Laptop? Check. Handbag? Check. Phone? Check. Keys? Check. Children times two? Check. Bella’s school bag? Check. Day-care bag? Check. To do list? Oh no.
I was already running painfully late. Bella was dragging her heels, Laura was screaming the house down because her favourite purple sippy cup was in the dishwasher, and Cookie had decided that ripping up the freshly laid turf in the backyard was a good idea.
The first task on the Christmas ‘to do list’ had evaded me as I couldn’t find the bloody thing. ‘Mummy, I can’t do up my buckle. I need help?’ I glanced at my watch. Oh shit. It’s eight thirty already. ‘Mummy, it’s really stuck.’
Bending down to deal with the buckle situation, I was treated to an almighty blow to the head, as the pink sippy cup was hurled in my direction. It hit me square in the face. I swear I saw stars. God, that kid has great aim. I counted to ten, hand washed the purple sippy cup, filled it with water, and handed it to the pint-sized pitcher, still wailing at me from the kitchen floor. Hey, don’t judge me. If I didn’t give it to her, we never would have made it out the front door.
‘Bye babe, I’m leaving. Please don’t forget to ask your mum what day she would like to arrive so I can book her flights to Sydney.’ I heard some sort of half arsed grunt coming from the study. Good enough. I’ll take that as a yes then. ‘Right girls. Let’s go. We are already late.’
We pulled up at our first red light. ‘Mummy. Look, it’s Santa Claus.’ A very scruffy looking Father Christmas was coming at my windscreen carrying a squidgy and a bucket. The light turned green. I tossed two dollars out the driver’s side window and put my foot down. I am a frazzled mother who was running late for drop off, but I am not heartless. Yelling out ‘Merry Christmas’, I avoided looking in the rear vision mirror in case Santa got cleaned up by a truck while chasing after the gold coin.
If Santa did end up under a truck, I was none the wiser and continued on my merry way. ‘Mummy. Are we very late? I will get in trouble.’
Once again, I counted to ten. ‘Yes, sweetheart, but not too late. It will be fine.’
We pulled up at the school gate and I realised I wasn’t the only one running late. I spotted Narcissistic Nina (that’s what I like to call her) coming out of the classroom. I politely nodded, hiding behind my dark sunglasses as I stumbled past. Laura resting on my hip and Bella happily skipping up the rear.
‘Sorry Miss Smeaton. One of those mornings, I’m afraid.’ She simply smiled and gestured for Bella to take her seat. Phew. That wasn’t too painful. I am not being added to the worst mothers at the school list just yet. Miss Smeaton is a young teacher fresh out of university. She still has plenty of patience and a positive attitude. Give it time and she’ll be just like the rest of.us. Exhausted and disillusioned.
I came around the corner back to the car park. Oh shit. Is she waiting for me? Double shit.
‘Molly. I need to talk to you.’ I adjusted my grip on Laura, who was now dangling precariously from my hip like a free soloing rock climber, no safety harness in sight, and quickened my step.
‘I am in a hurry, Nina. Have to offload this little one to day care and get to work.’ She was leaning up against the bonnet of her new Mercedes, her intense stare boring into my very soul. This woman demands one’s attention. Truth be known, I am slightly terrified of her.
‘This will only take a minute.’ Her head was now poking through my driver’s side window. I could smell the minty chewing gum on her breath.
‘I really am in a hurry.’ The door flung open. Since I was yet to fasten my seatbelt and had been leaning on it, I almost fell out of the car.
‘So, you know Lucas’s mum, Mandy?’ No, I don’t. ‘She is sick in hospital. Would you be able to help with the Christmas concert rehearsals?’ Nope, absolutely not. I am far too busy. I have too much on my plate already.
‘When is it?’ What the hell Molly? What are you doing, you silly cow? Shut the hell up.
‘Tuesday night and the following Thursday night at seven.’ Just say no. You can do it. What the hell is wrong with you?
‘Um, yeah. Sure OK. I’ll be there.’ She waved at me with that royal wave of hers as I pulled out of the car park like a bat out of hell.
If I can’t find that ‘to do list’, I am going to have to start another one, so I can add this to the list. ‘Mummy, I did a wee wee.’ Oh, for the love of God.
‘We are nearly there, baby girl.’ I was now forty-five minutes late for work.
The staff gave me a sympathetic look as I came barreling through the doors of the day care centre. ‘Hey Tina. She is a bit wet I’m afraid, but I must run. I am late for work. Like, really late.’
Tina glanced up from the abstract finger-painting masterpiece that was being created on the floor. ‘Oh, no problem. Before you go, I wanted to ask you a favour.’ At this point, my brain had switched off completely. ‘We are having a little Christmas Eve party for the kids and need some help with the food. I know you love to bake. We would buy all the ingredients of course and…………’ All I could hear was white noise. I just wanted to get to work.
I nodded in agreement, handed her Laura’s bag, got in my car, and drove to work, not having a clue what I had just signed myself up for. Oh, hell no. She can wait. A call was coming through from Sue. I let it go to voicemail.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2022