The biggest challenge in our new hardcore recovery home programme is not encouraging L to eat. I’m used to that, and even though exasperation is always near the surface, coupled with grief at how scared she is of food, generally it’s ok. More difficult is finding time to do it, and being at home often enough. Last week, I go away for three days, this week it is C’s birthday and we are away tonight. Last night I needed to see J at school to talk to his tutor about college choices. And so on and so forth…. Along with time, there is also the challenge of random labyrinthitis attacks, with one striking on Sunday, my only proper day at home.
There are ways of being here without actually being here. A lasagne sauce is bubbling on the stove as I write this, and try to pack to go away with C. This will mean her dad won’t agree to soup for lunch. I have left him long instructions that L needs supervision during and after meals, what constitutes a snack and breakfast. L also has her 6th form college interview tonight and I won’t be here, but last night I coached her on questions and answers, telling her to remember how she has really learnt independent study skills whilst at the unit as much of her coursework has been self taught, with advice from staff.
All working parents know this feeling – relentless juggling, coupled with the constant sense of short changing everyone, work, children, partners – and you. In our heads there is a forever full waiting room of those deserving of more time, of ‘quality time’. Ah quality time, how I hate that term. It means not enough time, but we will make the very most of it, either doing something unnaturally ‘mumsy’ or exciting, when all you want to do is crash out with a glass of wine. What most working mothers really crave is dull as dishwater time. Watching junk TV, sitting doing not very much or even the luxury of enough time to get everything done. These days quality time is more easily defined as time in which my Blackberry is switched off. And as for time for ourselves, or our partners, too often it is just another thing to do, another thing to berate ourselves for never finding the time, in our never-ending tail chasing cycle of guilt.