Juggling balls

You know what they say about buses? About how you wait all day and then two come along at once, both vying for your custom? Well, that was me. Last year.

There was I, with three at school boys, scooting towards the big 4-0 and worrying about what I was going to do for the rest of my working life now that my full-time mother job had come to an end, when suddenly the buses turned up.

Bus no. 1 arrived in the form of the FOB and I deciding to up sticks and sons to take over, and adapt, the family business in Devon: the renovation of a beautiful country house as a weddings, accommodation and events venue. If it helps, think Restoration Nightmare on a much smaller scale.

And then, just as we’d boarded that one, bus no. 2 careered round the corner as, to my amazement and delight, Bloomsbury bought ‘MOB Rule’, thus turning my naval gazing hobby into an income-earning book.

So now here I am, juggling book, building project and boys. Unsurprisingly I no longer have the time or energy to worry about what I will do.

Mostly I just about manage to keep my ‘balls’ in the air, but being a ‘home worker’ at half term is, it appears, about as compatible as boys and soap. Take yesterday, for instance.

I was mid-cake-bake when the phone rang.

‘Hello?’ I barked, grasping my mobile with a char-grilled oven glove. The ginger cake was cooked, it just needed to cool.
‘Erm … hello? Is that, err, Hannah?’
Feisty Fellow ignored the phone, pawed at my jeans. ‘Is the cake ready?’ he whined – loudly.
‘Sorry, who did you want to talk to?’ I barked again, removing his fingers from my thigh. ‘I can’t quite hear you.’
‘I … I wanted to talk to … yes, it was Hannah … about holding our wedding with you. I emailed last week – September 2013 – a marquee on the lawn?’
A bell rang vaguely in the recently acquired ‘business section’ of my mainly maternal brain. ‘Ah yes… err – Kirsty, isn’t it?’
‘That’s right.’ She sounded relieved to be recognised at last. ‘Sorry to call you in the evening …’
‘No, don’t worry, it’s fin …’
‘IS THE CAKE READY NOW?’ demanded Feisty Fellow again, jigging up and down.
‘Will you please,’ I hissed, wedging the phone painfully twixt shoulder and ear, whilst attempting to cover the mouthpiece with one hand and cut up cake with the other, ‘wait a minute!’
‘Pardon?’ said my potential booking.
‘Oh, um … sorry, not you … it’s my boys – they’re always starving. You know how it is …’
Silence on the other end of the line. This young and free Bride-to-be, blatantly did not know ‘how it is’.
‘Well, anyway,’ I blustered, dolloping slices of cake onto plastic plates, ‘how can I help?’ I thrust the cake at Feisty Fellow, gestured for him to ‘scoot!’, and took myself and the phone to the relative sanctuary of the study.

Ten minutes later I had finished the call. Viewing arranged, details confirmed, booking, I thought smugly, in the bag. I congratulated myself, on managing to successfully combine the longer-term demands of a burgeoning business with the more immediate ones of my sons.

Smiling broadly I stepped out of the study, round the corner. Stopped – dead.

Three sugar-rush boys were playing a version of British Bulldog in our too-small-sitting room. Cushion feathers flew from improvised weapons of war; they squealed like piglets competing for slop. A saliva-sparkling cake tray sat abandoned, mid-mayhem.

‘What on earth?!’ I muttered taking in the scene. ‘EEE-NOUGH!’ I admonished above their screams; the noise gradually subsided and they collapsed, elated but exhausted, onto the sofa. I sighed, picked up the empty tray and took it to the sink.

Just occasionally, occasionally I wish I’d missed the bus.

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