So my day started out like this. (This post comes with a foul language warning. If offended by the 'f' word please don't read on.)
At about 4.30am, Sophie was in our bed. That is not unusual. But this time her chesty-coughing drove me out of the marital bed and into her flower-clad, second hand from the op-shop single mattress that supports her little frame a lot better than mine. Two thoughts passed through my head as I stumbled passed the clock. The first was "Good, still a couple of hours before I have to get up" and the second was a hopeful question sent out into the ether "Soph will be alright for school tomorrow, won't she?"
Out of bed at 7ish and the getting-ready-for school shenanigans went fairly smoothly. Except when the Luthier pulled Sacha's lunchbox out of his bag and realised that, once again, he hadn't eaten any of it. A fairly ugly scene of frustration and denial ensued. Threats were made and notes written in diaries to bring the issue to the teacher's attention. Bloody kids.
Right. Breakfast had and boys dressed, but where's Sophie? Dad went in to persuade her out of bed. A pale and coughing small person appeared. "Mum, I don't wanna go to school."
"She'll be alright, won't she?" I whisper to the ether again. And continue in internal monologue, "I wonder if I have any leave left? Jesus, work already thinks I'm a dodgy option from all the time I've had off with illness, the kids and my own. And Phil can't lose any more work time. His jobs are piling up and we are going to go broke if he doesn't get some work finished soon. But the poor little mite, she's only just five and she shouldn't have to go to school when she's sick. I hate it when other parents send their kids to school coughing and snotty. She looks ok. She's just tired."
Sophie:"Mummy, I have a sore tummy."
Luthier: "No, you haven't."
Me, using the approach my father always used with me and I always loathed:"You'll be right once you get to school."
We are all in the car. Dressed in uniform. Bags packed with lunches and homework. I've remembered to put makeup and lipstick on and make my lunch. Yay!
We arrive. Fuck.
It's Grandparents day, I forgot to organise that with Mum and I bet she wanted to go.
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
Me:"Out you get you lot, have a good day."
To myself, "She'll be fine."
Sophie in tears: "Mum, my tummy is really sore."
Shit. Alright then, she'll have to go and sit at the shop with Phil. I drop her off and head to work.
I walk into work, feeling pleased that I had made it and hating it for making me compromise my family at the same time.
The phone rings and its the Junior School,
"Hey George, Josh has split his pants and is mortified. Its Grandparents' Day. What's Phil's mobile? We'll call him to come and sort him out."
"Oh bugger." I say, keeping myself nice. "No, I'll have to come because I have the car and Phil has the motorbike and he has Sophie at the shop with him and she's sick. I'll be there in 15 minutes."
Shit. Shit. Shit.
My apologies are made at work and off I rush. Its always chaos in the morning, my job. Morning is my busiest time and they hate having to cover it when I am not there. What else can I do? Push that thought to one side and head to the Junior School. Pick up J, take him home for a quick pants change and back to school.
J: "Sorry, Mum. Sorry you had to leave work. Thanks Mum, you are the best Mum ever!"
Me: "That's alright, J. It's my job."
As I get back in the car I get a phone call from a friend, a mother, who is in tears as she has been offered full-time work and has little ones and doesn't know what to do. I want to scream into the phone "Don't fucking do it. Working any more than a couple of days a week in a very flexible job when you have small kids has big fat hairy knobs on it." But I refrain. I try and be reasonable. I hope I was reasonable.
Call from Phil. Sophie has toilet issues.
As said by Hugh Grant in the first line of one of my favourite movies, 'Four Weddings and A Funeral'
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-Fuck."
I give up. I send the text to work that I won't be in after all, to which I get a very kind response but suspect I will pay for later. I really don't think I have any leave left.
I collect my daughter from her father who has a tiny shop full of 5 people and is trying to juggle the questions and the sick offspring.
"Come on Soph. " I say and hug her, bring her home and give her a bath.
Now that she is set up in front of ABC Kids, I am desperately racking my brains to magic up a more flexible way of earning money that does not involve sending sick smalls to school and being such an unreliable employee. All offers or ideas will be most gratefully received.
And I am one of the lucky ones. I get most of the school holidays off work.
Work/life balance, my arse.