Officially I’m on maternity leave at the moment but, being self-employed, it’s difficult to completely disappear for nine months as there are clients I really value and don’t want to lose and jobs I love doing. And so every so often, I find myself doing ridiculous things like writing articles at my laptop while breastfeeding, or getting my husband to take a day off work and hang about my place of work, bringing my baby to me when he or she needs feeding.
Today was one of those days where it took a military operation to co-ordinate childcare and drop-offs for my three children, so I could do a few hours of work at a local university, where I have guest lectured in journalism for the past seven years. This is one of my favourite regular jobs and when they asked me if I was available this year, there was no way I was going to turn them down.
I admit, I was feeling apprehensive. Despite it being a regular job, I am so far in my kiddie bubble at the moment, I was worried I would do something ridiculous like baby talk to my students.
This is what happened:
* I felt ridiculous eating breakfast with my children in a dress, heels, full face of make up and straightened hair, but there is nothing like a bunch of young fashion students to make you feel mumsy so I wanted to look my best.
* I had a lump in my throat saying goodbye to Baby I. He didn’t seem bothered though.
* I didn’t do the school run for the first time this term.
* I sang along to Frozen for five minutes before realising there were no kids in the car.
* I turned on my local radio station and didn’t know any of the songs.
* I put on a local retro station and sang my heart out to songs that were over ten years old.
* I shouted ‘look, fire engine’! And then got sad that none of my children were there to see it or to hear its sirens going.
* It took me 35 minutes to drive 3 miles into the city centre.
* I instinctively went to park in the parent and child spaces before realising I couldn’t. It also took me a while to remember that I didn’t have to worry about having enough space other side of the car to get my children in and out without damaging the car next to us.
* I only had to get myself out of the car and no buggies, babies, children or change bags.
* I used the stairs rather than having to seek out the lift. And when I did use a lift, I got to press the button myself.
* I went to the loo on my own! And there were three women doing their make up in there. I sensed they must be working mums who don’t get time to do that before school/nursery runs.
* I waited for the little green man before crossing a completely empty road, like I always do with my children.
* I didn’t talk about my children for nearly five hours.
* I went to get a pen and pulled Spider-Man out of my bag instead.
* People did things the first time I asked them and without me having to count to three.
* I had lunch on my own in Pret. A hot falafel wrap that I didn’t have to share with anyone. I didn’t have to tell anyone to keep bottoms on seats or wipe mucky faces and hands. And I people-watched for 20 minutes. A guilty pleasure!
* My boobs started tingling at Baby I’s milk time. I worried whether he was taking his expressed bottle (thankfully he did).
* I overestimated how long it’d take to get from work to school without any children so got there very early. I sat in my car and read the news.
* I felt ridiculously overdressed for the school run but got some lovely comments from other mums.
* After looking at me very strangely, I got the most amazing smile and laugh from Baby I when I got home.
* Tea was on the table thanks to my mother-in-law who was on childcare duty today.
* I actually sighed with relief when I took my heels off.
* I felt glad that I still have a little while before I have to think about going back to work properly.