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‘It feels so fun when you’re not at work’, exclaimed Sage as I kissed him on my way out to spend a little time with Cinnamon at Home Depot.  

We had been working on the 500-piece elephant puzzle for two hours though it felt as if it were a few minutes. In that time, we had made great progress. I was glad to see the enthusiasm light up in my son’s eyes where previously there had been frustration.

For most of the morning, after the cat-shaped eggs for breakfast, he had been sitting on the bar stool at the tall stainless steel and mango wood table by the long window in the living room looking for pieces to connect. The table that has now become our puzzle table.

‘I wish you didn’t have to work. I wish you were a stay-at-home mom’, he continued.

Sometimes I wish the same but such are the circumstances that I am not able to stay home as I used to or even work from home. Perhaps one day, but not at the moment.

At Home Depot, Cinnamon and I walked through the garden center looking for soil for her ‘babies’, as she put it. The oregano and thyme plants I purchased a few months ago along with the basil plant which has since met its demise due to my neglect. The plants were still sitting in their original containers and not doing as well as they could if they had new soil.

We left without having bought anything. The bag of soil at the house would have to do though it had been sitting in the yard since last summer. Hopefully, it will be good enough. If it is not, then I will give in and buy a new bag in a month’s time when the children return to my apartment.

‘We could go buy some ice cream instead’, I offered. Cinnamon’s eyes lit up. Once at the shop, she grabbed a small container of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream and we headed to the self-checkout area where we fed the machine the endless coins I had collected in my bag. It was quite entertaining to us both and we then walked out the doors into the humid and warm air after the rain had fallen.

Once home, we all gathered around the round glass dining table and delighted in our afternoon treat of ice cream with the last of the Oreo cookies. Glancing at the clock, I knew that my time with the three was coming to an end for the month.

After our ice cream, I quickly wiped the table clean for our two games of Uno. Puzzles and Uno was the summer I could offer them this year. Not much but as much as I could do this year. At least we had each other, I thought.

As the girls were gathering their items to take to their father’s house, Sage and I decided to work on the puzzle until it was time to leave. We had about half an hour’s time and about a quarter of the puzzle left to complete. Sage wanted to do as much as possible before he left. I wanted to see if we could complete all of it.

The pieces began to click into place as his eyes started noticing the shapes and colours of the puzzle pieces quicker than it had before. The excitement was there. It was now a challenge to get the puzzle finished in the 30 remaining minutes. Though it did not seem possible, the satisfaction was there as he placed the last piece completing the four elephants. A puzzle I had brought him from Scotland years ago.

It was 17,35 when we climbed into the minivan and drove away from the apartments. Once at their father’s house, the children gathered their belongings and we hugged and kissed each other farewell for the next month. They did not want to go but knew that we would see each other soon enough. Until then, I will keep busy by making our apartment a home upon their return.