My new life

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Iíve just had a feeling I donít think Iíve ever felt before.

After pulling the polo neck cotton top over my daughterís head, rather like skinning a rabbit, complete with vest , Iíve gathered up the rest of the dirty clothes of the day from the other 3 children and left them on the laundry floor.

Now that I have another armful of dirty clothes, I start to sort the colours from the whites, and as I pick up the pink top Iíve earlier removed, I feel the warmth from her body still holding in the cotton. Suddenly a rush of the warmest, strongest feeling waves through me and I find myself holding her top to my face to breathe in the sweet, milky smell still lingering.

When did all of this happen? How did it happen?

Just 3 months ago, my life was a swirl of meetings, deadlines, suits, make up. Racing from the bed to the shower, to the car with a coffee in hand. Tearing along the road to work, reading text messages along the way and a thousand jobs already stacking up at the back of my mind.

Once out the door with 4 babes left safely at home with their nanny, I was no longer a mother. I straightened my hair in the mirror of my car when I arrived at work, took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold of my alter ego.

I answered emails, went to meetings, laughed and shimmied my way along the ladder of corporate life.

When I came home, baths had been taken, children were fed and already looking sleepy for their beds. A quick story on a lap, a check of homework and a kiss goodnight, occasionally a late night visitor. Then back to the bed, shower, work routine.

Suddenly Ė a change of plans, a job offer in another country and a chance to return home.

Possessions carefully picked through. What to bring, what to leave, what to give to charity, what to pack away safely for fear of moving it. And then closer to the time, shovelling what ever was left into black bags destined for the skip.

Teary goodbyes with friends. But barely enough time to contemplate the gravity of the move. Too much excitement and new ground to look forward to to feel too much sadness.

A sick husband of a much loved nanny and weíre on our own, panic sets in. A call one morning as the suit is donned and suddenly emotions rise to the surface. Mind 4 children, empty a house lived in for 5 years without the help of the woman who has seen us through the last 2 of our babies, taught us how to keep house and live on a different time scale and stood in as a de facto Grandmother.

Pull your self together Ė you have managed multi million dollar accounts, you have dealt with leaders in your industry and pulled it off with aplomb.

The next few weeks are a blur of activity and finally we are spat out at the other end in a jetlagged daze. Blinking into the winter sun, we set off for our new home. After the first week we are starting to find a routine and then suddenly, when my husband starts work, for the third day in a row I have polished, swept, vacuumed, mopped, washed, cleaned the inside of toilet bowls until they gleamed, I realise that this is it. This is my new life.

I rise just after 6am, spend a few minutes to myself in bed, wash, dress, make an attempt at my face and make up which involves some mascara and an eyeliner. Dress in something which I havenít recently slept in and doesnít have a smear of porridge down the front. Make my bed and out into the fray.
Iím followed shortly after by no. 3 and then no. 2. No. 1 lies cocooned in her bed Monday to Friday as long as I am not pulling her covers back and urging her out for breakfast.

The minute it hit me was shortly after my third day. Suddenly a multitude of emotions swirled in my head. I was trapped, my life as a career woman was over, all of my aspirations to rise above the stuffy chauvenism of my industry were squashed. The absolute terror of becoming just a housewife which I had harboured as a 17 year old had finally been realised.

And now I had no way out.

For the first two weeks, my life was a mess. I screamed at children to get out of bed, I dragged hairbrushes through knotted hair. I remonstrated that books were lost from library bags, uniforms werenít ironed, sandwiches gone uneaten and homework fussed over.

I scrubbed floors and scanned through cookbooks for the most nutritious recipes I could find. I wrote shopping lists and planned a 7 day menu. I shopped on a Tuesday, washed the car on a Friday, cleaned the bathrooms on a Monday.

Then one day when the sun was shining like it hadnít for the past 3 years in Irelandís summer, we found ourselves outside by the dam throwing rocks in to see the splashes ripple. We were laughing and shouting and then started trying to get the attention of the truck drivers passing by to make them blow their horns.

And suddenly I wasnít in a rush to get home for anything. There was nothing to be done of any importance. I didnít need to meet anyone. No one was pushing me to finish anything. Right then, my children were holding my hands and looking up at me like I was the centre of their universe.

As we walked back through the paddock, no. 2 looked up at me and said how much he loved me and didnít want me to ever go back to work.

Now I am making dinner at 11am so that I donít have any rush at 5pm. I am having coffee with people I donít really know yet and am not in a rush to spit them out the door because Iím not interested in talking about their baby who has reflux. I picked grass this afternoon for no reason other than to cart it home in the bottom of the pram.

And that feeling that I had when I picked up that top tonight, well I think thatís what they call absolute love, and I canít believe itís taken me this long to really feel it.