6am. Archie bolts out of his bedroom, scratching the sleep out of his eyes. He slams his bedroom door with such ferocity that the picture frames rattle. “I’m so hungry, mum. I was just thinking about having weet bix with yoghurt instead of milk. Is that funny? Or not?” 9am. Jed is refusing shoes. He is full of rage, tears and snot and fury smearing his cherubic face into a snarl. I throw three pairs into the car and tell him a complicated story about Grandpa and motorbikes as I wrestle him into the carseat. He looks sadly out the window as we cross the bridge, still sobbing. “No ducks, mum.”
10am. The goat in our front yard nibbles the patch of Christmas lilies. We eyeball each other as I scull lukewarm tea on the deck. She uses her horn to scratch her matted fur, then turns her back and saunters down the hill.
12pm. I remember a conversation with the old owners of our house as I clamber up the hill to the washing line. “Snakes everywhere, ‘specially when it starts warming up. We found them in the compost bin, under the car. I stepped outside one day and a big tiger snake wrapped himself around my leg.” We laugh together but I feel cold as I scan the ground.
1pm. The program I use to do our business accounts is frozen. I slyly open up trashy websites and scroll through endless beauty advice. I contemplate dyeing my hair again, or eyelash extensions. Instead, I find a tube of hand cream in my bag and slather it on my dry, garden-worn knuckles.
3pm. I hear Jed calling me from the carpark as I walk up to kinder. “MUM’S CAR. Hi Mum. MUM!” He points frantically at all his friends, his teachers. His favourite ball. Showing me his day.
4.30pm. Archie is following me through the garden, holding the end of a hose. He is obsessed with rescue vehicles, outer space and knights. He pores over the birthday cake book. “I want the swimming pool for my party day, and the castle for my actual birthday, mum, okay?”
6pm. I clean the kitchen while the boys and their dad empty the bath of water, one splash at a time. Weetbix from this morning is cemented to the floor. I scratch my nails into it, then have a go with the Chux. “You could render a house with fucking Weetbix!”, I yell to Lee, not for the first time.
7.15pm. Archie and I lay in his bed, telling stories of knights who fly space rockets to rescue aliens. He smells of sweat and dinner. I pretend to tickle him but take a deep inhale behind his ear, my hand on his round belly.
8.30pm. I lay on my bed, idly scrolling through instagram. Other people’s kids. Impossibly clean rooms. Green smoothies. I wander into the kitchen and make sultana toast smeared thick with butter.
10pm. I shove my earplugs in and mutter “goodnight, honey. Love ya.” to Lee. His response is muffled but he pats me on the bum and we hook our feet together, facing away from each other as the twin glow from our Kindles joins the moonlight, and the world retreats into inertia.