I glanced out of the window and saw them sauntering by. The familiar faces chatting and laughing. The same people as usual trailing behind the group. I couldn’t hear their words, their voices lost in the impenetrable wall of sound that is a baby’s cry. Only one of their party was missing. Left out not through malice, but by choice.
Because now, she sits behind the window. Watching life go on around her, as if nothing had ever changed.
The changes you don’t expect
I suppose I never thought of it before having children. I knew things would change, of course I did. But you only think about the big things.
The sleepless nights, the nappies, the milestones. Time off work or giving it up completely. The hours spent at the beck and call of a mini dictator. How it would all be worth it to see that first smile, hear them say mummy and embrace those tentative toddler steps.
But somehow, I didn’t think of the little things. The subtle ways my life would change. How I’d be so exhausted from days spent living the moments of childhood with them. The way I’d fritter away the evenings doing mundane jobs, just so I didn’t have to do them when they were awake.
I never imagined that I’d be the one to say no. To turn down invitations so many times that people stopped asking. And I couldn’t have dreamed of watching those I was closest to in my former life walking down the same street. The same old gang, carrying on without me. As if nothing had changed, as though nobody was missing.
Not looking back
I felt suddenly sad that not one of them glanced over. Not a wistful smile or an acknowledgement of the way things used to be. No recognition of the footsteps that once echoed beside theirs. Because now, that one set of footsteps has become four.
Outside the window, life goes on. A car glides past, splashing up a wave of dirty water. A ginger cat sits on a windowsill waiting to be let in. Somewhere up the street a door slams. And then all is quiet.
Inside, the baby has stopped crying. The microwave pings and then silence. I listen to the sound of my own breathing. And life goes on.
Behind the window.