We’re about halfway through the school summer holidays and Dexter is off to the beach today. He’s pretty excited, as most eight year olds would be. We packed his bag this morning, both still half asleep after watching last nights Olympics Closing Ceremony (although by the time of the rollerblading nuns, Dexter had wisely fallen asleep,) but no doubt I’ve forgotten something.
Suntan lotion, towel, spare shorts. Sandals, socks (although Dexter is well aware, even at his young age, that you NEVER wear socks and sandals together,) and a packed lunch … all went into his rucksack and he was ready.
However, I should point out that he’s not going to the beach with me. He’s going with his childminder.
No, I don’t get that pleasure unfortunately. I pay a childminder to take my son to the beach because I’m a working, single parent. I’m not in a position to earn a living from working from home yet, (all in good time, all in good time,) so I have to go to work in an office to try and make ends meet.
The Guardian has published a couple of articles recently about ‘double jobbers’ and how, if you work in the ‘arts’ – and I would imagine being a freelance writer/blogger falls into that category – it’s notoriously hard to make it pay enough and so having a ‘day’ job has become necessity for a lot of us. Add to that the fact that a lot of us are single parents raising our children, and … well, it’s exhausting and sometimes, on a bad day, just plain depressing.
I’m surrounded by women who are lucky enough to take six weeks off from work to spend with their children, or women who don’t have to work at all, and I know first hand how tiring it can be looking after children full time. I’ve done it. I do understand. I also know women who work from home and try hard to combine looking after children whilst sneakily checking their emails on their phones whilst entertaining kids who are hyped up on too many Mr Freezes.
And I am in no position to judge anyone. We all have different lifestyles, different stories and different paths in life. All I’ll say is that if you are lucky enough to be with your children today, as stressed as you will feel at some point today, because you will get stressed … just take a minute to stop and soak it up. Soak up the noise, the mess, the laughter, because I’ll tell you this, being stuck in an office while my kid goes to the beach with his (very nice) childminder is bloody hard.
I feel guilty I’m not there. I feel guilty he has to be with someone else because I’m working so hard to provide for him as the sole carer/financial provider. It is my choice to work. It is my choice to have several jobs so that I can be successful and be in a position (one day) to provide a comfortable lifestyle for me and my boys. I could choose not to work. But I choose to work. My decision.
I’m coping. I am a coper. But something has to give. I’m not sure what it is yet but I know that I miss Dexter and today I feel bad I’m not with him.
Dexter, on the other hand, has begun making his Christmas wish list. And so life goes on.