The night I got away

It’s the dream. A night of uninterrupted sleep, toileting and possibly a hot cup of tea or even (holds breath) a grownup meal.

The prospect of a massive drive to a Friday morning meeting could have gone two ways. Up and at ’em in scraggy pjs and crossing fingers that I wouldn’t get caught up in traffic or heading off the night before to be fresh faced and customer facing (ie Boots cosmetic counter levels of makeup applied in natural light).

In the morning husband had gently commented that I looked tired. My face resembled the lost maps of Atlantis after they’d be dried in the sun for a few days. Nights of broken sleep thanks to E and generally ‘having a lot on’ meant that I was a bit knackered. Unfortunately it showed. Being the good egg that he is husband suggested that I drive up the night before the meeting. The words were still mid-air when I said ‘yes, that would be great.’

It’s never a case of shove clothes in bag and set off listening to all the Ted talks I’d promised myself I’d listen to. It’s a bit like leaving the house before going away on holiday or handing over to a babysitter.

Things to consider:

Has S got a clean and ironed uniform for the morning? Yes, it’s the first week of term so for once I’ve got that sorted.

Has all the washing been done? No. This never ends.

Is the bathroom clean and have the loo’s been bleached? I’ll just give them another once over.

Does husband know exactly how E likes to have his tally egg? He likes it hardboiled, cooled, then the crack the egg, then the shell removing and the yolk then the white replacing in the egg cup with a good sprinkling on Malden sea salt on the side (do not use free flowing salt) on his monkey plate on the green tray.

How to soothe E in the middle of the night.

Is the garage locked?

Are my dish clothes bleached?

In a unnecessary hurry I pack a bag and realise that I’ll have to take S’s toothpaste as husband will need real stuff in the morning. Toothbrush gets wrapped up in a nappy bag for transportation. It’s hardly Conde Nast Traveller.

Fast forward to Premier Inn Huddersfield. Table for 1. Decent enough fodder, catch up on work stuff, throw back a large PG. Although eating alone is more commonplace than it once was you’re still regarded as a bit of an oddity.

Are you waiting for someone? No.

Are you being stood up? No.

Are you a Russian spy? Het. (Thanks Google translate)

Are you reviewing this Toby Norris? Absolutely not.

Where to sit is the first hurdle. There’s no way you can leisurely asses the room. You have to make a decision pronto. What you want is a small alcove, enough lighting that you don’t stab yourself in the eye with a fork, but not so much that you look like you’re about to narrate an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. What you sometimes get is an empty table for 5 with a Reserved notice on it, but you were flapping so much you just parked your arse there in the hope you’d be somehow get this table for free, no questions asked. You desperately try to spread yourself out, one area for the menu, one for the wine list, (drop the Reserved card on the floor), one area for the handbag, laptop and notebook. Take that chuffing Instagram. I styled the table! The reality is that a very pleasant but be-spotted oik shuffles over to tell you that you can’t sit there. It’s Reserved. Of course it is. How silly of me. So sorry.

At this point it’s a semi-scene. Not a Dynasty scene just a ‘oh look, she’s here on her own. Must be stood up’. Time to order the fastest menu-to-ping thing on the list and exit.

Night time is spent checking emails, socials, and regular updates from home. Before you know it the early night you so desperately needed has now turned into 11:30pm.

You go to bed grateful that you’ve got the opportunity to be ‘ on your own’, but the reality is that you fill that time doing all the other stuff you’ve been trying to do without two kids hanging off your neck. En route to bed I’ve passed a sign with a kid asking me to be quiet. She’s got an uncanny resemblance to S and you get a stab of guilt. I shouldn’t be tired, I shouldn’t need a night off. Suck it up, this is as the kids seem to say ‘adulting’.

Then I remember that she’d never tell me to shush, she’d be the first one jumping up and down on the bed and encouraging E to do the same. All of a sudden the guilt disappears and I can go to bed with a cup of Yorkshire tea (teabags from home) and listen to the hum of the M-whaterthesatnavsaid and be asleep within seconds.

Tomorrow is another day.

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