I have spent quite a while these past few weeks wondering what I do that means I don’t get anything done. This is a bad place to be in. I get that people who work or don’t have kids (or sometimes people who work and do have kids) don’t appreciate what I do all day but if I’m questioning it too – well, that is not a good sign. It’s not that I’m not running around like a crazy person, it’s just that I never seem to get anything done, or finished, or sometimes even started. Life appears to be a series of relentless activities punctuated with constant interruptions and no-one who isn’t doing the same thing can seem to appreciate that not working is not the easiest choice sometimes. Well, in actual fact the phrase ‘not working’ is not even an accurate description. It’s more a case of ‘not being paid for all the work I do’. Not that many people view it that way, but let me tell you, it’s not easy being the person that does all ‘the other shit’. Because that’s what most of it is. A load of old shit. But it’s shit that makes the world go round….and the world would be a poorer place if we weren’t in it. So I decided to keep a diary, to prove it. I’m not sure what I proved – mainly that I’m not as efficient as I would like to be, that living away from home adds about 2 hours of extra workload onto my day, and that a whole lot of it is spent chasing my own tail – but anyway, here it is, a summary of a day in the life:
3am: Wake up to the sound of child screaming because he needs the bathroom and the door has swollen stuck on his bedroom and he can’t get out. Take child to the toilet, put him back in bed. Lie awake for 45 minutes making various ‘to do’ lists and wishing for world peace. Or sleep.
6am: Wake up to the sound of child singing. Attempt to snooze and fail.
6.30am: Finally give in upon being butted in the nose by my loving, if slightly over-enthusiastic son, and get out of bed. Shower, and attempt to cover up bags under my eyes with make-up. Mentally add several items to my to-do list whilst drying my hair.
7-8am: Drink a cup of tea, write a thank you letter and succeed in getting it into the envelope without sticky fingermarks or my child ‘enhancing’ it with a crayon while my back is turned. Make nutritiously balanced packed lunch, cajole child into socks and shoes, pack bags and check emails. Quickly reply to various people from the US and UK who have all sent me messages in the night so they too can enjoy full in-boxes first thing in the morning.
8.15-8.45am: School drop off. Negotiate car parking, realise I have forgotten it was ‘Mo’ day. Consider using my biro to draw fake moustache on my child then think better of it. Remind myself that it is also National Day this week and add ‘fancy dress outfit’ to my list of things to organise. Remove old posters from various locations around the school as part of my PTA mum duties. Smile at lots of parents but keep walking purposefully so that I don’t have to stop and chat.
8.45am: Fight through the hordes of women parking up and head to the supermarket for tonight’s dinner (even though I clearly spent an hour food shopping yesterday, for some reason I still have an empty fridge). Bump into two people who want to stop for a chat, and get agitated to the point that I avoid making eye contact with the third person I see and reverse into the next aisle to hide. Forget blueberries for making fruit salad at school on Thursday and resolve to make a return trip tomorrow. Again.
9.15am: Assess ‘to dos’ regarding house maintenance, overseas property management, Christmas, travelling, Improv group, PTA and school stuff. Reply to emails regarding all of the aforementioned. Forget most of what I had remembered I needed to do at 3am this morning. Call a guy to fix DS’s bedroom door.
10am: Head to shopping mall. Buy DS some winter boots for our UK trip home, some pyjamas, cards and gifts for this weekend’s kiddie birthday party, and attempt to find some inspiration for DH’s Christmas gift. End up in a decoration trance in Crate & Barrel instead. Unless my husband wants seasonal napkins and a santa sleigh for Christmas this is considered an epic fail.
11.30am: Give up and go home. Grab a cup of tea. Start making food shopping list to order online for delivery to our rental accommodation in UK. Email several good friends I haven’t spoken to since summer but really should have so that I don’t have to handwrite paragraphs of crap into Christmas cards when I do them next week. Accuse some of them of being lazy for not getting in touch and keep it to a short, abusive ‘Are you still alive?’ type thing so I don’t have to write much. For others, write something longer and more newsworthy, copy and paste content, changing names as appropriate for speed. Yeah, I know, that’s really bad – but it’s very efficient. Deal with it.
12.15pm: Head back out to the party shop to buy the National day costume stuff I forgot to look for in the mall. Make a mental note I need to find the pirate costume already lurking at home somewhere for Saturday’s birthday party.
12.40pm: Make a sandwich and start studying. (In my head, this activity was allocated 2 hours today.)
12.41pm: Doorbell rings, it’s the guy about the stuck door. Abandon sandwich and studying to oversee job.
12.50pm: Repairman comes to tell me he is finished, so I go to check the work and pay him. Resume eating stale sandwich. At this point with less than half an hour of time left of my morning I give up on my studying and call my mother.
1.00pm: Tell my mother I have to get off the phone. Check email whilst talking and cross of the stuff on my to-do list. Mentally note I haven’t done very much of it.
1.20pm: Hang up and drive at breakneck speed to pick up DS from school.
1.45pm-5pm: Get jumped on, do colouring, play football, climb up stuff, assist in operating various toys, go to park, read books, cook, wrestle, repeat myself about 457 times, mend something broken, wonder if I’m starting to smell, sing, prepare dinner, be endlessly enthusiastic about stuff that is interesting to a three year old. (No-one who doesn’t have one will appreciate just how much energy all this requires, but trust me, it is the working person’s equivalent of conducting a series of endless negotiations whilst having your boss sitting on your lap singing for the entire day including bathroom breaks.)
5-7pm: Cook, play the ‘if you eat this you can have that’ game for half an hour or so, clean up, bath, bed. Get at least one phone call during this time from someone who should know better than to attempt to speak to me at this point in the day. Consider the merits of sauv blanc vs. responsible parenting. Settle for a cup of tea and half a cold (home made) chicken nugget.
7pm: Yank myself into a dress. Shave legs (just down the fronts where the light catches) with a wet razor and some moisturiser. Think about going to the gym in the morning. Assess my arms and legs for spit/ketchup/sand etc, brush hair, spray perfume on, add lipgloss.
7.05pm: Leave house for client dinner with DH.
11pm: Return home, slightly squiffy. Check emails and drunk message at least one person on Facebook. Enjoy precisely 3 minutes of quality time with DH to discuss the day. Go to sleep, safe in the knowledge that my day will begin again sometime between 3 and 6am.