If you're buying me a Christmas present...

beside table
“What’s on your bedside table?” the interviewer asked me.
I wracked my brains and eventually remembered.
On my table was a book by an author I loved. Despite my good intentions, it had sat unmoved, dust-covered and guilt-inducing for many months.
“Read me,” it had whispered every night. Eventually, when many nights had passed lying beside but not touching, it had fallen silent like a jilted lover and become part of the furniture.
I am in the season of motherhood where I have half-read books piled high, awaiting a turn that seems it will never come.
Half-read is an overstatement in itself - a brilliant intro skimmed through in a bookstore and paid for alongside a children’s book (yet another birthday present), a few select pages read on recommendation from a friend then filed away for later.
In a few short days, Christmas gifts will come my way in their tell-tale shape.
“She likes to read”, they will have thought.
They will be right, and the process will continue, another book adding itself to a list I secretly know is being saved for that elusive rainy day, or if I’m really committed, paid for a second time in audiobook format.
“If you really wanted to read books, you’d spend the time you do on socials reading paperbacks instead,” my inner critic tells me for millionth time.
Only I have tried it, many times, and find myself reading the same few paragraphs over and over because I’m simultaneously supervising, trying to remember which of my kids’ books are due back to the library when, and figuring out what’s for dinner, hence really not taking it in enough to remember what Harriet said to Laura, or what the scientist wanted me to understand about the intricacies of their research findings.
So please, only give me another book if you also plan on providing the equivalent additional number of hours childcare to read it with full attention.
Even better, save your money and come and play with my kid while I read one of my 25 other books with a marker waiting for me at page 11.
Bring us takeaway dinner while you’re at it you’ll be enshrined in the Motherhood Gifting Hall of Fame forever.
Now that would be a gift to remember.
[ID: a close up, portrait image of Anna, a white woman with blonde hair looking directly into the camera. She wears a red floral shirt and woven earrings.]


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