There is always a list. The great, long, never-ending, constantly updated, ‘List of things that need doing’. Whatever else goes on it, ‘mop kitchen floor’ usually gets pushed to the end because that along with all the other housework is so boring. To save time, to make the most it, to cram as much stuff into life as possible, I started this blog, one of the more enjoyable items on my list, with the intention of writing and publishing it faster than ever before. I gave myself 20 minutes prior to taking the kids to school. And I failed. Of course.
What was I thinking? Do I really not fully comprehend that the sloth I gave birth to, known affectionately here as child No 2, requires constant reminders throughout the morning to climb down from whatever mythological fantasyland he inhabits for long enough at least to put his clothes on and eat some breakfast?
And, am I not fully aware that the minute I sit down at the computer the smallest one will clamber all over me, making cute chimp -like noises, muttering how much he loves me, along with biscuits and Ninjago; and oh yes, saying, “you’re so soft, mummy, fat, fat fat!” as he grabs hold of the middle-aged-post-three-pregnancy folds that exist round my midriff. It’s hard to write with that going on.
And then there’s the fact that I can’t actually write quickly anyway. When will I accept that writing takes time, and involves, for me at any rate, several readings to identify all the horrible syntax, spelling errors and usual run of the mill typos?
So, why I thought I could possibly write something and publish it within 20 minutes, I do not know. Living alongside Son No 2 in his mythical fantasyland, no doubt.
After losing my temper, swearing needlessly, then feeling utterly horrified by my behaviour and apologising profusely to a 4 year old, I realised I was attempting the impossible. Slow down! You can only do as much as you can do – you can only go as fast as you can go. These are the messages I need to tell myself constantly. Because otherwise such mornings can result in hot tears of frustration along with a generous mix of guilt pouring down my cheeks as I drive the children to school because we’re late and walking will take too long. Which is a horrible way to start the day.
I recently spent the afternoon with a friend who reminded me that we all have these moments. Her life, to all intents and purposes, looks much, much more grown up than mine does. But she too has mornings in the car, tears streaming down her face, filled with a mix of guilt and rage. I think we all do.
We need to be kinder to ourselves. I did try this yesterday when I set off at 8.40 on my bike with the intention of dropping the kids off and heading out to an exhibition rather than going straight home to get through marketing, studies and housework. I deliberately answered clients and potential clients before breakfast in order to clear my morning and make space for my outing. So far, so good.
What actually happened was that I got the venue of the exhibition wrong – it wasn’t in Chelsea at all, (which was fine as I’d enjoyed the bike ride anyway); then cycled back to have lunch with my mum; then remembered a meeting I needed to be in Putney for, so cycled over there as I didn’t have time to go and fetch the car; then cycled back to school, before momentarily losing the Sloth, who as well as being a slow moving animal seems to have some issues with listening, which was pretty horrible; then found him (thank you lolly-pop lady, school and Mrs. M for taking care of him) but by that time it was too late to go home and fetch the car; so cycled to Clapham Junction to meet the oldest boy for his dentist’s appointment; then afterwards, a quick visit to the barbers to have them all shorn; and finally rode home. By the time I arrived back at the house I’d probably cycled about 20 miles or more. My poor legs were killing me!
I actually loved the fact I was able to spend so much time in the spring sunshine, and think I’m pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to be out on my bike all day. Even if it did result in agonising pain (hyperbole – it was sore but agonising? Maybe not.)
So, what I think happened this morning was that the cramps were over, but the guilt for having an enjoyable albeit slightly painful day had set in. And because I must head into town today for some work related activity, I tried to get too much done before breakfast. And it doesn’t help anyone at all – all that rush, rush, rush, rushing. Least of all me. Monday was world poetry day. I suggest we should start having ‘let’s be a bit kinder to ourselves and others’ days as well. And let’s have them often.
In fact, I was really touched and pleased when I arrived home to find a card from the lovely and talented photographer, Sarah Legge, who has been so supportive of me. The card said on the front, “You Are Awesome”. And to think, it wasn’t even “lets be kinder to ourselves and others’ day! Thank you, Sarah.
There! Blog done; not in record time, not before breakfast, not at the cost of speaking to my children. But still with more than enough time to head out for the day and get other stuff done too. (Although the kitchen floor and the mop still don’t get a look in!)
Image (c)SJField 2015