It’s guilt mostly.
Endless reams of guilt.
It’s the apology you give as you leave a tired, grumpy burden with strangers.
It’s the not being there to mediate or medicate.
It’s dropping off the only one in uniform on the fancy dress day.
It’s missing out on words and firsts and learning because you have to be someone else today.
And it’s the not always feeling so bad about that.
Because you enjoy those meetings; the planning, the organising, the graft for deeply important things that mean fuck all. It’s those figures and deadlines and schedules and conversations over hot cups of coffee. Moments of adultness.
It’s feeling like you’ve let people down because someone is sick and you cannot come in today.
It’s wishing you were there and not at home covered in human excrement at 2:30am.
And when you get there, the constant feeling that you’ve left your heart somewhere else today.
It’s the excuses and make and compromises you offer so that you can be cheering at the finish line.
It’s afterschool childcare and missed performances.
It’s another beige meal from under the grill because you’re too damn exhausted to cook actual food today.
It’s the pile of dishes and the argument over who had the hardest day.
It’s falling asleep instead of making love.
It’s having to prove yourself, over and over again, to everyone you meet.
It’s having to prove yourself to yourself.
It’s that weight around your neck that constantly tells you that you should be somewhere else.
And it’s the still being hungry for more.
Of course, there are many other things too.
But your constant companion, the only one that never goes away, is guilt.