"Can you play trains with me mummy?"
This must be Milin's most-repeated phrase. In his lovely, soft, pleading two-year-old voice, this is his favourite request. It's a question he starts asking before 7am. And it's something he repeats throughout the day.
He says it, usually, while I'm doing something with one-year-old Jasmin - feeding her, dressing her, or changing a nappy. He says it too when I'm quickly replying to an email on my phone, or clearing away their lunch plates, or packing his bag for nursery.
And what are my most common responses?
"In a minute, Milin."
"Just wait a bit Milin and I'll come and play when I've finished this."
"Milin I can't play just now - I'll play trains later."
But what does "later" mean to a two-year-old?
It means "no".
I'm not sure what made me realise it, but I'm suddenly saddened by the way I respond to Milin's requests for a playmate.
He's just a two-year-old boy wanting to play trains with his mum. And too often, I'm not there.
When did life get so busy, I wonder, that I can't make playing trains the first thing I do - instead of the last?
When is it ever fair on my son that I get every other job finished before I sit down on the carpet with him and make a track using all the pieces?
Perhaps it was hearing the sadness in Milin's own voice the last time he asked me to play. Perhaps it was hearing the knowing in his voice that I wouldn't be there. Perhaps it was hearing the resignation that he would have to play by himself. Again. While I did something else.
Whatever it was, something made me realise that actually, it's not fair. Milin is two. I'm his mummy. It's time to play trains.
I don't want my son to have to ask me again and again and again all day to play with him. He shouldn't have to ask. I don't want my son to have a kind of resigned sadness in his voice that gives away that he fully expects me to say "later." I don't want my son to give up on me playing with him.
There is, of course, nothing more important than spending time with my babies. The rest - the emails, the dishes, the errands - can wait. Somehow, things seem to have got busier, there seems to be a never-ending list of tasks to tick off. Well I'm done with the list. Milin won't want to play trains with me forever. He won't always need me to help him fix the bridge so Thomas and Percy can get back to Tidmouth Sheds. I never want him to feel like I'm to busy to play. I need to make more time. I need to shift things around sometimes and change what happens first. Everything else can wait.
Because I don't want to hear that sadness again. Not from a two-year-old boy who just wants to play trains with his mummy.
Kiran Chug blogs at Mummy Says.