Things kind of fell apart last week. Perhaps after being away, the reality of life in China is confronting me again. The roughness and sharp elbows reqired here are wearing on me. The bloom is off and we're back, deep into the normal life of a family with small children. They need a snack immediately, someone hit someone else, there's an impending diaper mishap, and would you please just lie down so that I can deal with it? and the baby won't sleep, and is she hungry? has the stress of the last weeks dried up my milk? they don't like dinner, they won't take their bath, the hitting and the singing the singing the singing right in my ear as I'm trying to cook dinner, and I feel like I'm on fire. My adrenaline is always soaring. The mess, the noise, the constant need, and everything feels like an emergency. I say, that's it. We're going to the playground and then for a moment, we're outside and the light is just so, and the children are digging together in the sand, the baby is sleeping, and I can breathe again. Hugo edges towards me, he rests his head in my lap and says, My Mummy forever. And I know he's missed me, and I've missed them too.