Andrea Mara

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Coming up for air next week, since 1998

June is mad. So says everyone. Teacher presents and end-of-term nights out and inductions for junior infants. Sports tournaments and school summer fairs – and barbecues every time it stops raining for more than six hours.

I woke up this Monday morning and let out a long breath – another manic weekend done, and finally time to focus 100% on work – before the small boy finishes preschool FOREVER at the end of the week.

Preschooler - Office Mum

Oh, except the kids had eye appointments – a three-hour round trip to the clinic on Monday afternoon. And then there was the night out Tuesday night. And a workshop taking up all of Thursday morning. And all the after-school activities have finished up so we’re back to a million school runs a week. And holiday packing isn’t going to do itself. And work – the realisation that freelancing and holidays don’t mix very well is sending panicked butterflies into freefall in my stomach. It’s busy. I’m sure you feel it too. We’re all always busy.

And I wondered, how long has it been like this? When did this “always busy” state begin?

Not in primary school. I remember mostly playing outside on bikes and roller skates, and doing nothing more taxing than walking barefoot across the wet grass on the green with my best friend Sarah as a sacrifice for our two favourite people ever – Madonna and Michael Jackson (whom we were sure would one day get married).

And in secondary school, outside of exam time, the hardest thing I had to do was come up with a way to convince my parents to let me go to Wesley, and later, Hollywood Nights.

College wasn’t as busy as it should have been – I possibly let out too long a breath after the Leaving Cert. I was that person who thrived on the structure of school, and relaxed too much into the less routine world of college. So no, that definitely wasn’t the “always busy” time.

the college years - office mum
College years – not too taxing

And my Erasmus year in Germany took that relaxing to a whole new level – if my Essen friends are reading, they’ll remember how proud we were when we actually made it to college. And that one exam we had to do in the whole year, and then even that was cancelled. Unless drinking Baby Guinness and doing Karaoke on table tops counts as busy, Erasmus wasn’t it.

Then in 1998 I got a proper job. And so it began. Early mornings, a long commute, a day in the office, then a bus journey home. Routine again. And regular events puncturing that routine – nights out, college lectures, work events, trips away. I remember each time something came up thinking about how tired I’d be but reminding myself that it was just that week – next week I’d come up for air. Only of course it was never just that week.

(And I don’t know how it was so busy – from the vantage  point of life now, those days look very easy. But I do believe my former self when she says she was busy. She may have had a low threshold, but the true state is how it felt at the time, not how it looks in hindsight.)

Soon it was house hunting and moving and wedding planning and still the nights out and work events and travel. Then came babies and a whole new level of busy-ness, previously unimagined.  (How could they take up so much time? Sure they’re only tiny.) And each time something came up, I’d think “Next week will be easier – then we’ll come up for air.”

coming up for air - Office Mum

And here I am, a million years later, and the roundabout still hasn’t stopped. There’s a sense of mild panic at this point about all the undone tasks, the unfinished work, the unclean house, and the unending list. But maybe this is just how it is, and maybe the ad hoc events that crop up – while occasionally inconvenient and always time-consuming – are also a way of reducing the sameness. Maybe life would be boring without them. Like the eye-appointments that aren’t so bad after all and mid-week night out that turns out to be just the tonic you need.

Anyway, things will surely quieten down soon – next week I’ll come up for air. Definitely. I better just check the calendar.


Something else that happened this week: I found out that I’m a finalist in the Boots maternity & infant awards in the Best Parenting Blog category. Thanks a MILLION for all the votes that got me to this final round (and they all carry over – phew). I’d love if you could vote for me again – all you have to do is click this link or the badge below. Once you do that, the easiest way to vote is via the Facebook option. Thank you so much!






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