Things seem to have been quite hectic lately. And what with sleeping badly and having a cold (which, thankfully, seems to be clearing), I've been feeling a bit frayed around the edges.
Despite being ill herself, my mum phoned and insisted I took a few hours out. In fact, she posted me £10 'for a coffee, a cupcake and a magazine', to be enjoyed alone and somewhere I could indulge in some people-watching.
Looking after a toddler can take it out of you. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes I dream about being back at work: sitting at an orderly desk, lunches spent exchanging gossip, a typed-up to-do list to be dealt with at my own pace. Even the commute suddenly takes on a rosy hue. (Note: I conveniently forget the petty politics, empire-building and endless meetings. And the hellish traffic).
Still, as a mother you do need a break. The reality is that you don't get a holiday allowance, time off sick when needed, or scheduled coffee and lunch breaks. And a break is what I've been needing.
So on Monday morning (my only Joe-free part of the week), I took time off from volunteering and spent a few leisurely hours in a big, busy cafe at a local garden centre. I had a pot of tea and a cream scone. I jotted in my notebook and watched people and just relaxed. The rain was falling on the glass roof. There were huge potted palms and ferns and I sat and felt anonymous and slightly detached from it all.
It was rejuvenating and I relished every second.
(By the way, I didn't buy a magazine; I didn't see anything which appealed so instead spent the change on a coffee and gingerbread man the next day when Joe and I met up with a friend in a children's bookshop).
I've also realised that time can be obtained for free. Each morning I get up and launch straight into a routine of dealing with Joe, rushing around, multi-tasking busyness. No easing myself into the day. It can be pretty brutal. So I tried getting up earlier. Of course, there's a trade-off: less time in bed. But the fact is that time can't be conjured up from nowhere. Each day has the same number of hours and minutes. It's simply a case of managing them to suit.
And I for one would rather go to bed earlier, get up earlier and begin the day in a more civilised, less hectic way: a cup of coffee, a bit of quiet contemplation, a quick chat with Jay before he goes to work.
It's not being self-indulgent. Because, cliched as it sounds, you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. And a few hours here and there are perfectly justifiable, whether they're spent out, enjoying a cream tea, or gazing into the garden and gathering your thoughts before the day begins.
But a cream tea is a truly wonderful thing. Thanks Mum :)