On Saturday I dozed past my wake-up time, not caring to seize the day. Rising late, I skipped my exercise routine in favour of something more indulgent: reading the paper and munching on a delicious breakfast. I would make myself toast with avocado, sliced ginger and fresh tomato, with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. It would be like a pre-Covid café break.
I had the paper open, the coffee made and the avo toast ready when my phone buzzed. It was my son, calling from his room. His day was ready to begin. Mine, I put on pause. Using the momentum of his rising, it was easy to encourage him into the shower. Once that was done, it was no big deal for me to put his porridge on the stove. Back in the bathroom, he responded well to my prompts for him to wash his armpits and he let me shampoo his hair. When he was well rinsed off, he held my hand for balance as he turned off the taps (hot first,I reminded him) and stepped out safely. I dried his back and reminded him to focus on drying the bits between his head and his knees that he tends to disregard. In his room, I helped him choose clothes appropriate to the weather which was cold, like my coffee.
Leaving him to dress himself, I alternately munched my toast and stirred his porridge. From the table, the paper mocked me. Why did I respond so promptly to someone else’s needs and neglect my own desires?
If I’d responded to my son’s call with a “You get ready, then come and eat,” I would have had time to enjoy a hot coffee and get in a few good bites of my fresh snack, but he would have appeared in yesterday’s clothes and refused to shower. We would most likely have argued.
If I had hopped out of bed when I first woke and done my exercises in quiet and contemplative solitude, I’d have felt more centred, less focused on my appetite and more on being present to the offerings (or demands) of the moment. I’d have timed my ‘café time’ for later and enjoyed it more. This I knew but it didn’t stop me from feeling mildly depressed for the rest of a dark and rainy Saturday in locked-down Melbourne.