The Parent Project: Month 8

bag and bookWork is hard, but not for the reasons you might think. I feel that I have settled back in well; I believe I’m doing a good job. And, despite waking most mornings at 4am to settle my son and then catching another 90 minutes of sleep before spoon-feeding him mashed banana for breakfast, I’m not even feeling too tired.

The tube is full of women who have done their hair. I see buns, French pleats, plaits. Complicated up dos finished with chopsticks. Elaborately curled ponytails finished with matching grips. I did brush my hair this morning, but probably only the front bit as the back still feels tangled from where I slept on it.

These are not women who only have one pair of trousers that fit. These are not women who forgot to pack a spoon to eat their yoghurt with. These are not women who have to create a new blank email to remind themselves what their job title is or who use their old password from 6 months ago. They are women who wear jewellery! They have necklaces on, and dangly earrings!

I am part-time at work, which means I do not have a permanent desk. I sit where someone else is away. That’s fine as I get to mix with a variety of people at the neighbouring desks, but it does mean that I have nowhere to put my stuff. So every day I lug my laptop, high heels, lunch box, notebook, and the other essentials for the day to the office and back on the tube. I have to plan carefully so I’m not overloaded. It never works.

I am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, in 20 minute bursts on the commute. It is a book that demands long sittings with a cup of tea – the kind of book that in the past I would have sat up to 1am to finish. Instead, I get it out of my bag on the escalator to squeeze in another precious paragraph before I have to put it away for the day. Jack can turn the pages of a board book, but trying to read a magazine with him on my lap just resulted in him tearing the pages with his over-enthusiastic chubby hands. I dare not read a novel with him just yet.

I am getting better at making it easier. I lay out all my clothes the night before, along with my work bag, packed and ready, including snacks and spoon. I have also worked out that it is better for everyone if the critical path for the morning involves having breakfast in our pyjamas and then getting dressed for the day. This avoids banana disasters involving my only pair of wearable trousers. I will sort it out, this double life of work and home. And as I do, I’ll get more confident about managing both.

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