Andrea Mara

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I. Just. Can’t.

Three kids. Two locations. Two drop-off times. Three pick-up times. I do the math. Over and over. It’s nine separate car journeys a day. Forty-five car journeys a week. I am broken.

We’re only two weeks into the school-year and my new work from home life, and I am broken. Almost literally. My knees hurt. My legs hurt. And most delightfully, I’ve got pelvic girdle pain – something I had during pregnancies, and not something I thought I’d ever have again. The glamour. The absolute glamour.

I googled it. You can get it when you’re not pregnant , if you do “hard physical work” or “sit for long periods at a workstation.” So I suspect doing forty-five car journeys a week plus carrying the three-year-old to and from the school once we park is contributing. Then sitting at the kitchen table to work every morning and every night, on a not-exactly-ergonomically-designed kitchen chair is not helping. But the main problem is the school-runs. I. Just. Can’t.

You know what the worst thing about the school runs is? Not just their very existence, but the in-between hour. The killer in-between hour.

The preschooler finishes at 12, and there’s time to go home and grab a sandwich before heading off again (his current favourite lunch is peanut butter, cheese and paté on a bagel; I generally turn down his offers to share.)

We leave at 1 to pick up the senior infant. Then we have an hour to kill before the second-classer gets out. Often we go home. Typically, we get eight minutes in the house. That’s not an exaggeration for dramatic effect – we literally arrive home at 1.52 and have to leave again at 2.

So sometimes we stay near the school – there’s a playground that’s a ten minute walk away. Or a twenty-minute walk followed by a carry if you’re a tired preschooler. Hence the pelvic pain. We get about six minutes in the playground before it’s time to start the struggle up the hill back to the school.

the journey takes longer when he rolls a toy every inch of the way
the journey takes longer when he rolls a toy every inch of the way

Sometimes we go for coffee, and I try not to buy treats for them and I make them swear not to tell their sister and spend silly amounts of money on hot chocolate because it’s not cake, but still.

Sometimes I just can’t bear it, and I put the far-too-old-for-a-buggy preschooler into his buggy and we wander down to the library – this option is, relatively speaking, blissful.

Killing the hour five days a week is back-breaking and mind-numbing, so I’ve resorted to after-school activities. My senior-infant will do GAA on Mondays – yay, because she loves it, but boo because it ends for the winter at mid-term. Upon the horrifying discovery that GAA is only a temporary solution, I’ve just signed her up for Hip Hop on Thursdays. “What’s hip hop mum?” she asked. “You’ll LOVE it,” I said, crossing my fingers behind my back.

When I was making the decision to finish up in funds and switch to WAHM life, I worried about lots of things. Would I get enough work to make it sustainable? Would I be able to work at night after a day with the kids? Would we be able to pay the mortgage? Would it be lonely? Would I regret it?

But I did not worry that school runs would kill me. Or give me PGP. Who knew.

*

Being ‘good’ at minding your own children and keeping your own house isn’t recognised formally, and other than proffering reasonably clean, well-mannered children as proof, there’s no real record of ability. So often along with the badge, goes at least some of the self-esteem and identity. I am very grateful to Jenny Keane and Kate Cuddy for sharing their SAHM stories with me for this piece in the Irish Examiner: Home truths: Life as a stay-at-home-mother is a tough job

SAHM

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