Flexi Mother Pukka

11-04-2016 Daycare

Anna from Mother Pukka, with her daughter Mae and Instagram-husband Matt, in Hackney. Photographed against wall murals painted by Camille Walala.

In the end, something had to give. Limited scope for flexible working at her dayjob meant Mother Pukka was spending a few minutes with the urchin each day. Their time was limited to a few rushed minutes in the morning and toothbrushing battles in the evening. Increasingly, even that proved impossible, and she would only see our daughter asleep. Every inconvenience brought by transport delays or a colleague’s blundering was a fresh fork in the parenting heart. And so it came down to this: she could accept a weekends-only relationship with our toddler, like a divorcee after a particularly unpleasant separation; or she could quit. Fortunately, she went for the latter.

On a purely selfish level, I am delighted. I was doing most of the fetching and depositing, handling the dinner negotiations and logistical drudgery of day-to-day parenting. My deadlines suffered and my resentment grew.

But there’s a broader benefit that’s harder to pinpoint. After nearly a decade with someone, you get to know their quirks and moods. You know when they’re down. The minor muddles of daily life – food spilt, appointments missed, money poorly spent – go from being sources of funny tales to something heavier: an extra weight of parental guilt and the feeling that nothing is being done as well as it might be.

And now, two days into operation self-employment, something has lifted. Those minor muddles are met with giggling instead of despair. The family eats toast together in bed most mornings, at a time when the urchin’s hair is most adorably tangled and her eyes widest about the possibilities of the day. Work still gets done – perhaps even more than before – but at hours that work around bedtime stories and singing in the kitchen. Long may it continue.


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