On Monday the boy decided not to have a morning nap. After a frustrating forty-five minutes where he would fall asleep in my arms but wake when placed in his crib, I gave up. The screams of the girl being tortured in her room didn't help. Oh wait, she was safely reading books in her room. My mistake.
I managed to get us all out of the house in one piece before I had a complete meltdown, but I was determined not to suffer through a repeat performance today. Instead we left the house with the husband and walked him to work. It is a lovely walk through downtown Ottawa and we have done it a number of times now. The kids are happy to watch the world pass by them from inside the comfort of the stroller. At least on the way there. On the way home the girl likes to walk. This doubles the duration of the usually twenty minute walk but she enjoys wandering along slowly, checking out anything of interest that catches her eye. The boy usually falls asleep on the way home, just like he did today.
Instead of dropping the husband off at the door to his building and turning around like usual, today I needed to head inside the office tower to find a bathroom. I took the girl with me hoping she took would "make use of the facilities", but the public bathroom was closed for cleaning. "Why don't you come upstairs with me", suggested the husband. "I can show you stinky old work" he said to the girl.
Stinky old work. That is what he has called it ever since he returned in October after a year of leave at home with the girl. He went back to a new job in a new section with new colleagues. But to him it still stinky old work because it was what took him away from us.
I had a moment of hesitation at his suggestion, but I could see how excited he was at the idea of showing off the kids so in we went. The hesitation was solely due to the fact that I wasn't dressed for meeting new people, never mind his work colleagues. I was wearing my jogging shorts and an old t-shirt. My washed, but not brushed, hair was pulled into a ponytail under my black cap. I would have liked to make a better impression but I was dressed for the park in my grubby park clothes and not for a social occasion. Thankfully the kids were well-dressed and everyone was more interested in them anyway.
It was strange to walk into an office space after a year at home with the kids. While I am familiar with the set up, rows upon rows of cubicles and offices, I was struck by the absence of two things now so present in my life: colour and noise.
The floor we were on was so quiet. I could hear some people talking but it was a dim hum. There was no yelling or screaming or screeching. No running feet. No sounds of fighting. No laughing or giggling. I was overwhelmed by the silence.
I was also shocked by the dullness of the room. The walls were beige, the carpet was beige, even the cubicle partitions were a green beige. It was kind of depressing. It made me sad to think of having to work every day in a place without colour.
I had never thought about it before but my life now is so full of colour. The walls of our house are all brightly painted. The kids are outfitted in colourful clothes. The park is a blur of blue water, green grass and primary coloured play structures. I am out everyday in a world full of colour and noise and life. Sometimes it seems like too much colour and noise but maybe it is better to have too much then none.
The exception to the absence of colour was the husband's cubicle. As soon as I stepped into his space I could see rows of the girl's art work tacked to the walls. The cupcakes I had cut out of an old calendar and she had glued onto coloured construction paper. Blue and red paintings she had made at pre-school. Many, many pages of all kinds of stickers.
I was happy to see that even at stinky old work he is surrounded by colour. By her.