Its 7am Monday morning, the busiest and most hectic 2 hours of the week are upon me. The previous nights bottle of Cava only slightly slowing me down as I try to organise thoughts and plans in my head. 7.00-7.20 is Dawns slot in the bathroom, so a shout upstairs and a returned grunt gets that process going. Breakfasts are made, lunch boxes sorted, uniforms thrown on various children as I consider the first coffee of the day.
Dawn has overrun her allotted time, so a grumbling mumbling Wife takes the 7.25-7.50 position. Katy's elasticated tie is being used as a slingshot, her cardigan is on upside down, and her shoes are on the wrong feet. So far so good, a definite improvement on last week. Dawn slams out of the door, then sheepishly comes back in 2 minutes later to pick up forgotten homework. I actually get a goodbye second time round.
Wife eventually graces us with her presence, leaving me with the 7.55-8.00 final slot. I actually waste 30 seconds of my time looking in the mirror, always a mistake as the day is getting old fast, as am I by the looks of it. I waste a further 30 seconds trying to convince myself the grey makes me look more George Clooney than George Formby. An argument I lose every time. No time for a proper wash, will have to use the 'spray the deodorant in the air and wander around' trick. Can't dare despoil the wonderfully sculpted noses of the Mums who are unfortunate to be downwind of me in the playground. Well not again anyway.
Back downstairs and it's time to redress Katy, grab a sip of cold coffee, and pour everybody into the car. School bags, lunch bags, PE bags, and handbags all thrown in after them. A quick look around to check I have everything, which of course I haven't, so I pick up the nearest three things to me, and hope one of them fits the bill. Drop wife at station where she realises she has forgotten her glasses. Apparently my offer of either a stapler, empty CD case, or a blue sock does not help. A very silent (well silent on my part) drive back to the house ensues. Back to the station where a grateful (again, grateful on my part) drop off is completed. I have now lost 40% of the household, 20% to go. This is the kind of fiscal deficit I like.
On to Katy's school and we are actually early for a change, and by early I mean on time. I get a puzzled look from the caretaker as I walk past, and I realise this is the first time he has seen me not running with a child under each arm. His look of puzzlement returns to a smile as I run back to the car to retrieve the forgotten book bag. I grab a handful of hair clips from my pocket and attempt to do something with Katy's hair. I stand back and admire my work. She now looks like she has survived a heavy gale, rather than a full blown tsunami, so I am pleased. I go to wipe away her tears of abandonment but she has gone without even a backward glance. I vow to deal with my own abandonment issues. Maybe next term.
A slow walk back to the car, stuck behind the slow procession of Chanel No5 fumes and Mummy's with buggies. I forget about a quick getaway, and holding my breath, join the procession. Eventually I reach the car, my face a shade of blue from oxygen deprivation. A few deep breaths and my head stops swimming and I am OK to drive. I should walk really, it's only a 15 min walk, but what's the point having a car if you don't use it?
I arrive home twenty minutes later. Bloody school run traffic, drives me crazy. Go to get the unwanted stapler, CD case and sock out of the car, but decide against it, you never know when they will come in handy. I sweep them onto the floor to join the map of France, the old video remote, and a forgotten Teddy Bear called Tongue. Like I said, you just never know.
I open the door to the house and close it behind me, maybe a little too loudly, too extravagantly. A smile appears on my face for the first time today as I survey the silence. All I can hear is my own small giggle as I contemplate the lazy day ahead. Maybe I will put a wash on, probably not though. Maybe I will wash the kitchen floor, almost definitely not. Maybe I will read the paper cover to cover whilst sipping a piping hot cup of coffee, I answer out loud. A resounding "Sounds like a plan". I laugh again. I am happy with my lot, happy with my new found solitude. Not so happy with this new development of talking to myself, but I'm sure I will get used to it.
A small tap on the door brings me back to reality. I turn expecting to see the postman at the door, but I see nothing through the frosted glass. Another tap on the door and I open it with a slight frustration. I look down and there stands my two year old son Mate. His look says 'you forgot me again', his mouth says "breakfast". I gather him into my arms, go back into the house, and recalculate my day.
Sheer bliss, plus Mate.