I had a great day with the kids today.
I think that has to be said, to off-set the bad days. If you’re going to be honest about your failures you have to celebrate the successes. This wasn’t a super-mum day full of craft and baking, but a good parenting day.
A good parenting day (for me) is when the kids have had three meals that would pass an Ofsted Inspection (the UK authority that grades nurseries and schools, and insists no chocolate in a packed lunch box).
A day when the proportion of outside time to TV is at least 2:1 (we had three hours in the park this morning and another hour this evening, including a bike ride).
A day when littlest Martin has slept (okay, so he weed on the sofa but that was my fault for letting him sleep past the hour in order to pack away the shopping delivery and play a bit with my daughter).
A day when I’ve talked to (and listened to) real live friends more than I’ve read blogs and Twitter.
A day with no tears and plenty of hugs and minimal shouting (no shouting is unrealistic for the sleep deprived).
A day that started with remembering to brush teeth and ended with finally getting both children’s hair washed (I won’t admit to how long it’s been because I honestly don’t know. I’m guessing swimming doesn’t count.)
And, finally, a day when I didn’t get cross with hubbie for arriving home an hour later than suggested by his ‘I’m leaving now’ text message. Even though he got mobbed by the kids and dog and had to disappear immediately for some quiet time. I’m managing to walk the dog while writing this and even remembered to shove dinner in the oven on the way out.
All in all a good day. Let’s mark this and remember.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Will you have a hen night, do you think?”
Claire looked over at Kim with one eye-brow raised, a forkful of pasta halfway to her mouth.
Kim shook her head, her mouth full of Carbonara. When she could speak, she said, “No, what’s the point? You’re the only real friend I have. If I go out with the theatre crew they’ll expect me to get wrecked, and I can’t exactly tell them why it’s orange juice all the way.”
“You haven’t told them you’re pregnant?” Claire’s voice rose in surprise.
Kim shook her head again, more emphatically. “Lord, no. Remember what I said, about the Director being less than impressed? He’s already made some smart comments about me laying off the cakes. If I tell him I’m pregnant he’ll give the role to the understudy.”
Kim’s face twisted, as if her pasta was suddenly soaked in lemon juice. “Silly, jumped-up cow, she’d just love that.”
The girls laughed, but Claire felt heat rising from her stomach. “I think it’s outrageous. If Carl tried to sack me because I fell pregnant, I could take him to court.”
“So, it’s okay to try and force you to resign by making your life miserable, but sacking you unfairly would be illegal?”
Claire gave a wry smile. “Trying to make me resign is illegal too. It’s called Constructive Dismissal.” At Kim’s searching look, Claire nodded. “Yes, I spoke to an employment lawyer. I wanted to know where I stood. I do have a case against him, but it comes at a cost.”
Kim tipped her head to one side in mute question, her mouth too full to talk.
“You get a reputation, if you rock the boat like that. And it’s an incestuous industry. Oh, no one would ever say anything, but it might make it harder to get another job, if word got out.”
“Really? Now, that’s outrageous.”
Both girls chewed their food and sat considering the difficulties of their separate careers.
“Makes you think our grannies had it right, when they stayed home to raise the kids.” Kim’s face was thoughtful, and Claire wasn’t sure if she was serious or not.
She has to be joking. Spending all day with nothing but a couple of ungrateful brats for company and no money to call my own? Reliant on a man to feed and clothe us all. No, thank you.
“What will you do, once you’re on maternity leave? I’m guessing you don’t get maternity pay?”
“I’m self-employed, so I get statutory. Which actually works out not far off the pittance I’m being paid currently. It will be tough, though. I wonder if I could make some money as a live model?” She struck a pose, and they both giggled. “Or maybe the baby will be cute, and I’ll get her registered with a model agency.”
“Her?” Somehow giving the baby a gender made it all too real.
“Hopefully. I have this strange feeling it’s a girl. We find out in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait.” Her face lit with excitement, and Claire had a strange sensation that her friend was slipping away from her.
We’ve lived completely separate lives; different schools, different careers. This isn’t going to change our friendship. It’s just another alternative life choice, that’s all. She’ll still be Kim, even when she’s a mother.
The words rang clear in Claire’s mind, but there was something about the look on her friend’s face that gave rise to doubt. Motherhood was such a definite thing. A school could be changed, a career-path altered. But, once you became a mother, that was something you were forever.
A shiver ran down Claire’s neck, and she put her fork down on her plate, no longer hungry.