Don’t judge a mother by her cover

Today someone said the nicest but possibly the strangest thing to me.

‘Gosh Ali, you always look like you have your shit together.’
Yes! The cover is working. Holy Helen of Troy. I thought I looked the OPPOSITE of ‘together’ most days, but this little comment put a spring in my step.
But hang on, is that what I really strive to do… cover up all my flaws with a cheeky grin and a shirt I’ve hung next to the hot shower to sort out it’s crinkles?
So I’m going to be super honest,  most days I don’t have my shit together. Most days it’s a big egg scramble and it’s freaking tough to do it all. I’m constantly wishing I was a carefree mum, cruising around  in my Seed Heritage chambray, puffer vest and soy decaf latte watching my son eat stems of broccoli and asking me if he can brush his teeth.
The last day my husband and I had off together was Father’s Day – two months ago. We spent the day in Barwon Heads as a little family and it was ace. Our next day off together is likely to be Christmas Eve. We normally have three nights off a week together and the other nights we usually see each other during a high five in the hallway before one of us has to head to work, or sometimes one of us just doesn’t get home until super late because we are at work. But it’s ok. This is our life and it’s a busy one. Most weeks it works, some weeks the logistics are so stressful I suffer hard from IBS thinking about the very limited options we have. 
But the truth is, most days are pretty grotty, snotty and now filled with potty (mouth and usage). Here’s a snapshot of ONE day in my week. Let’s say… today. Ok. Go.
5.50am    Alfie wakes up and comes into our room. His pants are wet. So I get up and he runs around.
6.00am    I have a pantless child refusing to put on a nappy screaming at me that he wants a sticker. I give in and he puts it on our fridge. I scratch it off, caring.
6.15am    I start making my lunch for work, Alfie knocks it off the bench by accident while trying to get my attention. I give up and we sit and watch some pulsatingly weird colourful kids show on ABC2. I look at Facebook on my phone, post something about it being Back to the Future day, feel guilty about why I care about that rather then my son sitting next to me and pop it in my work bag.
6.30am  Still no pants on my kid. He wees on the kitchen floor. Hubby gets up. He’s running late and has to be at work by 7.30am. Bribe the kid into wearing clothes… something about Santa and parcels and maybe cake.
6.45am  We drink instant coffee and talk about how late we are but we are both standing in the kitchen in our Kmart pjs. The Kid shovels half a banana into his mouth, the rest is pushed into the couch. Cheef Dog arises.
7.00am  Hubby is in the shower and takes ages. I start getting annoyed as I need to use the bathroom. I pace past the door, which is open. No one in our house is allowed to close the bathroom door according to Alfie. Cheef Dog does poos in the yard. Alfie looks through the window and counts them as they come out.
7.15am  I’m in the shower. I have five minutes to get ready for work before hubby has to leave for work. I curse. Spend most of my time squeezing a pimple, only to make a big red bump on my face.
7.20am  Hubby heads to work, I wrestle Alfie into the pram while bribing him about seeing diggers/tip trucks /garbage trucks, put the lead on Cheef Dog and we walk and talk about diggers/tip trucks and chocolate cake.
7.30am  Guaranteed to bump into this one lady EVERY week who makes a comment similar to: it’s too early to be out with a child so young/too cold/he’s not wearing shoes/he looks sad/why isn’t he in bed etc.
7.50am  I bribe Alfie into the car with promised he can wear his backpack, eat cheese, look at diggers/trains through the window.
8.00am  I arrive at daycare and ALWAYS park across two parks. I’m always rushing and I feel out of place in heels as I walk through the foyer. I chat to the daycare teachers, and as I leave Alfie always explains to his educators that ‘mummy’s going to work to talk on the phone’.
8.45am  Drop the car at the station, jump on a train. Arrive at work and the day is hard and fast, running but also a sweet, sweet break from domesticity. I eat my breakfast and check emails. Phone starts ringing and doesn’t stop until I leave.
5.15pm  I leave work and run to the train station, get off the train and jump in the car and drive to daycare. Pick up Alfie, most likely in his third set of clothes for the day. We chat to other parents and the daycare workers and then we head home.
5.30pm  Alfie shows me a dance, how to drink out of the potty, pats the dog, shows me trucks, his paintings and tells me his fingers look like doodles while I start dinner.
6.00pm  We sit down and eat tea together with the TV off ALWAYS. And we talk about our day mostly surrounding trucks, diggers, who hit who at daycare and how  his fingers look like doodles. It’s lovely, especially if he eats what I made him.
6.30pm  We clean up together (i.e. he gives Cheef Dog his leftovers) and I run the bath. We have a fight about how many stickers he can have for sitting on the potty until I give in and give him four. He sticks them on the fridge. I scratch them off, trying to care.
6.45pm  I finally get him in the bath along with all of his favourite trucks and we sing some songs and he drinks the water. He tells me his fingers look like doodles. Sometimes he wees in the bath then drinks the water again.
7.00pm  He runs around the house using up the last of his energy.
7.30pm  We read Richard Scarry books about villages and hot air balloons and animals wearing clothes and acting like people. 
8.00pm  Alfie decides he wants to get up and drink milk and do some more dancing.
8.10pm  He runs around the house inviting me to catch him. He takes off his pants. I’m tired.
8.15pm  I get him back into his bed. He wants Cheef to sleep in his bed with him. I make up some story that Cheef won’t dream about carrots or some shit if he sleeps on Alfie’s bed. Alfie nods.
8.25pm  Alfie wants to get his handbag. It’s got something in it he wants to show me – a chocolate cake. My work phone rings, I know who it is and really need to answer it, but I need to get my kid to sleep.
8.30pm  I make up a song about chocolate cake and somehow the kid crashes. As I walk out of his room I step on some squeaky toy and my heart stops. All good.
8.40pm  I turn on my computer and check my work emails and sort out any lose ends from my day.
9.00pm  I write a story for the local paper and check in with my favourite photographer to see if he can shoot some pics. 
9.45pm  I pack my lunch for tomorrow and order my fruit and veg box for the week ahead.
10.00pm  I do the dishes and tidy the house, chuck on a load of washing. Fold the washing from yesterday.
10.30pm  Bed time. I’m reading a book called Toddler Taming…
11.00pm  Hubby gets home from work. He smells like oil from the kitchen. We have a nice cuddle and he crashes.
1.30am   Cheef Dog wants to do a wee. I let him outside and he chases a possum and barks.
4.30am  Alfie comes into our room, he’s cold. We let him pop into our bed for a cuddle… and it starts all over again.
So to  the person who told me I looked like I had my shit together – thank you. It’s tough working under cover but sometimes you’ve just got to do it, no one is going to do it for you. I like my job and I’m good at it, I like being a mum and I think I’m ok at it. Both my hubby and I have solo parenting days with Alfie so he gets a lot of our individual attention and it’s special. 
Sometimes I fuck up, most days I laugh  at myself, but the best bit of all is at the end of the day, when that gorgeous kid of ours is fast asleep and the pep tea is brewing and the housework is done, I can use my undercover skills to find that secret square of Lindt chocolate hiding in the cupboard which has been saved just for me.

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