“Alexa, play It’s The Final Countdown.”

Illustration of a Woman running in Central Park
Last night Lilou had a bath by (LED) candle light whilst listening to The Final Countdown pretty loud on repeat. It was echoing across the landing as I folded the clean underpants and cleared up the last of the chocolate wrappers strewn under his bed from poorly disguised midnight festive bingeing.
It was the last evening of the holidays and it felt quite apt. I love 10 year old’s choices. (Sometimes).
“Alexa. Play The Final Countdown.” I heard being uttered. Now for the third time. Mathilde walked past, muttered “FFS” and disappeared into her room, with a familiar slam of the door.
I felt a pang of sadness. I’m not sure why. Accumulative I think. Probably a January thing. Back to life. My teenager feeling so distant, my commitment to work, and its eternally complex politics, my youngest who gets sad sometimes, because his father left the country and he sees him about 3 times a year, and my failure to create any drawings for about a month, despite 2 weeks of that being holiday. Maybe my hormones. Maybe the winter. Perhaps I shall stop the list now. Time to force upon myself a post it note with “reasons to be cheerful” written on it, and stick the fucking thing to the fridge.
“Alexa, play Voyage Voyage”. Lilou said over my thoughts. Alexa obliges.
I smiled to myself, through my melancholy, because that song is brilliant.
I woke up this morning at 7:15am. It should have been 6:45 but I just couldn’t seem to manage the hour of 6. The jolt back to routine always feels brutal to me. The getting the kids and myself sorted and ready and getting us out of the house with packed lunches by 8:30 was a push. “Mum where is my phone?” “Mum shall I wear a base layer today?” “Mum where is the butter?” “Mum, does my hair look funny at the back? Can I have a french plait?” “Mum where’s my toothbrush head?” Etc.
We leave at 8:40 and cycle past all the plodding parents and kids through the narrow alleyway between the allotments. No one, it seems is late except for us, so we ride the long path behind a large guy and 2 kids. He is carrying a very small pink rucksack, and his hair has the scrub of a toddler about it at the back, caused by his pillow. The air is cold and my fingers are already going numb at the tips. We finally get to the end of the narrow path and we cycle off at pace towards Lilou’s school. He see’s his mates and I say “leave the bike” which he passes to me, and runs towards them yelling “Oh My GOD” and the three of them all embrace. It’s lovely to watch. It makes me think about my own experience as a 10 year old. I was not popular like he appears to be. I would have joined the class queue unnoticed. He always amazes me. His resilience. Being born with a girls body, and never wanting to have it, is an ongoing path with many twists and turns.
I lock his bike and jump back onto mine. I cycle in to work as fast as I can, which in the end turns out to be 7 minutes slower than my normal slow pace. My legs have all the power of  un cooked pigs in blankets. Its amazing how weak I feel. Like I had a load of rhum and a big spliff. My fingers and toes are beyond numb as I pull into the car park and unlock the cycle cage. The pigeons are there. In their new nest. “Happy new year” I think to myself as I catch his beady and suspicious eye. “This is my fucking nest, not yours” he appears to reply. ” I know.” I say out loud, and the guy with the long grey hair and relentlessly and exhausting positive attitude swings into the cage behind me. “back to work” I say to him. “Yes,” he replies. “Isn’t it exciting.” I don’t reply. I know he’s trying to shove positivity down my gullet, like a Christmas goose, and I am not playing.
I just came back from the gym which was tough going.  put some definition into my pigs-in-blankets-legs. I can feel my body getting older these days. My knees hurt, or a twinge in my back. My stomach needs toning. It’s time to try and look more like one of the fit mums on facebook. Trouble is, Im not sure Ill manage to keep it up. I tend to lose momentum so easily.
Uni is silent. No students are here and all the staff are working from home. Covid isn’t doing much damage as a cold any more, but today it has made the campus feel like a dead zone. I’ll cycle back home and write a list on a post it note. Sod it. Its a cheesy thing to do, but it might help. Of all the things I’ll be better at this year than I was last year. Personal life, love life, kids, work, writing, drawing. That sort of thing. As long as I dont publish it on Instagram with a sunset in the background I can forgive myself.
I’ll add it to the other post it notes on the fridge.
My fridge is a mass of intentions.
Oh and run more. I need to do that too. Not just draw other people doing it.