Awake at six am, two minutes to breathe. Then it begins.
Up and into the kitchen, kettle on, bowls and spoons out, get cereal and juice ready. Shout the kids, quick shower, out, and now really cajole the kids down to eat.
Play a game – ‘Who can get dressed the quickest?’ – how much longer will they still fall for that?
Out the door, walk the kids to the school gates, remind one about P.E. and assure the other you’ll be there for the concert at lunchtime.
Run to bus, panic at traffic, get to work on time – just. Manager gives you a look. Please God, no call from the teacher today.
No lunch, but manic running around means you see the show (The definitive guide to parenting: ‘Show Up’). Back to work.
Boss being an insufferable bore, as usual, but today you must get those reports done, no avoiding that. Working hard all afternoon but still finish late. Hurried call again.
Reports finally done (manager long gone) rush to sister’s flat to get the kids. Usual craven gratitude to a sister who says it is ‘a pleasure’ (and actually, means it) but this does not resolve your guilt and self-loathing for letting her, and your kids, down. Again.
Stop at shops to get stuff for your mum, kids complaining, stop at mums you have to take a tea, guilty you stayed so long, guilty you could not stay longer.
Tea for the kids, bath and bedtime, find the energy from somewhere to read a story, you all three love it, but it is exhausting and your head nods while you read. Guilt again. ‘Do the voices, mummy.’
Cinema at the weekend, and swimming too, if you forego your Friday night bottle of wine, a small price to see their joyful wet faces.
Julie has been juggling life since the man she thought she knew, and knew she loved, turned out to know he did not love her, and was not who she thought she knew, but a selfish, childish, cunt.
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