Andrea Mara

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There it is. Where it’s not supposed to be. A purple lunchbox on the kitchen table at 9.12am, separated from its owner who must have decided to tidy her schoolbag this morning after everything had been packed already. And I didn’t notice. Slippage.

“Are we late mum?” she asked me this morning and every morning. We’re not late. But we’re later. Later than we were most mornings in September, and later in the second half of the week than we were on Monday and Tuesday. Slippage.

“What’s for dinner tonight?” she asks me every afternoon. Sometimes there’s a quick answer. And sometimes, instead, there’s a quick dinner. Slippage.

And the afternoons are gone – lost to the chaos of homework and readers and journals. And signing everything. Lost to the groundhog day emptying and washing and refilling of lunchbox. (Stop staring at me purple lunchbox, I will sort it out.) Lost to changing uniforms and checking uniforms and spot cleaning uniforms with wipes because there’s no time to wash them by tomorrow. Lost to the dinners that are planned and the ones that are made up as we go along.

lunch box - office mum

And the five minutes I think I have for doing something else is so often lost to standing in the middle of the room wondering how best to use that five minutes. Tax return? Emails? Steam mopping? Laundry? Or that chocolate hand print that’s been on the glass doors for a week now? Should I be trying to have a one-to-one chat with the child who was quiet and withdrawn this morning? Or the one who is anxious about school? Or the one who seems perfectly fine and gets lost in the middle?

And the reality is, none of it is a whole lot of fun at the moment. I get that it’s not meant to be fun all the time – I didn’t change career under the illusion that I’d be living an idyllic life with the kids every afternoon, but I also don’t want to look back when they’re older and remember it as an unhappy time. I need to fix it.

And I have no big fix. So I’ll work on small things. I know what’s missing – my notebook. I used to have a notebook called “Five Things” but it disappeared during summertime (when the living is easy, and you don’t need so notebooks.)

I used to write down just five things every afternoon, and if it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t matter. So if the list says tax return, steam mop, reply to email x. talk to child y and make pasta for dinner, that’s what gets done. If laundry isn’t on the list, then laundry isn’t on my mind. It’s a sanity saver and I swore by it for a year, then let it go. Slippage.

I need to go to drop the lunchbox to school. And then I need to buy a new notebook. Maybe I should clean the chocolate hand print first… or grab a coffee for the journey instead. Slippage. But sometimes we all need to let things slip.

five things notebook - office mum





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