6:15 am: First alarm goes off. After a second of burning realisation that it is indeed the morning AND a work day and that I will have to peel myself away from the warm bed, I fall back asleep. B doesn’t flinch, he’s in a deep and happy slumber. And this is just the beginning of our Blitz Morning.
6:20 am: The second alarm shrills loudly. I whine and knock the piercing sound off wishing for just one more hour, one more minute.
6:23 am: I mumble as I slowly and rather gruelingly swing my legs over the side of the bed, I rub B’s face to wake him up – I am his third alarm. I drag myself into the bathroom and start my morning ritual knowing that I have to wake a blissfully sleeping two year old and hurtle her into the car.
Mornings are a strict routine for myself and B. We’re racing against the clock for B to drop me off at the bus stop before they continue on their journey and A is dropped off at Great Aunts.
I realise that we have it much easier than others though.
We have one child to get ready. And that child is thankfully a semi morning person. She has the odd off day, which she’s absolutely entitled to, but the majority of the time she hops out of the bed and runs into our bedroom, waits patiently to get dressed, 9/10 times with my phone and Kids YouTube – thank you Disney Cars Toy Club, for keeping our mornings relatively pain free. She’s an absolute creature of habit, so we keep her in the loop as to when work days are, when we’re up early and can’t linger in momma and papa bears bed. Doing this means she’s easier to dress and get into the car. A gets breakfast in Great Aunts house and B and I eat breakfast in work (anything to give me five more minutes in bed is a god send in my opinion – I am not a morning person!)
So as I say, we have it relatively easy.
This morning I’m sitting on the bus listening to the gentle giggles and chats of a mother and her two year old son. There are a few glances, or should I say glares, in the mothers direction when the little ones voice gets a little louder than an early morning commuter would like. It’s 7:30am and half the buses occupants are hoping to catch forty winks before they peel themselves away from their warm seats to make the walk into work. Once they disembark they can stroll to the coffee kiosk and linger in the lobby catching up with co-workers.
I wonder what time their alarm went off at? Did they get their morning jog in, have their muesli breakfast with a hot cup of freshly brewed java? Did they slowly choose what tie to wear, what shoes would match their outfit? Did they leave the house in plenty of time to catch the bus? Did they have time to have a shower that lasted longer than 30 seconds because a toddler was crying for them?
I sound begrudging, and I know that everyone has stresses in their own lives and their own careers but the harsh looks and disapproving glances this mother received on her commute to work made me angry.
They simply weren’t necessary. This child was not being excessively loud, rude or obnoxious like some commuters we meet. He was not shouting or crying and was all-in-all quite well behaved for the forty minute journey. It was as though a two stone, little human being strapped in a stroller made these commuters nervous. Preparing themselves for some outrageous toddler flip or a full on terrible twos tantrum.
I think of the morning she has had. Not only did she have to do her own hair, apply a little makeup, get dressed, possibly grab a slice of toast and milky tea if time allowed, she also had to wake her two year old at an early hour, dress and feed them, convince them to sit in their stroller and bring them for a long commute. She had to make sure her paperwork was in order everything was in her bag ready for the first meetings of the day. And the toddler bag, packed to the brim with essential toddler paraphernalia which we all know means including the kitchen sink! She had to have everything ready and heaven forbid she forget anything or all hell could break lose, at home or in work.
I’m glad I have the luxury of writing this on the bus without having to keep my little one entertained and suffering any possible negative glances from early morning workers. Well, guess what, that mother is also an early morning worker. She suffers a long and tiresome day at work after dropping her precious child at creche who she so dearly loves and misses throughout the day. She’s conscious of how others see her as she parks the stoller and her son on the bus. She’s worried that he may get upset or loud. She’s worried about him, making sure he’s ok. And she’s worried about you and how you might judge her.
And when your day is finished in the office, her day is far from over. She journeys with her two year old home and she is still working, she is still on, because as a parent you are never off. Her mind is racing to tomorrow and what needs to be done to make the morning routine easier. She has constant to do lists that are never ending.
And it’s not just mothers, there are fathers commuting with their children, fathers who do the pick ups and drop offs. Fathers who balance everyday life with careers and parenting also.
Don’t judge a commuting parent. No one likes the commute but we have to do it. Smile at that toddler. Nod and smile at that parent. Lord knows it’d make a difference in my day if it were me.
To the Working Mother Commuting with your Toddler on the 7:30 am Bus
I admire you.
You are doing a great job.
I see you most mornings file on to the bus with other morning commuters. I see how some run ahead of you to get on the bus before you. I see the glares and the glances of displeasure as you and your son sit close to them. I see how people ignore you when you need help or look away from your son when he giggles in their direction.
I see how gentle and loving you are and how well your son responds to that affection. Your bond is clearly strong and these early morning chats and moments you have together has strengthened that connection.
I see how well dressed you are because you are proud of your career and work hard at your job. I see your determination and focus in striking that balance between career and parental responsibilities.
Tomorrow, I will talk to you rather than just give you a gentle approving smile through the window as you and your son disembark. I know what it feels like to work all day and miss your child.
I know I will see you tomorrow because you are strong and resolute.
I will tell you that I admire you. I will tell you that you are doing a great job.
Because sometimes it’s nice to know that people see how hard we work, outside of office.
From One Working Mother to Another