Hey, beloved reader, how was your morning?
Mine was a catastrophic mess, thanks for asking. It was also a good case study for why parents need flexibility in the workplace, as well as a really good cautionary tale for people who think life can't possibly change that much when you have kids.
Oh, but it can.
If you think a working parent's life is easy, sit down and allow my morning to prove you wrong.
I pride myself in being pretty speedy at getting ready for work (mostly by skipping a whole bunch of steps). I can usually be out of the door in 12 to 15 minutes, and that's including a shower and a quick walk around the house picking up all the things my toddler took out of my bag and hid in the hours I've been home.
I did not break any speed records this morning.
What I did break was a glass bottle of bright red nail polish.
I was getting something from the shelf behind my bathroom mirror, I can't even remember what (I blame the inhaled fumes from the nail polish) when, out of nowhere, the red nail polish comes crashing down, exploding into tiny pieces and a flood of thick red magma all over the bright white sink.
It took me a few seconds to even realise what had happened as I stared into the thick red liquid splashed all over the sink (and the walls and a bit of the floor and all over my hands). Did I just cut myself in some kind of freak accident? Is that blood?
In retrospect, blood would have been way easier to clean up.
In what can only be described as a nail polish chemical fumes-induced panic, I grab tissues to try to clean up the red varnish. Handy tip: that does not work. I throw the nail polish soaked tissues in the toilet and, as a result, end up with a bright red toilet as well.
I grab a cleaning cloth and a bottle of nail polish remover and start scrubbing as hard as I can, not realising there are tiny bits of glass all over the sink making their way into my hands. The tiny glass cutting my skin seems like a lesser issue. There is SO MUCH nail polish covering my hands, you couldn't have seen any blood anyway.
So I just keep on scrubbing and thinking "thank goodness the toddler is not here breathing in this mess of chemicals and adding to this epic comedy of errors".
But hang on. Where is she, then?
I run out of the bathroom to look for her. Anyone with a toddler in the house knows it's never a good sign when they go quiet.
I walked into the kitchen, trying not to drip any red nail polish from my fake-bloodied hands on the floor tiles, to find her with her head in the rubbish bin, for the first time in her life. She's never been one of those kids to mess things up a lot but she's clearly picked a good moment to start.
She feels my presence and gets her head out of the rubbish bin to look at me. Her face is covered in dry coffee grounds. I'm not sure whether she's eating them or unintentionally exfoliating her skin but, either way, I decide it's best if she goes to the bathroom with me.
Using my arms but definitely not my fake-bloodied hands (which, at this point, are nearly fully covered in a thick coating of dry nail polish), I carry her into the bathroom with me, so I can keep scrubbing.
Bored of watching me scrub the sink like my life (well, my rental bond) depends on it, she reaches for the tube of toothpaste when I'm not looking, squeezes some onto her face and some onto her hands. By the time I look away from the bright red sink, there's toothpaste on her eyelashes and, unimpressed, she's grabbed the toilet roll to try to clean herself up (points for trying?).
In retrospect, I think to myself, I probably should left her in the kitchen with the coffee grounds. At least they're supposedly good for the skin (and less sticky to clean).
I get her out of the bathroom before she finds something else to destroy and rush back in to keep scrubbing the sink. The nail polish is, by now, as dry as any of my signature jokes and, despite the fact that I've been vigorously scrubbing for about 20 minutes (with regular intervals to save my child's life), it still looks like someone stabbed themselves in the neck in there.
The only upside is that the nail polish that covers all my fingers is now dry, which means I can message the team at work to let them know that, well, I'm probably gonna be a little late today. This sounds like a dog-ate-my-homework kind of situation and I can't blame me for not believing me so I snap a photo with my phone, at what I estimate is about the halfway mark of the cleaning process.
The team are sympathetic (and probably relieved it's me and not them) so I try to bring my heart rate down to regular levels. I grab the broom and clean up the coffee grounds from all around the rubbish bin then go for a hunt around the bedroom for all the tiny bits of toilet paper the toddler has been spreading around. The nail polish in the sink is fully dry by now so I might as well give myself a five-minute break from the fumes.
"Bottle?" she asks, again showing off her impressively poor timing skills (she's definitely mine). Now I have to somehow mix a bottle for her with my bright red hands. I grab some tea towels and hope for the best. It's been about 45 minutes and I haven't even had a shower.
I make up the bottle, she takes a sip and then decides "yeah nah", so that's 200ml of perfectly nice formula (or, in my budget, about a trillion dollars) probably going down the sink (no, not that sink).
Just when I thought I couldn't handle another curveball in the rollercoaster of emotions this morning has been, she does it. She finally does it. I pop her in the cot (just so I can finally grab that shower) hoping she'll play for the three minutes I intend to spend trying to get ready. And then it happens, the moment I've been waiting for her entire life: after more than a year and a half of being alive and needing to be rocked and walked to sleep for every single nap, she falls asleep. On her own. In her cot. Holding her bottle. Just like that.
I want to wake her up and ask her how long she's known that little party trick and why she's been holding it out on us but I don't.
I finally have that shower. The dry nail polish on the sink isn't gonna get any drier after all. By the time I get out and throw clothes on, dad comes home from his meeting.
If my life came with an accompanying soundtrack, some incredibly moving song would start blasting right about now (if this isn't Celine Dion-worthy then I don't know what is) because, honestly, this is as emotional a reunion as it gets.
He knows what's been going down and yet doesn't appear to be about to break up with me. Instead, he hands me an old toothbrush with nail polish remover and shows me how easily I can finish cleaning up my hands. I use the toothbrush to clean the dry nail polish on my fingers and get painful reminders of the tiny bits of glass that got through my skin. I have a whinge about that, then hear the toddler whingeing through the monitor. Solid 10-minute nap, I'll take it. Dad hands me coffee and drives me to work. I'm only about 20 minutes late, even though I feel about 15 years older since the nail polish bottle first broke this morning.
Please have mercy on working parents. We live three lifetimes in the time between getting out of bed and actually making it into work. I'm not even talking about sick children or all the other very obvious and justifiable reasons we need to sometimes adjust our schedules, take time off or even work from home. Even just getting ready for work can make us miss work.
Also, please send chocolate.
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