Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No charge, no power

On Sunday (3 days ago) evening I was slowly getting things together, cleaning up my apartment, packing clothes for Zoe and me, carefully selecting what we needed for four weeks in the US. Luckily it is summer and we mainly need dresses and sandals. I also needed a suit jacket for my talks and a couple of books for reading. I still had an article to revise, which I planed to do on the plane while Zoe would be watching newly downloaded cartoons on the iPad, so I figured I might as well charge my computer. Except the charger was not in my bag. In fact it was nowhere in my apartment and I concluded that I had to have left it in the office on Friday. I called my friend and colleague praying that he was also still on an old macbook and could lend me his charger but he had upgraded to the new one with the new charger plug. I cursed. With a 10 am flight the next morning and a sleepy 4 year old there was no chance that I could make the 45 minute trip to the office and back with her. It would mean a very delayed bedtime and a cranky girl the next morning. Besides, we hadn't had dinner.

The big wonder (and annoyance) of my situation was how I had gotten to Sunday night before noticing. But then I remembered a busy weekend starting with me rushing out of the office because I had a date Friday evening. An actual real date. I had chores to do before getting home, a dress to put on and lipstick to apply and rushed out around 5:30 pm. Saturday I spend most of the day out with Zoe and my friend who babysat her the night before and Sunday I packed my big suitcase and helped Zoe sort her toys. I guess I should be happy that I hadn't felt the need to work on a Saturday evening but still now I cursed myself for charging it last minute. I could even have run over to get a new charger before 4pm on Sunday.

But even more, it made me reflect on how this is exactly the type of situation I run in to all the time being a single parent. There is simply no buffer for mistakes. There is nobody to send down for milk when you realize you are out at 7pm and the child is screaming because that is the only thing she wants (and she doesn't want to go with you). I can't just leave the suitcase outside the bathroom in the airport with someone else while taking her inside.  And she is not old enough to go on her own. I can't run down for a workout for just an hour while she is playing at home (which is part of the reason I haven't been to the gym more than twice for 2-3 months, and part of the reason I have gained %$^&*@$ 3 kg in the same time span, the SATS mini is closed over the summer). And I can't just carve out two hours to work on a paper while someone else is looking after her. Well, I could and sometimes do get a babysitter in for a couple of hours on a sunday (however both my regular ones are on holiday), but this is July and July is very special in Sweden. It is sacred in terms of holiday and it is slowly getting to me.

I feel guilty that I don't think I can take a full month off to be with Zoe (technically I have that much vacation, career wise that would be academic suicide). I try to take a week off and work a week, while mixing the things the other weeks. Except I have no daycare because I refuse to put Zoe into a new Swedish daycare for 3 days when she will also be in a new daycare for 2 weeks in the US so I tell myself that I can just work a bit in the evenings. But the bright summer nights means she sleeps at 10pm and I'm exhausted and feel I deserve a glass of rose which makes it impossible to have a coherent thought around 11pm when I have cleared the toys and done the dishes. The end result is that I find myself with a research paper that still needs hours of revision by the end of this week, another paper that needs to be written before the end of the summer and two talks to be prepared for my US trip, just to mention the really important stuff. And a 4 year old to take care of 24/7 (her dad is already in California). All due to bad decisions and bad planning on my part.

Going to California and New York for a month
On the bright side I'm really proud of myself as a mom. I actually spent a lot of quality time with Zoe already this summer. From our weekend trip to the summerhouse and the week-long holiday in Copenhagen where we rented a bike and rode around to all the playgrounds, all the paddling pools and ate sushi too many evenings. I have been attentive to her and listened, we have played and danced around the living room and hotel rooms. And I know what old wrinkly Louise will tell young Louise in 20-30 years time: Those times you spent with Zoe were way more important than your research papers and what you have given her of your time will come back 1000-fold. But who am I kidding? The same wrinkly Louise will also add wryly: But if you had just slept just a little less, drunk a little less rose, you would have finished those paper earlier, written your book before you applied for that job and gotten promoted to professor just a bit earlier. And that ambitious part of you would have been happier.

I packed up my laptop without my charger. On the plane I watched a movie, read the Economist and 4 pages in a book. When I got to NY I couldn't drag Zoe out to buy a charger but got one the next day. Instead of revising my paper, the first thing I did with my newly charged computer was writing this blogpost. Bad decisions and everything.

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