It’s here. That most dreaded of Sunday nights is upon us. In fact it is a double whammy this year. The night before school goes back AND the night before I return to work after three weeks off. 2007 is the last time I took three weeks off at a go (apart from maternity leave, but that’s different. There was a handover and a person responsible for all my stuff). I dread to think what’s waiting for me when I go into work tomorrow.
I can see myself walking in the door, down the corridor and into my office, plopping my bag down on my desk as usual, taking out the laptop and mobile that have spent three weeks snoozing away happily in my bag and switching them on. I can see all that happening. I can hear the “How was the holiday? comments from my workmates. I know that a dragon is not going to jump out and bite my head off. I know that whatever has happened – disasters major or minor, changes to projects, delays, work travel having been planned for me – I will have to deal with it. And I will be able to. Somehow. But the stress of it all is already weighing down on me. That Sunday night feeling times a million.
By the time I actually get into the office I’ll be up hours. I’ll have made lunches, breakfasts, walked to school and back, seen the toddler off to Kindergarten and be planning the return journey – the school pick up, the library drop off, the Kindergarten pick up, the quick cuppa at home, put on a wash, then it’ll be off to collect one of the children from a birthday party before heading home for dinner, washing lunchboxes and getting everyone to bed so we can do it all again the next day. With all that going on, I’ll barely have time to register that I’m back at work. It’ll be a case of catch up, plough on through and stamp out in time to collect the kids.
During term time I don’t mind the routine and the rushing so much. It is not that is any easier. You get used to it, that’s all. Hectic becomes the norm. During the six weeks of school summer holidays – three working but with The Bavarian at home taking care of the bulk of things, three off work – the pace of life slowed down. A lot. There wasn’t the same urgency to washing laundry or the same importance put on bedtimes, proper meals or even the wearing of clothes. Swimming togs were released from the captivity of the swimming bag and accepted as a daytime outfit. Walks and cycles took over from car journeys. Books were bought, borrowed, read and re-read, discussed, read aloud, or even rejected in favour of invented stories of knights and warring kingdoms. Grocery shopping was done ad hoc. A litre of milk here, a pound of mince there. Meal plans fell by the wayside but new recipes were tried out. Day trips, camping trips and a trip to Ireland keep us busy when we weren’t at home.
From tomorrow we’ll be kept plenty busy. We’ll be jumping right back onto that hamster wheel . Once we’re on it, we’ll be fine. The dizziness will settle. The motion sickness will ease. It’s the jump that’s the hard part. We might even get to enjoy seeing the same sights appear at the same time, over and over and over before we stop seeing them and just go with the flow. Or maybe, if we try really hard, we’ll be able to hop on and off, sneak in a break here and there, lift the weight of monotony, because after all, as William H. Davies rightly says in his poem Leisure, “What is this life if full of care/We have no time to stand and stare./No time to stand beneath the boughs/And stare as long as sheep or cows”.