A Manic Year Over

Date: September 1st 2015

Mood: Wild elation

Source of mood: Three kids in school and preschool for the first time, meaning I could start working mornings instead of only nights.

Guilt levels about feelings of elation: Surprisingly mild.

Date: September 5th 2015

Mood: Spirit utterly broken

Source of mood: Realisation that 45 car journeys a week might just kill me

Guilt levels about broken spirit: Too tired to care.

And it wasn’t just about damage to my psychological wellbeing – I was in physical pain too, caused by carrying the small boy up and down to the school each day. And I wondered how on earth I’d keep going all year, when I couldn’t even make it through the first week?

There was no outright fix, but I stuck some plasters on the problem. I took the buggy back out, signed the girls up to some after-school activities, and did some carpooling. My 45 journeys became a slightly more manageable 37. And as a good friend of mine once said about working a three-day week; you can do anything for three days. Or in my case, you can do anything for one year. So I hoped.

Autumn leaves - office mum

I made it through a bright, golden autumn, and on into a dreary November, followed by a surprisingly relaxing first Christmas as a self-employed person. Happily, unlike summer, at Christmas-time everything in the writing-world winds down for the last couple of weeks of the year, so taking time out was unexpectedly easy, and guilt-free, and wonderful.

winter on Killiney Hill - Office Mum

Then a new year, and a new… well, nothing. Back to the same old school-runs, the never-ending cycle. The same journeys every morning, the same race against the clock. The same plan to get out on time without saying “Guys, come on!” and the same daily failure. The unpredictable Irish weather that had us over- or under-dressed almost every day. The heel dragging. The arguments over seatbelts and space. The missing shoes. The always, always missing shoes.

Cherry Blossom - Office Mum

Spring (or what is euphemistically referred to as spring) was dotted with school holidays and mini-mid-terms and random days that go unnoticed when you have a childminder but stand stark against the sameness when you’re in charge yourself.

And every time I realised there was another mini-mid-term around the corner, my first reaction to have a little panic about losing a day or a week of work-time. But it was always swiftly followed by utter glee – a day or a week without school runs. Totally, totally worth the trade-off.

tulips - office mum

And then came summer. Our feet were really dragging. And for the small boy, it’s been literal and figurative. Some days he just sits on the ground and says he can’t walk up to the school. There are tears and fights, and the school run became the worst part of every day. Three times a day.

I see the sympathetic looks he gets and the sympathetic looks I get – it’s not easy being the mum propelling the boy up the path but it’s also not easy being the boy who just can’t do it anymore. Our last day yesterday ended very much as the year began back in September – he cried most of the way to the school and had to be carried. I almost felt like he understood my love of symmetry and decided to oblige. Almost.

But finally, we’re at the end.

Date: July 1st 2016

Mood: Wild elation – similar to start of year, but for opposite reasons

Source of mood: No more school runs for two months, and never, ever again so many as I had this year.

Guilt levels: Ha! Zero. I got here, and that’s all that matters. Today I’m letting out a long-held breath and celebrating, because you have to celebrate everything. And despite crawling for the last mile or so, I got here.

Happy summer!

***

Speaking of summer – for many parents around the country, the school holidays are an expensive logistical challenge – calling in favours from family, paying for extra hours in creche, and signing up for camps that end mid-afternoon. For this Irish Examiner feature, I spoke to four parents about how they’ll manage this summer:

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If you’re in a voting mood, I’m a finalist for the Boots maternity & infant awards and I’d love your vote! The easiest way to do it is to click the badge below and vote via Facebook. Thank you!

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5 thoughts on “A Manic Year Over”

  1. Oh enjoy the much deserved school holiday! I don’t have quite as many school runs but I couldn’t wait for it to be over… In a way I love picking them up at lunchtime as I get to have a chat with them and it breaks up my day in the office too but it’s not always nice chats either! And it was lovely to be able to sit down and enjoy my lunch… 🙂
    Mirva / Little Messers’ House recently posted…#TBT: Bump to Baby – Mr MesserMy Profile

    1. I love the chats too – if I could magic us to the school and back to the car it would be amazing. It’s the struggle up the road that sucks the joy. Next year will be better… have a great summer!

  2. Well done for making it to the summer: I feel the same after the long long months of trying to prepare the teen for his Junior Cert and then helping him through the exams. A weight has lifted, have a wonderful summer x
    Looking for Blue Sky recently posted…SummertimeMy Profile

    1. You must be so relieved to have it done – huge weight lifted no doubt! Have a lovely, lovely summer – you deserve all the good things and all the sunshine xxx

  3. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one who has to deal with missing shoes!! I’m glad the school year is finally over, no more lunch boxes and homework 😉 And now I can’t wait for having 3 whole weeks kids free, do I feel guilty? No! Especially because I know it will be beneficial for all of us, they will practice their French with my parents, and I can finally rest a bit 😉 Enjoy the summer holidays!!
    Nearly Irish recently posted…School’s out…and a big thank youMy Profile

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