All those people who don’t have children, all they have to do is get up in the morning and go to work. I bet some of them even manage to eat breakfast before they leave. Sometimes I fantasise about the luxury of making and then eating my own breakfast! In my house, I have already broken up two fights and emergency hand-washed a pair of school tights before 7.30am. (For some reason we are always short of tights, even though I do more washing than the laundrette.)
So if you’ve seen me on the school run, or had the misfortune to sit in a meeting where I’ve arrived sweaty and slightly frazzled, let me tell you about a typical week in my house…
Monday: Due to the unseasonally cold weather, my youngest daughter says she would like to wear her gloves to school. She watches me search all the usual places gloves might be. Then she watches me painstakingly empty The Cupboard of Doom, in which all things that haven’t been put away in their rightful place generally lurk. There are many interesting and useful items in The Cupboard of Doom – some of which have been ‘lost’ for months – but my daughter’s gloves are not amongst them. After ten minutes of diligent searching, and with the entire contents of the cupboard arrayed around me, I admit defeat. “Perhaps you could wear mummy’s gloves instead?” I suggest. ‘Or,’ says my daughter helpfully, ‘perhaps I should wear the ones in my pocket?’ “Oh yes, darling” I say brightly. “That’s a great idea. Why don’t you do that?” Grrrrrrrrr.
Tuesday: When I get home from the school run, there is a card on my doormat from the Post Office saying I have a parcel. I go to the Post Office to retrieve said parcel, but have to pay £1.50 as the sender has underpaid the postage. As I turn away from the counter clutching the mysterious package, I notice that it isn’t actually addressed to me. There is no return address on it, or information that might enable me to forward it to the person it is addressed to, so the kindly man at the Post Office says I should keep it. When I open it, the parcel contains a small chunk of tarmac. There is no note or explanation enclosed. This is definitely the worst way to spend £1.50 I can think of.
Wednesday: We leave the house a bit late, but cleverly make up time by scootering to school at top speed. My youngest daughter is just about to run into school when I notice that she’s not carrying her school bag. When I ask her where it is, she looks at me blankly for a moment, then says helpfully ‘By the front door at home.’ She is resistant to my suggestion that she might survive without it today, as it contains ‘important things’ that she will need later. So reluctantly I scooter home, collect the bag and then scooter back to school. On the scooter trip home it starts to rain. Later in the day I phone my husband and mutter darkly about how I literally have no life of my own and everything I do is subservient to the requirements of our children. He makes a vague tapping sound at his computer and says he’ll have to phone me back later. He does not call back.
Thursday: Despite both daughters vigorously assuring me on Wednesday evening that they have absolutely, definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, done everything they needed to for school, on Thursday morning both children announce that they may have slightly, somewhat, maybe a little bit, exaggerated how much of their homework they have actually done. In an unexpected burst of commitment to their education, neither child is prepared to leave for school until said homework has been completed. Resignedly I take my trainers off and make another cup of tea. I might as well be refreshed for scootering to school at top whack.
Friday: My youngest daughter can’t find her trainers and toady is PE. Apparently she last wore them pond wading on a school trip, after which she put them in a plastic bag. Questions about where she might have put the bag are treated as unreasonable. After a brief search the bag is located. It smells like a skunk has crawled in it to die. My daughter is upset and disbelieving when I tell her she can’t wear the trainers, even though they are soaking wet and smell like a tramp’s armpit. Eventually I persuade her to wear her sister’s trainers, which although they are slightly too big, are completely dry, and have the added bonus that you can’t smell them from ten paces away. I put the fetid trainers back in the bag to tackle later. #winning
After school drop-off, I have breakfast in a café with my bestie Sarah and recount the challenges of my week. Sarah nods sympathetically, even though her week has actually been much more challenging than mine. We both agree that the other is a total hero. I head home with my spirit invigorated and then I type emails, make calls and generally work like a demon until school pick up – because there’s only a narrow window of opportunity before the madness starts again…