11 08:09 am (UTC)
      • Comments are weird. I found that I would get a ton of votes for pieces with the fewest comments.

        I'm a Golden Rule kind of guy, so I will comment on everything I read, even if I don't vote for them. Me, I'd rather get a comment than just a little click in a poll.
        • I've had vice versa too - really appreciative comments on a piece that put me in the bottom 9though with immunity). Eh, what can you do?
  • You've done a great job here capturing that itchy feeling so many mothers experience at some point or another. I'm glad you let her fall asleep and hopefully that sleep will be healing and she wakes with renewed energy and joy.
    • Thanks so much. This piece is pretty personal and currently relevant, as you might have guessed.
  • Ah, the "Is this it?" feeling that all parents experience (surely it can't be just mothers). Nicely illustrated, good to read that she finds some peace again at the end :-)
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