Having your cake and eating it

“The summer holidays are too long”

“I took parental leave for August and I’m dreading going back to work”

“The kids are up the walls and could do with some structure now in September”

“I hate having to get her up to bring her to the childminder every morning when there’s no school”

“He’s too old for the crèche now but I’ve no other choice when school is closed”

“Camps finish too early but we muddled through”

“I’m definitely taking next summer off”

“I’ll really miss them when they go back”

“The summer holidays are too short”

Between friends and acquaintances and online chats and the odd bit of eavesdropping on the DART, I’ve heard every kind of commentary on the summer holidays over the last two months, and I can relate to every word.

This was my third summer at home with the kids, and my third summer trying to work while they’re not at school. In some ways it was far more successful than last year or the year before – they did camp for the first time ever, and I finally got the first draft of my second book finished while they were there.

They’re also another year older, and better able to amuse themselves. So morning time was for working – I could get editing, interviewing, and admin done, and they were (mostly) happy to read and play and hang out in their pyjamas.

On the flip side, I feel like we missed out this year – camps took up most of the day when they were on, so we didn’t go anywhere on those afternoons. And even after camps were over, our day-tripping was curtailed by my morning work schedule. On more than one occasion, we spent sunny mornings at home, then faced dark, rainy afternoons when we were ready to go out.

If I could change anything, I have no idea what I’d change. I feel lucky to be here with them all summer. I feel stressed when I have urgent deadlines and they all need me. I feel glad when the sun is shining and we go to the park or the beach for the afternoon. I feel anxious when I have no time on my own for days and days on end. I feel happy when they sleep in and I don’t have to rush them out of bed. I feel resentful when I’m tired of working at night. I feel good about the few day-trips we did. I feel sorry we didn’t manage more.

A few weeks ago, we promised ourselves a trip to Marley Park Walled Garden for a run around and coffee and cake – we’d do it the very next sunny afternoon that came along, we said. We waited and wait for the sun, but it didn’t show up, and time was ticking towards September.

cake - office mum

On Tuesday morning this week, I checked the forecast. A bright morning would be followed by afternoon downpours. I hadn’t done much work yet and we hadn’t had lunch, but with summer nearly over, we had to act fast. We took the long-planned trip to the walled garden in Marlay Park and had cake for lunch. Because sometimes summer holidays are too long and sometimes summer holidays are too short and sometimes cake makes for a perfectly fine lunch.

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