My pulse pounds in my ears. My daughter, at two years old is crying because she is hungry, or bored, probably both and her crying has set the baby off. He doesn’t like it when she cries. I glance at the oven. Good, the preheat light has finally gone off. I roll the pastry one more time but just before I’m able to lift it, the glass of milk I need for the glaze is knocked over by two small pudgy hands. It’s ruined.
“Want milk!” she screams as the front door opens. “Daddy!”
I hate to think what I look like, covered in flour and now milk, red faced and harassed, trying not to lose my temper. I peel the sodden pastry off the tabletop. It’ll have to go on the pie. I’ve nothing else. I let my anger out as I crimp it slightly harder than needed onto the top of the casserole and slam the oven door shut behind it.
He takes my hand, spins me round and gives me a hug. I breathe in his scent and try not to cry with tiredness and frustration. “Go have a shower. Take your time. I’ve got this.”
When I emerge from the bathroom, I feel rejuvenated. I’m clean, the toddler has been placated and the baby’s asleep.
His eyes light up as I enter the room. “You’re so beautiful.” he says sincerely. I blush. It’s not chocolates and flowers. It’s so much better. It’s real.