It is a warm May in England and I have been wearing my favourite summer dress. It is strapless, the colour of blue clouds with a simple white pattern. It is not new. I have worn it during a couple of summers already.
We are about to go on a family holiday and will then move house as soon as we come back. I am finding myself swamped with things to do, things to pack, things to clean. This dress, although my favourite, is both old enough and comfortable enough that I don’t mind doing housework while wearing it.
Today the dress has seen me through playing with the children in the garden, cooking two meals, giving them a bath, putting them to bed (having first somehow managed to overcome the general resistance of two small rebellious bodies, full of so much energy like tiny A-bombs, and leaving a similar trail of destruction around the house). The dress took it all in its stride. It doesn’t mind what I do with it. It is not precious about being worn for work and chores. Because it knows exactly what it is that makes it my favourite.
The way it used to look with a bump underneath.
The bump is no longer here, having happily transformed into one Sacha ‘Kamikaze’ Bullock, aged 18 months, temperament generally sweet and loving although with the occasional outburst of jealousy towards his sister, favourite occupation jumping off anything that might be highly dangerous to jump off (unless I am quick enough to stop him), hence the ‘Kamikaze’ bit.
The bump is not here any more, but I am wearing my favourite dress from those times and day dreaming about another. Another bump, another baby, another child, although hopefully not another Kamikaze. One of them is really enough.
Maternity is a funny time when it comes to clothes and I had found myself not inspired to do much shopping, preferring instead to wear just a few outfits, which in the hot days of the summer boiled down to just three of four dresses very similar to this one. When the weather allowed it, I wore them on their own, proudly displaying my bump and my body widening around it. When it was cold or wet, I wore a simple hoodie on top, and a few times I swapped comfortable low-heeled wedges for cheerful wellies. Amidst all that stark non-fashion, somehow this dress stood out. Maybe the colour enchanted me, made me think about how enormous the sky was that my baby would be born under. Maybe the softness of it made me think of baby clothes, freshly washed and ironed and carefully folded, waiting their turn in the chest of draws. Something about it made me wear it again and again, so much so that when I wear it today, everything in me starts to believe that it’s that time of life again. The time of life when we create life. That we are heading from two to three. Finally.
It’s almost painful, this longing. This inexplicable, stubborn, all-consuming longing, undeterred by everything I now know about raising children and how hard it is and how much harder three would be, than two. But still.
So, it’s not that time. And I don’t know whether it will be. I am not just one, just me - I belong to something greater than the sum of its parts – my family. Before two can turn to three, many things need to be just right.
So for now, I wait, and tell the dress to wait, too.