Hot tea, tissues, blanket, ipad, blackberry (yes, these things still exist), documents, private laptop, work laptop, notebook and pen. 11 pm, sofa. Windy and rainy outside. Winter is not letting go.
I am technically on holiday, I have the mother of all colds, I look like Rudolph the reindeer and sound like a man when on the phone, it is a busy week at work so despite my “holidays” I am “keeping an eye” (in three hours five calls, one presentation, forty plus emails out of the 5,742 sitting in my inbox: pros and cons of modern technology…), I think back of the days when nursing a cold meant calling in sick at work and staying in bed all day, having the time to feel miserable. Back to when I did not know that having children is the highest of all honours, the magic of raising little humans, being (for now) the most important person in their lives, watching them watching me with curious loving eyes and learning from me, listening to their little daily adventures and discoveries, as well as the hardest of all jobs, being well for them even when all you want is hide under the duvet with paracetamol, cleaning their little noses before you actually swallow that paracetamol, thinking of their own well being before your own, putting their needs first, loving them unconditionally, laughing with them, balancing their wonderful little lives with your own needs and the demands of your responsibilities at work. Learning to shift gears. Learning again to see with their eyes. Then shifting brain gears again.
In my current life in one day, even on a sick day, I get more done in three hours than I ever did in a week pre-kids. And I even find time to enjoy and be grateful. What a major boost that came at the cost of looking like someone who has not slept in 5 years (yes, five years as I count the sleepless nights of the last trimester of pregnancy!).
Four years and two kids in I have learnt that the hardest thing to handle, I am guessing for all working parents with demanding jobs out there, is shifting gears. Having your brain slow down and switch from super-efficient and productive mode (let´s just get the effing project done) to loving, patient and caring (Mami, why do we need to sleep? Mami, can we play until the sun is up? Mami, I know I did not eat any of my dinner, but now that I am ready for bed with my PJs and brushed teeth, can I eat something? ........). I am getting good at this I believe but there are days, especially those days when you know a massive flu is coming your way and your brain is starting to tell you to slow down, that I get stuck in no man´s land and end up staring at the teachers and other parents in nursery school asking myself what am I ever doing there.
Leave the office running to make it on time to pick up the kids. Mummy cannot always be the last mummy to pick kids up (but she is). Park the car somewhere praying all Gods that no police/ancient angry woman with nothing better to do will tell you off. Put best smile on and run through the gates. Look like you are perfectly calm and very interested in all the details of the day (brain thinking: what? You took them out with -15C/in the pouring rain/made them play with frozen mud ?) and ask about how long did they sleep/how many servings of soups (brain thinking: why do they never eat up MY soup and at school they seem to be the best eaters ever/did I send that last email or is it stuck in my outbox/what was it that I had to buy in Coop and I forgot/can I get away with some quick pasta tonight/will other mums glare if they see me giving my kids a bio ginger innocent candy before dinner so no tantrums while I put muddy shoes on/if kids fully asleep by 9pm I can get some admin done, maybe relax 15 mins then get onto emails/ppts again/need to sleep more I aged 10 years in last 4 years/need to plan date night/holidays/make payments/update multiple to do lists for tomorrow/forgot the carton day again/there are too many meetings planned for tomorrow again/…).
Then finally by the time I am in the car and driving back home with the kids while tuning in to “hello song” or “il coccodrillo come fa” (“what do crocodiles say?”) my brain has temporarily switched again and I can enjoy the chatter in the back seat.
It is only a temporary break and as soon as kids are in bed the sharp productive brain mode is on again.
Does it end? I am hoping it won´t for a long time because this ride is actually quite fun!