Andrea Mara

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Best Laid Plans

At 9.34pm on Monday night, I pressed send on book 2, and off it went into the ether. Obviously nobody was at the other end of the email at 9.34pm on Monday night, and it wasn’t due in until Tuesday but I needed to stop editing and let it go.

Then I sat back to watch an episode of Stranger Things, dreaming of my first mid-term break in three years without work.

I had such plans – mostly beginning with B. Baking, blogging and books. I never bake when it’s busy, so when the oven goes on and the flour comes out, it’s a sign that the pressure is off.

And instead of sitting down to work every night, I planned to catch up on blogging – to do something with a few of my 85 million drafts.

And books – I couldn’t wait to get stuck into my TBR pile, and read more than five pages each night.

But mostly, my plan was to spend time with the kids. Properly. Not the half-measure we’re used to, where they watch TV and I sit at my laptop. Time out, tools down, pressure off.

At the back of my mind I was curious – would I enjoy switching off ? Or would I find I was still rushing back downstairs at bedtime, even if there was no work to do? Time would tell.

On Tuesday morning, the kids begged for TV, confused by my explanation that since I wasn’t working, we didn’t need the electronic babysitter. By 9 o’clock, I gave in. I got coffee for myself, deleted my Facebook shortcut from my phone, and sat in bed reading. I wondered if I was failing already at spending time with them, but sure where would we be without a bit of guilt – mostly I just enjoyed the peace.

At 11, I switched off the TV and started making a batch of soup. The kids were in the kitchen with me, and I was pretty sure that counted as spending time with them.

At 12, I sent them to tidy their rooms to be ready for Trick or Treating (I know that makes no sense, but you do what you have to do to get a room cleaned).

How she reacted when I asked her to clean her room for Halloween…

Then at 1.33pm I got an email offering me some writing work I couldn’t turn down. And that was the end of my mid-term holiday. It lasted four hours 33 minutes.

The rest of the week drifted into familiar territory – they watched TV each morning while I got work done, and in the afternoons, we did stuff. Sometimes the stuff was just playing with friends or going to the shops. Today the stuff was a walk on Killiney Hill, something that took much persuasion and left me wondering if I should just leave them to their Lego. But we got there despite the moaning, and they spent an hour doing cartwheels and climbing on the rocks, while I ticked the “we went outside” box.

There were no daytrips, there was nothing spectacular. We spent some time together, but nowhere near as much as I’d planned. We made granola and tea brack, but the rest of our baking ingredients are still in the cupboard. I’m still not finished reading my book. I wrote one blog post – well, almost.

And now that it’s coming to an end, I wonder if perhaps it suited me and it suited them that some work came in and we slipped back to our familiar mid-term pattern. It was all a bit “Oh dear, looks like we have to put the TV on” while everyone scurried happily to their favourite seat. Including me. Maybe my mid-term is representative of life in general – a little bit of everything works better for me than all or nothing. Either way, I’m definitely, definitely taking the weekend off, and since my husband just phoned from the supermarket to ask if I’d like Cava or Prosecco, I think I will definitely be celebrating sending off the book. Now if someone could just put the kids to bed?





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