Every so often, when the tired week is sliding into the promise of a weekend, there is a small, cherished moment in my life when the world hushes and I can hear myself think.
This comes about during the Friday night drive home from the trips Anna-mouse and I make to see her young London cohorts, offspring of my 'Yoga Girls', as I call them, the women I met as first-time mothers-to-be in pregnancy yoga class. These visits are both exhilarating and exhausting for the two of us, involving as they do 5 toddlers, 4 mothers, 1 baby and 1 nearly-newborn. But after much play, much talk, and a mound of fish fingers, we always pile into the car with a satisfying sense of an afternoon well-lived. There isn't much to beat the companionship of someone who knows exactly what you're going through - and that goes for both of us.
I time the drive to coincide with Anna-m's bedtime. We join the tail-end of a Friday night exodus from the city, and more often than not something about its orange neon crawl, the lateness of the hour and my own relaxed silence causes her to launch into a charming pre-sleep monologue. Story snippets, songs from Mary Poppins, and sightings of Mary herself waft their way from the backseat to me and then, suddenly, I will notice that all has fallen silent, and she is asleep.
Blessed moment. Blessed child.
I am on the A2 by now, headlights cutting through the dark. There is the long, steady drone of the engine. Occasionally, something classical put on low. But I'm silent. Secret. My thoughts are my own. I love the speed of the road after the stop-start of the city. I let others pass me, though: for this short moment I have no deadline. It doesn't matter when I reach home.
Slowly, slowly the thoughts I haven't been able to tend to all week begin to surface, gasping for air. I let them mull about, naked and casual after their confinement. It's not often that anything is actually solved or decided, but this quiet airing in the presence of my sleeping child gives me a pleasure which is rare.
The house is fairytale cosy as I carry her in, a warm, snuffling bundle on my shoulder. There is magic in the air. I tuck her into the cot, she murmurs a little and turns over. There will be no struggle tonight.