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My partner is away in Spain, which means I am the sole taxi service for the family. On Friday, I had a one-hour round-trip to the strains of George Michael [number three please, mum] first thing in the morning, followed by a 40-minute return trip to the secondary school in the afternoon to pick up daughters two and three and a shorter trip later to dance club for only son, accompanied by a song that goes fr-fr-fr-freak which only son sung at top voice.
Daughter two has been in the habit of announcing her exam results on return trips. “Guess what I got in Geography?” she asked on Friday. “I got a six and I don’t even like Geography,” she said, adding that a six was the top mark in case I thought it was out of 100. Daughter two is becoming a bit of a secret intellectual. “People are not even surprised that I am getting good marks any more,” she announced with near incredulity. Daughter two has always been the dark horse of the family. She is currently contemplating a career in law on the basis of watching Agatha Christie films.
Daughter one was in London. “When is your estimated time of arrival?” I texted around 4.30. Nada. Thirty six minutes passed. “I have no idea,” she replied. “Not even a ballpark?” I replied or words to that effect. Thirty-nine minutes later: “Nope”. I was feeling a bit peeved by this point as I just wanted to plan my evening. It wasn’t going to involve anything particularly exciting. A bath. A hot chocolate. Crashing out in front of Eastenders. The main thing was that I needed to gear my body up to how much longer it had to stay semi-alert. I texted back something cutting about not being able to predict my ability to keep awake. Radio silence. Forty-five minutes passed. “OK,” she texted. I decided to give only son a bath. As soon as he was completely covered in shampoo daughter one texted. “On train, approaching station.”
Only son woke up early on Saturday. “Muuum,” he yelled. “I’m right behind you,” I said from the other side of the bed, trying to keep my eyes closed. He had come into the bed halfway through the night. “Oh, what a relief,” he said. “I thought it was a school day and you were downstairs, but it’s Saturday. Hooray.” After declaring his undying love, he said “Mum, look at me.” “Can I look at you in around 10 minutes?” I asked. “It’s 7.30.” Only son started bouncing. It was going to be a long day.
By mid-Saturday as only son invited the neighbours over to do an obstacle course and celebrated the loss of his first tooth [“Can I have the day off school on Monday in case it starts bleeding?”] and daughter three set about creating something called blondies in the kitchen using every single implement we own, daughter two commented that I had not “freaked out” yet which apparently I normally do by around the third day after my partner goes away, which I think is pretty good going. “You’re doing well, mum,” she said. “Keep it up.”
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.