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It’s only when you look back that you realise how far you have come in the parenting “journey”. I was asked about my experiences with flexible working last week. I think the interviewer had not quite anticipated just how many flexible options I have tried over the years. I have done job shares, working from home a day or so, part time combined with freelance, the “portfolio career”, etc, etc. All have their pluses and minuses. One of the big pluses of working from home is not commuting. It can also be a minus because you feel slightly adrift of the world sometimes, although social media and the like ensures you are constantly pummelled by what is going on outside. I’ve never seen social media as a protective bubble. It seems more like a boxing ring to me. You emerge from it feeling bruised and battered.
Anyway, back to commuting. I do commute from time to time and that is enough to make me thankful that I don’t have to do it every day. On Friday I had to go to some meetings quite a long drive away. I dropped only son at school, passing all the signs saying virtually all routes to the school will be cut off next week due to road works and a queue of traffic heading in the opposite direction. Uh oh. Luckily, I know the back roads well. I got half way through my short cut when I came upon a mass traffic jam in the middle of a country lane. Every road leading to the motorway was jammed. Things were not looking promising.
Amazingly I arrived on time at meeting number one after a short jog from the car park. I had secreted only son’s teddy bear on my person as he is doing a project which involves his bear travelling around the UK. I took a photo of the bear before going into the second meeting. The bear was getting the full work experience and on the way home it enjoyed the commute problem in reverse. Traffic was backed up on the roads leading off the motorway. I had to pick up only son and his best friend from after school club for only son’s first ever sleepover. I was just in time. One day it would be nice to arrive somewhere without constantly checking the clock.
“Your bear has been busy,” I told only son. Only son and his friend were not listening. They were already too excited and proceeded to shout very loudly all evening until finally collapsing at around 10pm. Only son wanted his friend to go through the full bedtime experience in our house so I had to supervise a spelling test and daughter one read to them from the book of Greek myths and Nelson Mandela’s autobiography [kids version].
Then, miraculously, everyone went to sleep and didn’t wake up till 8am. Daughter one had to get into London and daughter three is always first in line for any kind of transport experience that isn’t the car so she came too. Only son’s bear was also up for another outing so we left the boys and a sleeping daughter two behind with my partner and headed into London. Only son’s bear had his picture taken in Putney Bridge, in Trafalgar Square with some protest banners, outside the Harry Potter theatre, in China Town, outside Aladdin and outside G.A.Y Bar in Old Compton Street. This is one well travelled bear.
He’s resting up for the week now, working from home.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.