Redster: Seven yesterday
Cutester: Three and three quarters

Brighton by erase, on Flickr

I had a fortnight’s taste of being a working mother earlier this month. That was two weeks ago and the adrenaline is just beginning to subside.

I used to consider my working mum friends to be having a well-earned break, in their nice offices away from the children. Many of them seemed to confirm this – I’ve probably already mentioned one friend, who says she enjoys an environment in which her colleagues don’t throw the coffee she’s just made back in her face for being in the wrong-coloured cup. Even the thought of all that reading time on the tube used to fill me with envy.

Then, the tables turned – at three years old the Cutester started her five subsidised nursery sessions per week. Fifteen hours of child-free time a week, with no job to do. At last! Time to concentrate on something, anything, for more than half an hour at a time. Time to finish things; time to sit down with a cup of tea and slice of toast for ten minutes before starting things, and still get them finished. And at last, some space in my head. The garden flourished, the decorating got finished, the admin got done, I completed an Open University course, read some books, and all the stuff I do for church got the attention it deserved.

But just before term started again, after a long long summer of lots of lovely things but no time to accomplish anything, I get offered some paid editing work. As soon as the kids were back in school and nursery, I got my head down (literally – editing documents on my tiny, cute little netbook is like trying to watch a widescreen film from inside a tank). Those first two weeks of term were frantic. The Cutester found herself in nursery a day and a half longer each week than she’d ever been before. Even so, there was no leisurely wending my way home or jogging or fraternising with the chickens or gentle gardening before sitting down at the computer. I just rushed home, switched it on, and stared at the screen for up to five hours solid, before getting up with backache and a headache (should buy a desk really) and rushing back to get the kids again. Evenings, when there were no church meetings, consisted of more editing, and then washing up / dishwasher emptying / laundry at 11pm or later.

By the second week, I wasn’t sleeping properly. Yet this is what all my working mum friends do! When their kids are in the care of school or nursery, they are working. There isn’t any child-free space just to get their heads in order. How do they manage it?? This last week, I’ve spent doing very little other than housework and planning the Redster’s party. Now that I’ve experienced the alternative, I think I will actual relish the role of full-time housewife and mother while it lasts…