This is the rush hour of our lives. We have children who need our focus and attention. We have careers that need our energy, initiative and drive to really take off. We have social commitments aplenty (hen and stag dos, weddings, divorce parties!) and we have the constant background hum of admin, chores, bills, mortgages and appointments.
I feel as though I am driving at high speed in the fast lane of the motorway. All I really want to do at the moment is to pull off the motorway and take the scenic route along the country roads, to take it all in and to enjoy this thing that we call life.
I’m weary of being this strong, independent, self sufficient, successful at work, single mum. I feel I always need to be as strong as an ox, but often I feel as fragile as an egg.
Cygnet wants energy, quality time, focus and attention. When he gets it I can see him thrive and I derive pleasure from giving him 100% of my energy when we are together. Carving out quality time for the two of us is my scenic route along the country roads.
But sometimes I need to take Cygnet with me on the motorway. Cygnet likes to travel at his own pace. I have to hurry him along in the mornings to get him to nursery to that I can get my train. Inevitably nursery mornings are those when I have to wake him from his slumber, whereas he’ll be dragging me out of bed at 6:30am on a Saturday.
I bribe and cajole. I clean his teeth by putting CBeebies on the iPad. I get him to put his shoes on by getting his monkey to help me do the velcro. I get him into the buggy with the promise of a Yoyo bear (you know, those strips of rolled up jam like stuff that claim to be one of your five a day).
I commute to work. I curse the delayed train, the fact that I never get a seat, the fact that the wifi black spot always hits when I am ready to pay that bill online or have written that comment on a blog post.
I arrive at work to a barrage of tedious emails, post-its left on my computer screen, my staff lingering at my desk to update me or to ask me something or other. I’ve learned not to bother to read most of my emails. I go from meeting to meeting preparing for each in the lift on the way there.
I influence. I negotiate to achieve consensus between opposing views. I allocate tasks and I plan the way forward. I monitor progress and budgets. I deliver and complete my projects.
I dash from the office. I sprint to the station for nursery pick up. I buy fresh fruit on the way. I arrive at nursery 4 minutes before collection cut off after which the late pick-up fine is applied.
We go home. I cook. Cygnet has tea at 4:30 nursery so is ready for another meal in the evening. We eat together. We bath together. I read to him and then we lie on his bed together until he falls asleep.
I pour myself some wine and I do the washing up, the washing, the online supermarket shop. I pay bills. I book appointments. I compare quotes for work on the flat. I water the plants on the balcony. I vacuum. I send an email to my friend who has just had a baby. I catch up with my family.
I then blog. I read. I write. I comment. I like this time. This is my time, but I am forever torn between my need for this little bit of time for me and my need for sleep. I go to bed too late.
Cygnet wakes and climbs into my bed at some point between 2am and 5am. I am woken by a toddler’s foot in my face. I drift back to sleep just before the alarm goes off.
We are in the rush hour of our lives.
I remind myself that I’ll miss this time when it’s over.