How are you?
Let me guess. You’re busy.
It’s the default answer of the decade. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy.
Little kids are busy, dashing from school to soccer to French to playdate to party. Teenagers are busy, with tutoring and tests, 25 kinds of social media apps to keep up-to-date at all times, sport commitments and part-time jobs. Non-parents are busy (although, let’s be honest, parents can’t imagine how or why, so I might not try). Retirees are busy, with ever-growing demands for grandkid-care taking over their days.
But no-one wears the badge of busy-ness quite like the working parent. We are the kings and queens of frantic.
I am a card-carrying member of this brigade. On the rare days I make it to the school yard for pick-up, you can guarantee I will be wild-eyed, late and sweaty, having vastly under-estimated the time it would take me to get there and vastly over-estimated all the things I would get done before I did.
Like squeezing in those eight different work meetings, and finishing that story I'm writing, and calling that mum about the sleep-over on Friday and filling in the form for Billy's excursion, and picking up something for the kids' dinner and forgetting the bread rolls for lunch and calling my mum because it's her birthday and texting my friend because she started a new job and getting someone to come and fix the washing machine that's been stopping mid-cycle for two weeks now and making an appointment to get that mole checked, digging out something to wear for that dinner with my neglected friends tonight and a buying birthday present for that five-year-old's party on Saturday morning at 9...
Basically, I am a walking cliche, one of the most popular memes in parent-land:
If you bumped into another parent - at the school gate, on the sidelines, at a party pick-up - asked them how they were doing and their answer was different - "I'm good. Things are pretty chilled at the moment, actually, we haven't been doing much." you'd walk away thinking, What is wrong with them?