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Sunday, 19 October 2008


I'm just back from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Wednesday morning, early, I finished packing my suitcase and asked the cab driver to wait while I said goodbye to Paul and the kids. For the next few days I would be away. Everyone would cope perfectly well without me, I would get to focus entirely on my work for a few days, Paul would be a hero and the kids would get presents on my return. It would all be fine, but this didn't stop the hot, pricking tears from running down my cheeks as I hugged them all a little harder than usual and buried my nose in their hair and snivelled goodbye.
At the airport, an hour and a half later, I stood in the queue for security, and had an overwhelming urge to turn around and go home. 'Why do I continue to put myself through this?' I wondered. Next thing I knew I was busy decanting my Aveda hair wax from its aesthetically lovely 125ml designer pot into an ugly Boots-bought 100ml container in order to get it through airport security. Shovelling hair wax with a plastic spoon, I felt a mounting sense of disbelief. I shook myself a little, took a deep breath and pulled my mobile out of my handbag. There was a text message from Paul: 'Hi darlin', you get to the airport OK?' I smiled to myself and texted back. 'Yeah. I'm a'right. Well, I will be, just as soon as I finish repackaging my toiletries to ensure I can't build a bomb with them, and get through to duty-free.' I had to laugh, or I'd cry. Again.
Thankfully, the fun of the fair soon swang into action on arrival in Frankfurt, and made all the effort worthwhile. This year, a lot of the things that I've been working on along with other colleagues in the digital side of the business have really started to come together, and the buzz and the excitement were running at a high level. I crammed all my meetings into a day and a half and was on an adrenalin high (only partially dented by losing my shiny new iPhone) by the time I left to fly to Geneva for a visit to see one of my oldest friends and her family.
It's always refreshing to spend time with one's oldest friends. When I see Jo, we generally skip the pleasantries and get straight down to business: sharing our very opposite but similar life experiences, hopes, fears and concerns. Jo is a full-time Mum to three boys and worries that she is not a good enough Mother, that she slowly degenerates into a stressed-out haridan by the end of each day and that her brain is at risk from turning to mush as she denies herself a career in order to focus on her children. I think she's a marvel, a committed and creative Mother with a wicked wit who seems to be able to make a constructive learning-based game out of just about any activity you care to mention, and that she shouldn't worry so much. I meanwhile, feel that I'm not a good enough Mother, that I'm not there enough for my children and will one day regret pursuing my career at their expense. She thinks I'm a marvel, can't imagine how I juggle it all without going insane, says my children will respect my decision to ensure our financial security and hold onto my own brain and that I shouldn't worry so much. By the time I leave we both feel so much better. We really shouldn't worry so much.


jonathan said...

Hi Sara,

Just stumbled across your blog while doing a bit of creative time-wasting; you might remember me from the days working on the Grove dictionary when I worked with you and, of course, Paul for a while. Very nice to hear that you're well and lovely to see that such productive family-making has been going on since I last saw you. Do say hello to Paul for me.

best wishes,

A Modern said...

There's nothing quite like old friends.