Monday, August 24, 2009

My New Executive Assistant - Me

I have a minute between admiring Posy's imaginary kittens (there are nine of them - they all have names, and new beautiful dresses every day. With matching shoes) and starting dinner, to report on progress. 6am? Quite dark, actually. To be scrupulously honest I haven't actually been up at the dot of six yet. Ten past, yes, half past, yes, a quarter to seven, yes, and one disastrous day, half past seven. Musn't repeat that one. The most important thing is that I have been up and dressed and breakfasted before the family gets up every day for the past month. It makes such a difference to my day. Sometimes I just sit and gaze vaguely at the sunrise, sometimes I get loads of washing on and open my mail. Sometimes I even put lipstick on, just to present an impression of early morning perkiness (the first time I did that Rosy looked at me suspiciously and said, "Where are you going?"). Some days I even do feel slightly perky, especially if I manage my first cup of tea before Posy starts bellowing. Plus, it's the only time of day that I can be all alone, in the quiet of a sleeping house. Priceless.

I can confidently say that I have successfully nagged and brow beaten my family into clearing up after meals, with a little finishing off and shining up by yours truly. I am a little worried that a shining sink makes me so happy. My next project is to open my mail every day. I hate opening mail (except for nice mail, of course, like presents, and actual hand written letters), and so I cleverly avoid it by throwing it in a drawer. Of course, this does tend to have some administrative drawbacks, so from now on I am going to be positively courageous, and open my mail every morning before there are any four year olds around to 'help'. And then I am going to pay the bills, and file stuff, and write 'notes to self' in my diary. It will be the all new administrative me. All before seven in the morning...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Waking Up With Betsy

When Tom awoke in the morning, Betsy was already dressed. Her hair was combed and she had put on lipstick.
'What time is it?' he asked.
'Good God,' he said. 'Go away. I've another hour to sleep.'
'No you don't,' she said. 'No more rushing for the train.'
'This is the new regime. We're going to have a leisurely breakfast before you go to work.'
'Oh, God!' he said.

The three children came in and stood by the bed staring at him. Their hair was all combed, and they had on freshly ironed clothes. 'Momma got us up early,' Janey said mournfully. 'Are you going to get up too?'

Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, 1955

I do enjoy this novel. It is the story of a marriage - one of those wartime marriages where the wedding was followed by an absence of years, with all its associated trials and stresses. Tom and Betsy are in their 'tired thirties', parents of three young children. Tom is working hard for not enough money, and the family are trapped in a house they hate, and a life not satisfying enough. Betsy's decision to get up early and take control of their family life is somewhat of a catalyst for the many decisions the couple begin to make which lead to them creating a happy future for themselves.

At our house, if I get up any later than 7.05am the entire morning falls apart. Getting one child off to school, three girls up and breakfasted, dressed, washed, house more or less tidied and school work more or less started by 9ish takes every minute. So, of course, human nature being what it is, I sleep until four and a half minutes past seven. Still, whilst loving to sleep, I am beginning to think that if I do a Betsy and get up early and take control, then I will have a minute to breathe. I may be able to go for a walk, or open my mail, or even cook breakfast if I am feeling especially gracious. Or maybe just comb my hair and put on lipstick. I can but try. So, 6am tomorrow morning. Me and Betsy.