A day in the life of a Corporate Mom
So , it’s Thursday afternoon, the preschool administrator/principal/disciplinary figure for naughty moms tells me that the school closes at 11 am the next day, all kids must be fetched by 12h00 at the latest. The tone is very ‘ as a matter of fact’ type of tone. Of course the words ‘ don’t be late like you were 5 break-up days ago’ are silent. I listen and start strategising how I will make this work. Strategy development is one of those skills that one has to learn on the fly as part of parenting. My work had sent me on the course where little room for movement was allowed – just a 30 minute lunch and like 10 minute tea break. The venue for the course is 15 minutes away, lunch starts at 12 but every instructor finishes at 12h15. Maybe I should leave the course at 11h45 and face the wrath of the organisers, maybe I should pay for aftercare and fetch Mimi at 17h00 but after care closes at 15h00 on break-up day, my head is flooded with maybes until I give up.
Fast forward to the evening, my 2 primary school going daughters come with a letter stating that they finish school at 11 and there is only one school but that will drop them at 12h00 and their normal bus stop (they have to be fetched by an adult there). My overactive imagination starts imagining myself whizzing quickly to the preschool and somehow make is at 12h00 and miraculously make it to the bus stop on the other side of town at exactly 12h00. My logically side is silenced by my desperate side that says ‘do you have a better plan?’ later I accept that my plan will not work, in fact this is not a plan, let’s re-think. All brainstorming lead me negotiating to leave the course at 11h45 and fetching my Nii and Ayo at 17h00 (luckily their aftercare does not close early).
In the morning I wake up to a God sent sms ‘ Hi, I’ve taken the day off, I can take Mimi too’. This was from my God sent neighbor. That solves that issue, I tell Nii and Ayo to not get on the bus, I’ll fetch them from school. My mind wonders if this will work out. I am no stranger to receiving frantic all from school bus drivers saying “Suster, I’m at the bus stop, there is no one to fetch your kids, shayile time suster”. What if they forget and get on the bus anyway…I’ll just have to take the risk and hope for the best. I’ve already budgeted for huge Christmas presents for the bus drivers for my past and future inconveniences.
All sorted, I attentively listen to the instructors. 12h00 passes no frantic call from the bus driver, I make a tick next to ‘kids did not get on the bus’ in my mind. I have a bit of relief. The state is rudely awoken by a call coming in on the phone which I have diligently set to silent as per the instructor instructions. I routinely reject the call with ‘I’m in a meeting message’. The caller is persistent, would simply not stop calling. Eventually I walk out and take the call. The voice says “Hi, I know you only signed up to use my transport service from next term, but your kids are here at aftercare, all kids are going…your kids will be alone here….when are you planning to fetch them” . I say “I finish here at 16h00 so I’ll probably be there at 17h00 – traffic permitting”. The usage of the commonly used ‘traffic permitting’ phrase deepens my guilty. It means I might be there after 17h00. I imagined my babies sitting there all by themselves. I imagine them standing on the fence looking towards the gate and counting every car that turns out to be not mine. They’d be so hopeful they stretch the fence until they ashen faces protrude on the other side of the fence. Their navy-by-morning-brown-by-afternoon skorts would be hanging loose from their hungry tummies. Their ashen legs would look weak as they stand there waiting. Of course my mind erases the fact that
1. If the school says aftercare is open till 17h00 it means there will be an adult there.
2. Aftercare provides hot meals
3. Absolutely every time I fetch them from after care, they are jumping around and playing with other kids. The least energetic exercise I’ve seen them do is when they are glued to some sort of cartoon. Almost without fail they are absorbed by their activities they ask ‘why did you come so early?.
My guilt shuts my mind from these scenarios. I feel I have failed my kids once again. I imagine the devil a pipe-smoking devil in his long coat and hat. He gets up and writes my name down in an old tattered black book. Similar to the one naughty kids had their names written on when I was in boarding school. I notice on the cover of the book that it reads ‘For moms who fetch their kids after 14h00 on break-up day’. My fate is sealed. I quickly sms my out-of-town husband ‘Are we outsourcing our kids too much?
Fast forward to evening, I get home, all is well, the kids are safe. They ask, what are we going to do to celebrate break-up day. They suggest a movie, I comply.
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