About one year ago, I took my toddlers for a late breakfast at my local coffee shop. This might sound rather leisurely, however, as those with young children may appreciate, it wasn’t…
Like numerous times before, I was forced into battle with two hyped-up mini hooligans, intent on chewing every sugar sachet on the table, making ‘cupcakes’ with the salt and pepper, and smearing frothy milk across every possible body part.
From every angle, ‘baaaaad mummy’ eyes flicked in my direction. I glared back, convinced that everyone hated me, so ready to just up and leave.
The final straw, I seem to remember, was the loud smash of my coffee cup, followed closely by a high pitched toddler meltdown, as my youngest did her best to secure a trip to hospital with 3rd degree burns.
As I carried both children under my arms, kicking and screaming from the restaurant, I remember noticing a woman on a nearby couch with her laptop. She was quite clearly enjoying the ‘me’ time, typing away and sipping coffee, not perturbed in the slightest by the ruckus I was causing. I wondered briefly if she was working or just passing time.
In that moment, I would have given anything to swap places…
She smiled at me as I passed — and not the ‘I want to help you, but please don’t talk to me’ kind of smile that you get when you’re dealing with toddler tantrums in a public place, but a genuine smile — and then she said:
‘This could be you one day, you know… working from a cafe. I’ve just dropped off my kids at school.’
I felt embarrassed. Was my envy that obvious?
Fast forward twelve months, and I’ve driven immediately to my local coffee shop from dropping my eldest girl at kindergarten and my youngest girl at day care. I’m carrying a printed out (unfinished) manuscript — Jane Bardot — and a pack of fluorescent highlighters. After ordering a long mac ‘topped up’ and a vegetarian breakfast — with bacon instead of eggs (I don’t eat caged eggs… bad form, Dome!) — I find a comfy leather seat and table so I can spread out my stuff for review.
Before I get stuck in, I drop an email to the author whose manuscript I’m currently editing. I want to let him know I’ve received the final cover image from his illustrator, and we’re nearly good to publish.
Just then, the waiter brings my supplies, and I pause to eat my spinach, tomato and hash browns, saving my bacon and beans for last, and then washing it all down with some gulps of my favourite type of coffee. Bliss… mmmmm mmmmm.
Next, I pick up my (bright pink) pen and begin to annotate my own manuscript as I get stuck in to chapter four, not having ventured this far into the story since I wrote it over two years ago. I scribble comments in the margins, using my highlighter every so often to indicate parts of the story that will need to be tied up before the book concludes. I don’t want to mislead my readers and leave them hanging on a plot branch that is never to be resolved.
And that what it’s all about at the moment — resolving the plot points, tying up the book. I tried to start writing the last few chapters without having re-read the book, but something was telling me I needed to refresh. Six months is a long time without writing a single word on my novel. I guess I needed to know if it was worth it. It is…
A refill of my coffee and one empty plate later, an old friend — who is pregnant — walks past with her little boy. I shout out her name and she comes over. It’s good to see her; it’s been a long time, and we catch up. She asks where my girls are, and I explain, then I’m told that her son is on his scheduled day off from kindy. He’s cute — really cute —and he picks up my highlighters one by one, testing their different colours on my manuscript, and then calling out their names.
“This one is pink. And this one is lello…’
His mother is a little worried. ‘That’s not your paper, buddy,’ she says.
I don’t mind. It’s only colours. And they brighten up his little face.
After we say goodbye, I finish my coffee and return to the task at hand. The trouble is, all I can think about are my two little hooligans, and what fun they would have with my pack of fluorescent highlighters. I miss them and wish they were with me. If they were here, I would order them each a ‘baby-cino’ and then watch them destroy the condiments.
Ah those were the days, I think to myself…
Then I laugh out loud, slap myself in the face for being so silly, and carry on with my work while I have the peace and quiet… wow, that bacon was soooo good, and this book stuff is just awesome 🙂
Bacon and books… it can’t get much better than this. Tell me your dream…