Sunday nights are my favourite, especially in Autumn.
Our weekends are normally quite busy. We’re out and about running errands that I haven’t managed to get done in the week. Or we’re exploring new places. Or swapping books at the library and spending hard-saved pocket money in Waterstone’s. Or we’ve been out for a daytrip somewhere interesting. Or we’ve scrambled to do homework in between playing cards and Lego and colouring and baking and tickle fights with Sophie.
In contrast, Sunday nights are slow.
Tea is cooked and (mostly) eaten, the conversation varying from what each considers to have been the best part of the weekend to wondering what they’re going to do at school in the upcoming week to discussing the places in the world we’d most like to visit and why.
Plates are scraped, chairs are hastily tucked and they scatter upstairs, undressing as they go.
A warm bath is run, the bubbles clambering up the sides only to be reimagined as a bubble-beard or used to fashion a funky Mohican hair-do. Shampoo gets washed out of stinging eyes because no matter how many times I remind them to tilt their heads back and keep their eyes closed someone inevitably forgets. Enveloped in towels I cuddle them dry, feeling their smallness in comparison to me and remembering when they were smaller still, marvelling at every freckle and expression that is totally their own as they chat to me one-to-one, questioning and querying, their inquisitive minds never resting. I inhale their scent, a glorious mixture of everything that they are.
Pyjamas are pulled up to soft tummies and down over tangled locks, which I brush slowly, methodically, teasing out the knots and tangles as gently as I can (and never quite succeeding). The heat from the hairdryer makes me sweat but I love watching them watch themselves in the mirror, making faces at their reflections and standing on one leg like flamingos, their eyes occasionally catching mine as we smile at each other and I do my best to absorb the moment, as I do every Sunday, so that it stays with me forever. I quietly hope that they always look the mirror and love and accept themselves in the way they do now.
They tumble downstairs and flop on the sofa, a tangle of legs and arms and heads resting on shoulders. Growing feet with still-little toes peeking over the edge of the coffee table they’re resting on. Gazing at the television, mesmerised by the colours and sounds of Blue Peter, or The Great British Bake-Off, or Strictly Come Dancing – whichever programme they’ve chosen to spend their last few precious minutes of freedom on.
Outside, the light starts to fade.
I potter, picking up discarded socks and empty cups and dropped teddies, returning them to where they belong (knowing full well that they’ll be back again tomorrow).
I find space between them, armed with their reading books. And one-by-one they snuggle on to my lap, my arms encircling them, my nose buried in the hair at the nape of their neck as they read to me. Each so different and each intoxicating to listen to. Soon my lap will be too small to hold them all and I feel sad at that thought, before comforting myself that my arms will always have space for each of them and my heart will only continue to grow and expand as they continue to fill every part of it as the days go by.
Finally, it is time for bed. After the standard protests – which for some reason on a Sunday I can tolerate calmly and lovingly – they trudge upstairs to brush their teeth before settling into their beds and wiggling further under the soft duvet until only their eyes are visible. Kisses and cuddles (and then just a few more) before I leave them and switch off the light, turning to utter the same words that I do every night, before gently closing the door behind me.
Sunday nights are definitely my favourite nights.