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Life in the slow(er) lane

1
Sometimes I’m like a fugitive in my own house. No, really. When the alarm goes off at 5.45am I tiptoe to the bathroom, making a mental note of which floorboard creaks, have a wee (no flushing the chain, just in case) and enjoy 15 minutes’ peace standing under a steaming hot shower, using my posh Body Shop spa goodies and thinking of nothing in particular.

My success rate is pretty good. But this week it’s all gone Pete Tong. On Tuesday, my four-year-old son started pulling on the door handle five minutes in. “You can come in,” I said, “as

SelfishMother.com
2
long as you sit nicely and chat to mummy quietly.” He followed my instructions (for once) and started practising his phonics.

“C-A-T,” he says. Very good, I shout.

“R-A-T,” he goes again. Well done, buddy.

Only the next time I pop my head round the shower screen, he’s on the loo taking a S-H-I-T. The glorious smell of my salt scrub is quickly overpowered by the not-so-sweet smell of P-O-O-P. Game over.

It happened again this morning. And I hadn’t even made it to the shower. My Gruffalo pyjama-wearing daughter stormed in covered

SelfishMother.com
3
in a sticky pink substance that was all over her clothes and in her hair. Half naked, I then discovered a full bottle of Calpol had been emptied into her bed. It had even made its way onto the brand new mattress I bought the week before. F-U-C-K I muttered, out of earshot.

This inevitably triggered a series of crotchety exchanges between daddy and me. He swiftly came to the conclusion that it was indeed mummy’s fault for leaving the bottle around without the cap fully screwed on. Yes, judge. Guilty as charged.

I left the mess where it was, had a

SelfishMother.com
4
two-minute shower, stripped off the Gruffalo and wiped her down with a flannel (there was no time for a bath). Needless, she was less than impressed – and boy, did she let me know. Big Brother also got thumped with a plastic zebra for winding her up. All before 6:20am.

On with the rest of the routine: breakfast served (in the wrong bowl, so I’m told), sandwiches made (“I don’t like cheese, mummy), children wrestled into coats and bundled into the car by 7:00am. A minute late and I’m buggered. Then I remembered the sticky bed sheets, so out

SelfishMother.com
5
of the car I hopped to load the washing machine. The next half-hour was spent rushing to drop off Madam off at 7.15am, then his Lordship at 7.30am. It was at least ten minutes into my onward journey when I realised I was still listening to Room on the Broom.

Switch to radio, and R-E-L-A-X. Only I’ve forgotten how. For the past few years I’ve been confined to my car for an hour-and-a-half commute every morning and evening, often with the clock working against me. The constant rush has got the best of me and, dare I say, I’ve let it. I’ve

SelfishMother.com
6
perpetuated these instances of chaos by displaying my frustration to the max, screeching at the children to the point where they no longer listen and – worst of all – passing on my anxiety about being punctual, which we all know is rarely always possible with children in tow. I have officially become 100% impatient – and so have they.

Only lately have the repercussions of my actions started to hit home. The kids don’t care if the roads are chock-a-block, or whether their toast has been buttered by 6.45am sharp. And why should they? They’re

SelfishMother.com
7
kids, doing what kids do. What they do care about is having five minutes to cuddle on my knee before spending the next 10 hours in someone else’s care. They care about listening to the Snail & the Whale CD for a few extra minutes, howling with laughter as I mimic the whale’s silly voice.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise I’ve been wasting all those fleeting moments in the selfish pursuit of a few minutes’ quiet, or my quest to beat traffic. When I first started doing the nursery drop-off the staff would pacify me,

SelfishMother.com
8
saying “don’t feel bad, young children have no concept of time”. I’ve fallen into the routine and so have they – happily most days, others not so much. But as they get older, perhaps they do realise just how long mummy is away.

In a couple of weeks I’ll no longer be a full-time working mum. I’m trading it in for two days at work and staying at home with my daughter the rest of the time. My journey now will be different; I’m looking for some balance. I’m grateful that I’m in a position to do that. I’m excited by the prospect of

SelfishMother.com
9
going to groups and picking up my son from school at 3.20pm. I’m also slightly nervous about what our new routine will be. But I’m going to try hard not to rush it.
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- 18 May 16

Sometimes I’m like a fugitive in my own house. No, really. When the alarm goes off at 5.45am I tiptoe to the bathroom, making a mental note of which floorboard creaks, have a wee (no flushing the chain, just in case) and enjoy 15 minutes’ peace standing under a steaming hot shower, using my posh Body Shop spa goodies and thinking of nothing in particular.

