If you need anything, let me know

If you need anything, let me know, they said.

But the words wouldn’t come. I choked on them instead

A slow death.

I wanted to say:

Can you pop in at bath time twice a week to give me a hand?

Maybe you could take them to the park on occasion so I could vacuum without the everlasting spread of crackers and requests challenging my progress.

I’d love some company for a babycino once a month. I want to listen to your work stories and ideally, you would not care if I had chocolate powder in my hair.

I guess you could call me to see how I was? But not in a way that seems condescending. Ask me like you are willing to listen to the answer. Ask me because you know the answer already. You’re around so much that you know the cues.

I know that by Friday I’m pretty tired. Dinner dropped at the door would be fab.

I’d love for you to sit in my garden while my children run naked on the lawn. I could grab the washing off and we could talk. Ideally, you wouldn’t think of it as odd if they did a wee on the grass.

We could cook for you. You’d be family. And you’d wash the dishes without hesitation, a team rather than a guest. We’d work together effortlessly. You’d know the bedtime routine, you’d tell the story. You would sit on the balcony whilst I feed and love them to sleep. You wouldn’t care how long that took. We have a nice view. You know where the kettle is.

I want you to be super excited about their first tooth.

I wish you would ask how feeding is going, even though they are nearly three.

I would like the conversation to include my two kids. If one starts to talk about the day we had our cat put down, again, I don’t want that to be weird.

I want to watch a kids movie with you at two in the afternoon.

Would that be too much to ask?

But it is. And so I say nothing.

Thanks, I’ll definitely let you know, I say. In the same way that we always do. In the same way that means we never will.

Author: Zelma Tolley

This piece has been republished with permission from Zelma.

Zelma is an award-winning social worker with a special interest in perinatal mental health and parenting support. When she’s not writing and seeing clients, she’s chasing a toddler down the hallway and making a copious number of snacks. You can find out more by visiting her website or following The Postnatal Project on socials.

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