I am not the first to write this kind of post. There are lots (I am going to be slightly ‘posh’ and use “there are” instead of the more colloquial “there’s” cause I am a posh mum today). This is what a day in my life as a working mum can look like.
It’s barely 6am and I am staring at the copying screen on my laptop: “copying, copying, copying” – how much longer? Bucket! I need to run and fetch another bucket from the garage because our 3-year-old son is throwing up for the 2nd (or is it 3rd?) time since midnight. Tummy bugs are the pits. How many buckets is one supposed to have in the house?, I think to myself, jumping over piles of dirty sheets and soiled fluffy toys. Yes, those Egyptian cotton sheets sure were worth that investment (not)!
I rush back to pass the bucket to my husband, who has not actually slept since the first “incident” at midnight. I got interrupted sleep, but at least some sleep. In two rushed breaths, we negotiate who’s taking which day off work, 48 hours day-care ban following vomiting, that means two days off; today I am scheduled to give a talk to 200 people about grammar, tomorrow is easier to cancel. He is on a new contract and should ideally not be taking any day off. Quick decision, him off today, me off tomorrow.
I am now dressing in a rush, while downing coffee, copying, copying, copying – seriously? How long does it take to transfer a Powerpoint onto a memory stick these days? My daughter is not sure whether to take her pink bear in the car or the rainbow bear. We jointly decide it’s rainbow bear’s turn. Mummy, can I also take dolly to day-care and show everyone? Yeah fine, let’s just put on shoes. Now, where was that printout with directions regarding where to park for this talk? Memory stick in hand, we rush past the mountain of laundry and pile into the car. The boys are still in the bedroom collapsed on various beds. I wave.
Day-care run goes well, at least I think it does, I vaguely remember telling one of the teachers that my son won’t be attending today, when is that report due for that pragmatics journal?, never mind, talk first, report later.
I am now calm and collected, a picture of academic knowledge embodying that sense of confidence it takes to command a room of 200 faces. Then I feel the sticky thing in my hair. Eeek, an old dinosaur sticker remains like an old hanger-on from a previous play session. I love how these things can stick to my hair for hours, but not to the sticker-book for more than mere seconds. Just brilliant. Talk is over.
I check my phone. Dad and son are now at the doctor’s. I call in a frenzy as I cross the carpark, what’s happened? Oh nothing, son wanted to see the doctor so he could look in his ear for monkeys – an old trick our doctor pulls to endear himself with the kids. At least now we have some anti-nausea tablets so no need to buy more buckets. It’s 11am already. Have I put on that load of washing out, looks like it’s going to rain later?!?
Phone rings, it’s the local paper wanting an interview with me. I forgot that our Communications team has sent out a media press release over the weekend. Oh yes, that story. I handle it. Reporter sounds nice, I am hoping the word vomit did not creep into any of my language examples. I have a headache and I need coffee.
As I rush out my office door, a crisis unfolds with a student whose late enrolment requires approval urgently. Today is the last day to swap into my course. I print the form. Oh my gosh it really is raining, should I call home to alert husband to washing crisis? No, focus on enrolment crisis first. Printing form, I sign it (in the wrong place, like a true academic), and run down the stairs to the arts office. Office processes it, crisis averted, great – feeling victorious.
Now my phone rings again. Reporter lady is sending photographer to get a current photo of me (the university is still sporting a 5-year old photo of me but paper needs a current one). I instinctively check my hair for dinosaur stickers and bits of left-over vomit. Coast is all clear. I run to the agreed point to meet photographer arriving in a puff. Not feeling too glamorous about now.
It’s 2pm. I have three articles I am currently working on and they are all on my desk waiting for attention. I should be writing a book proposal. I owe a late book review to another journal. I have a report to read from a student. It’s two hours until the day-care pick-up so I mentally go through my to-do list to see what I can knock off in this time. An article we are writing is almost at the discussion section stage. I decide to work on it now.
How is it 4pm already? It feels like I only just turned my computer on. I run to my car and then to preschool. Home is a buzz of excitement, tears, worry, and running around. Dinner happens, baths happen, followed by stories and bedtime. Lunches get packed. Kitchen is cleared. Did I email my latest report in? It’s nearly 8pm. I try to do one hour of work. It’s my turn to do the night shift as husband has work tomorrow. I turn out the light at 9:30pm.
Mummy, I had a nightmare.