My success rate is pretty good. But this week it’s all gone Pete Tong. On Tuesday, my four-year-old son started pulling on the door handle five minutes in. “You can come in,” I said, “as long as you sit nicely and chat to mummy quietly.” He followed my instructions (for once) and started practising his phonics.

“C-A-T,” he says. Very good, I shout.

“R-A-T,” he goes again. Well done, buddy.

Only the next time I pop my head round the shower screen, he’s on the loo taking a S-H-I-T. The glorious smell of my salt scrub is quickly overpowered by the not-so-sweet smell of P-O-O-P. Game over.

It happened again this morning. And I hadn’t even made it to the shower. My Gruffalo pyjama-wearing daughter stormed in covered in a sticky pink substance that was all over her clothes and in her hair. Half naked, I then discovered a full bottle of Calpol had been emptied into her bed. It had even made its way onto the brand new mattress I bought the week before. F-U-C-K I muttered, out of earshot.

This inevitably triggered a series of crotchety exchanges between daddy and me. He swiftly came to the conclusion that it was indeed mummy’s fault for leaving the bottle around without the cap fully screwed on. Yes, judge. Guilty as charged.

I left the mess where it was, had a two-minute shower, stripped off the Gruffalo and wiped her down with a flannel (there was no time for a bath). Needless, she was less than impressed – and boy, did she let me know. Big Brother also got thumped with a plastic zebra for winding her up. All before 6:20am.

On with the rest of the routine: breakfast served (in the wrong bowl, so I’m told), sandwiches made (“I don’t like cheese, mummy), children wrestled into coats and bundled into the car by 7:00am. A minute late and I’m buggered. Then I remembered the sticky bed sheets, so out of the car I hopped to load the washing machine. The next half-hour was spent rushing to drop off Madam off at 7.15am, then his Lordship at 7.30am. It was at least ten minutes into my onward journey when I realised I was still listening to Room on the Broom.

Switch to radio, and R-E-L-A-X. Only I’ve forgotten how. For the past few years I’ve been confined to my car for an hour-and-a-half commute every morning and evening, often with the clock working against me. The constant rush has got the best of me and, dare I say, I’ve let it. I’ve perpetuated these instances of chaos by displaying my frustration to the max, screeching at the children to the point where they no longer listen and – worst of all – passing on my anxiety about being punctual, which we all know is rarely always possible with children in tow. I have officially become 100% impatient – and so have they.

Only lately have the repercussions of my actions started to hit home. The kids don’t care if the roads are chock-a-block, or whether their toast has been buttered by 6.45am sharp. And why should they? They’re kids, doing what kids do. What they do care about is having five minutes to cuddle on my knee before spending the next 10 hours in someone else’s care. They care about listening to the Snail & the Whale CD for a few extra minutes, howling with laughter as I mimic the whale’s silly voice.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise I’ve been wasting all those fleeting moments in the selfish pursuit of a few minutes’ quiet, or my quest to beat traffic. When I first started doing the nursery drop-off the staff would pacify me, saying “don’t feel bad, young children have no concept of time”. I’ve fallen into the routine and so have they – happily most days, others not so much. But as they get older, perhaps they do realise just how long mummy is away.

In a couple of weeks I’ll no longer be a full-time working mum. I’m trading it in for two days at work and staying at home with my daughter the rest of the time. My journey now will be different; I’m looking for some balance. I’m grateful that I’m in a position to do that. I’m excited by the prospect of going to groups and picking up my son from school at 3.20pm. I’m also slightly nervous about what our new routine will be. But I’m going to try hard not to rush it.

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Journalist and mother to two tiny tearaways. Originally from Warwickshire, now living with my American husband in Manchester. Often found drinking craft ale, watching Eastenders (guilty pleasure) and eating posh nosh – all while wearing PJs.

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