The alarm sounds but I’m already awake. My 3 year old has somehow, in the still of the night, navigated his way into my bed and is now sprawled across me. I have become a master at silently slithering out from underneath a sleeping infant. My husband has already left for work, a swift departure at sunrise. My pressing priority is to feed my caffeine addiction. If I had the option to be hooked up intravenously to a caffeine drip I would take it.
I utilise the quiet time to check emails and review my schedule for the day. It is manic, the same as yesterday and tomorrow. Fortunately I love my job. If I didn’t, I would be questioning my decisions, the impact these have on my family and thinking just what is the point to this chaos?
My mind reverts back to coffee. I take another sip and I start to feel as though I’ve got this. I’m ready for my 6 year old, who appears zombie-like and demanding breakfast. She is closely followed by her brother, who is now awake and declaring he is SpiderMan. He moves slowly on his tummy down the hallway, copying the movements of his web-spinning hero. It is funny and it is cute but there is no time to play. I must make time tonight. I will. My daughter emerges with a brush requesting a hairstyle like Elsa from Frozen. She ends up with a ponytail and I am quick to inform her that her School Principal has advised that all girls must wear ponytails. I tell myself it is okay to tell a lie, if only white. We’ll conquer elaborate Frozen styles on the weekend. We will.
We have a small window to pull together in the morning each playing a part. It is tight and carried out to military precision until I’m faced with a decoy. It’s inevitable with children. I today spent 15 minutes trying to explain to my 3 year old why he can’t have a packet of Twisties for breakfast. As tempting as it was to feed him the Twisties in the first minute of the conversation and save myself another 14 minutes by doing so, I held firm. Can’t guarantee the same result next time. In the morning I am not unlike a Drill Sergeant, “eat your Weet-Bix”, “put your uniform on”, “clean your teeth”, “comb your hair”, “pick up your bag” – Lets go!
My small army is marched into the car and deployed at childcare and school. The satisfaction I feel when I enter the school grounds before the bell sirens is significant. I’ve succeeded. My mind turns to what it would be like to be a stay-at-home Mum. Surely it can’t be as chaotic? Do they ever forget their child’s Show & Tell or leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink? I’m guessing not. I want a cleaner. No I deserve a cleaner. I just can’t manage. Maybe I should work less. Maybe I should have another baby and stay home. I then imagine myself contently pushing the new perfectly behaved newborn in the pusher as the two eldest happily scoot ahead on route to their destinations. We’re all smiling, the sun is shining, no evidence of stress in this figment of my imagination. My daughter even has a Frozen hairstyle. There would be time to exercise and catch up with friends. Reality check! No, I love what I do and I do love working. I also still have a 3 year old that I often prise off my leg before sending off to care. I can’t have another baby. In some respects I still feel like I have one.
Drop off completed and my attention immediately turns to work. Mother hat off, business hat on. The short journey into the city provides me with a moment of rare solitude or the opportunity to finish my make-up. I thoroughly enjoy this quiet “me” time before the phone calls begin. Funny how you take these moments for granted pre-children. Phone calls lead into a string of interviews and meetings that are consecutively scheduled, as I am today also responsible for pick up. My time may have decreased since having children but my productivity has increased tenfold. No part of the working day is wasted. I prioritise, work smarter and forgo long lunches to wrap things up and get back to my family.
My work provides me with a sense of achievement, fulfilment, purpose, worth and self-satisfaction. My unwavering passion confirms why I do what I do and why I have chosen to do this now. Like others I could have easily put my career on hold but personally, I’m glad I haven’t.
“My bag is an embarrassing mess and I pull out some of its’ contents; my laptop, reading glasses, baby wipes, diary, colouring pencils, loom bands and a SpiderMan figurine.”
My phone rings and I reach into my workbag to retrieve it. My bag is an embarrassing mess and I pull out some of its’ contents; my laptop, reading glasses, baby wipes, diary, colouring pencils, loom bands and a SpiderMan figurine. I find myself smiling. The contents reveal my identity; I am a working mum and for me, it works.
I arrive and pick up the children. I’m immediately conscious of being present. Yes we can go to the park. Yes I can be Cat Woman. Yes you can have an ice cream but not before you eat your dinner. Business hat off, mother hat on.
I kiss the children good night before opening my laptop.