There has been a long silence from the Little White Donkey lately. I was in Scotland for ten days at a residential creative writing workshop run by the Arvon Foundation at the Moniack Mhor Writers' Centre not far from Inverness.
When I came back at the beginning of the month, it was to learn that Kay, who has worked for us as a mothers' help for thirteen years, had at last jumped on a plane to Bulgaria to pick up the little boy that she and her husband have adopted. She was on the adoption list for seven years, and it seemed that she would never get the green light. Then last May, she was summoned to Bulgaria to meet the child, and at the end of September received an email saying 'Come and get him!'
So I have been very busy adjusting to what used to be a two-person schedule as far as child-care and driving goes. The Big Ones finish school at a different time from the Littles, so I have managed to work out a car pool with someone else with a child at the Big Ones' school. But after school classes still take my afternoons, and it seems that I wear a chauffeur's cap from two 'til six or later during weekdays. Still, it gives me a better chance to be in touch with what they're all up to, so every cloud has its silver lining. Best Beloved is a great help when he's here, but that's only Thursday's lunch time through Monday's breakfast.
I thought that doing without Kay would be a catastrophe and leave me a nervous wreck. Before she left (on her maternity leave -- I don't know if she will be coming back to work with us when her four months is up), I felt as if I were about to leap of a cliff. Then she was gone, and I had to deal with it all, and nothing was as bad as I feared. OK, there are some tight moments, and some routines have to be adjusted: the children have to do more than they did before -- not a bad thing, at all! But things aren't so stressful, and as I said, I get to engage more with the younger ones -- which can only be good.
My personal time gets cut -- but I was always good at procrastinating anyway, and I now realise how much of that 'personal time' was wasted. There's no time to idly flick through a newspaper now, to linger over morning coffee or afternoon tea. I have all the housework, shopping, cooking, and laundry, deadlines for the weekly food blog that I write, and have started a novel...
... and have just realised that I'm procrastinating now. However, keeping the Little White Donkey going is one of my ambitions, so even if she wanders now and then, or stops to browse, the delay won't be for long. Soon the slender, furry ears will begin to flick again, the nostrils to twitch and wrinkle. Her head will turn back to the trail, and the little flint-like, boxy hoofs will once again feel their way back to the path.