I’m tired this morning; not sleeping well these days. The sunshine glaring through the kitchen window hurts my eyes, and I blink repeatedly as I fill the kettle. The wee man is calm at the moment, watching a DVD. I give thanks to God for DVDs; don’t think I could cope with the roaring and the frenzied clashing of toy tractors just now. I shake his cereal into the bowl and add milk, pour a glass of juice, then take his breakfast in and put it on the table in front of him. He is engrossed; doesn’t even seem to notice me, but as I return to the kitchen to make my coffee, he lifts a spoonful of loops. Then the shouting starts: Mummy! I dig into my reserves of patience, turn: what is it, pet? He is grimacing. This tastes yucky. It’s not fresh. Damn it. The milk’s off. I don’t like black coffee. I remove the offending cereal, make him toast with jam. I look at the label: ‘Mixed Fruit Value Jam.’ It’s thin, no fruit pieces in it. How have we come to this? Well, I tell myself, at least he doesn’t know it’s cheap stuff, it’s sweet and the right colour, and that’s all he cares about.
He’s big enough to strap himself into the car seat these days; it’s not a big thing, but it’s one less task for me to do, and I am thankful for that. I turn the key and watch in misery as the petrol gauge barely rises above empty. There is no money for petrol this week, but I have no choice; we have to go shopping. I work out what to cut from the list so that I can put a fiver’s worth in the tank to keep us going. As we get onto the main road into town, he looks straight ahead. He is unusually quiet today, so I comment on it, ask if he’s alright. He nods solemnly, then hits me with it: Mummy, why do people stop loving each other? I can’t answer. Fat tears roll down my face. He stares at me, aghast. I can’t stop.