Sometimes you just run out of steam. I made it to Friday, but when I looked at the calendar there was no white space. I had several interviews in the morning, plus a sick teenager, another child heading off on sleepover and in need of cash and a round of interviews in Cambridge all afternoon. It sounds not very busy when you write it down, but when you live it the experience is slightly different.
Firstly, we live in a village where you can only get cash if you go to the Co-op. Secondly, schools constantly demand small amounts of cash for trips, special events, etc, meaning I never have any cash. Thirdly, my partner is like the queen and never carries cash. Fourthly, any trip to the Co-op involves multiple demands either for obscure items or to come with the person going to the Co-op. This means getting the person[s] who want to come to the Co-op out the door. What seems a straightforward, 15-minute trip on a Thursday evening becomes slightly similar to going on a short holiday. Also, the trip to Cambridge did not go entirely to plan and became a game of chasing phone messages, trying to find a phone signal in various remote locations and a cafe, back to back interviews and constantly running about three minutes late.
By the time I got home it was around 7.30 and everyone was in weekend mode and the house was a tip.
Fortunately, my day for a lie-in is Saturday. This usually starts with only son lying on top of me swearing his undying love for 20 minutes before his dad drags him downstairs and bans him from the room. But Saturday is not a rest day as such because there’s washing and cleaning to do. Saturdays are like the day after a really long party – you look round and there is chaos everywhere. Loom bands are scattered across the entire house. Single socks poke out of unlikely places. Assorted pencil sharpenings, half finished artistic endeavours, Avengers items and the like are everywhere – and no-one admits to being involved in causing any mess whatsoever.
What is worse is that you have to attend to what I will group under the term “admin”. This includes ringing your cable tv provider about connection problems, entailing first of all trying to find an actual phone number to ring, being put through to lots of “options”, none of which is actually suited to your problem, entering information by speaking your name and address to a background of screaming children [“Muuuuum, can I clean off the bird poo from the trampoline with my socks?…Muummmmmmmmmmmm, I’ve been very patient. Can you come NOW?”] and finally getting through to a person who then asks for your password. What password? These days you have to have a password for every single thing you want to do and you are told that, for security reasons, you should never have the same one for all things. But if you don’t you can never ever remember your password and then face being locked out of your own account. One day I fear being locked out of my entire life because every gadget will require a password and I will be too tired and stressed to remember any of them.
Anyway, I also had to ring the bank which had a similar code issue. “Can you give me the first number of your code?” asked the man on the end of the line. I picked a number out of my head. It was the wrong number. Oh dear. Then a light lit up in my exhausted brain and I recalled the telephone banking code I had entered around 10 years ago, but only used about once ever since. The bank had returned two cheques to me that I had taken in on Thursday at about one minute to closing time because that is the only time I can get to the bank. One was from HMRC fro £8.95 and I had held onto it a bit too long apparently – mainly because getting to the bank is difficult and £8.95 is not worth a special trip. The other had the wrong signature on it or something. This means more “admin” and, I fear, another trip to the bank. On the last trip I had to send daughter three running ahead to stop the bank from closing because only son was shouting “I don’t like anything” and refusing to cooperate.
So Saturday was not exactly relaxing, though we did go to a very nice party in between having to find daughter two’s sleepover location in the pitch dark of the Essex countryside. I woke up at 6.45 on Sunday morning convinced it was Monday and worrying that I could not possibly get through another week because I hadn’t recovered from the last one yet. Plus I had let the kids stay up watching Iron Man the night before and they would be too tired to go to school. Fortunately, before I had got myself out of bed to do the school run I realised it was still Sunday. Hurray. A whole 24 hours extra to recharge my batteries to at least 10% and struggle on towards half term.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.