There are things that mothers are meant to know. Things like not wearing white shirts (tomato sauce, peanut butter, jam and chocolate are all difficult stains to remove), not letting your children read scary books too late at night, and most importantly, having a flexible schedule on any given day. I think this last one is a kind of code for disguising the fact that mothers, or at least this one, aren’t actually organised enough to have a proper schedule. When I was a paid employee I was almost painfully organised. It was my defense against a natural inclination to disorder. Scheduling, making lists, referring to my diary were all ways of keeping chaos at bay.
Now I have a wall calendar that loosely tracks my days. It is dependent however on two things: remembering to write things on it and remembering to look at it. Today, I realised that there is a third variable which is actually getting the right things written on it.
My loosely planned day today included working on getting the proposed multi-purpose court for the school certified, that is, the plans okayed for construction which by some strange quirk of funding agencies, we are required to do before our grant application for the remainder of the funding is actually even considered. Then I was going to work on writing something for the website development for the Residents’ Association on that I could take with me to the meeting of the Historical Society tonight to give to a colleague. I also needed to take a cheque from the P & C to another person at the meeting who is involved with a different organization. In between these things, I had a loose commitment to such household necessities as laundry, playing Connect 4 with Blithe Boy and perhaps a little blogging. Just to make sure all of this was going to work, I called this person to make sure they would be at the meeting.
My schedule had already started fraying with several people at the school who were needed to sign documents and issue cheques not available today. I practiced shrugging and saying “manana” while mentally calculating the number of days left till the grant deadline. Then the person on the other end of the phone line complimented me on my plan to hand over the cheque, but pointed out that the meeting had been yesterday. Descent into chaos complete. Now I had to ring the president of the Historical Society to apologise for the absence of her newly elected and clearly unreliable vice-president. I had to come up with another plan to hand over the cheque and I have to connect via email with the other website committee members.
On the other hand, I now have a free spot in my schedule tonight. And my writing is going well. The Prussian administration is ready to take over Marburg and the comfortable life of the Jaeckels is about to change. I have a good pen, a thick notebook filling with stories, a enlarging computer file and a sense of purpose and excitement. This weekend’s Australian Review has the headline “Frustration, Obscurity, Poverty: Why do writers bother?” Because it is such a thrill when it all starts to come together.