Commuters: what’s the story behind the scowls?
How was your morning? I’m on the train – back to work after maternity leave – exhausted already and it’s only 8.13am. I’m surrounded by silent, grumpy looking commuters. So I’m people watching…
Man in glasses not cool enough for his Superdry jacket is reading Auto Trader magazine.
Smart but smug-looking man in suit is scrolling through emails on his phone.
Tired, beardy man in baggy jeans is opening a Sprite and staring grumpily out of window.
Mr Well Groomed with Bose wireless headphones is on the iPad and typing on his phone at the same time.
Blue coat lady is cradling her phone and watching something on it intently, and just pulled out a baby’s muslin with little foxes on to sneeze into.
And me? Purple cardy lady looking serious, typing and glancing out of the window with wet eyes.
No one knows what kind of morning I had before I just plonked myself onto the last free seat. No ones knows I was up with a poorly baby at 3am, 5am and 5.30am for good. How my little boy cried into his Shreddies about Mummy going back to work. How he’s being packed off to pre-school as well as after school club today to cover my hours. No one knows it was the first time I’ve dropped my precious littlest package at nursery. That she realised where she was at the door buzzer and started whimpering and clinging on. And that she screamed and kicked when I handed her to a carer, little runny nose and red eyes seeking mine. I was strong for her, kissed her, stayed upbeat but ran out the door choking back the tears and feeling like the meanest Mum in the world as I dash for the train.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have had a difficult morning behind closed doors. Perhaps glasses man reading Autotrader had a porridge bowl thrown at him this morning. Maybe it’s on his T shirt under that SuperDry jacket. (I’ve just looked down and realised there’s some kind of food stain on my dress – oops). Maybe suit man isn’t smug at all but has his jaw set and game face on after an argument with his partner and a stressful day of meetings ahead. I’m certain blue coat lady hasn’t slept well and has a story about why that muslin is in her work handbag today.
It’s hard, this big work/life balance juggle, isn’t it? I’m not after sympathy, I’m just adjusting. And I’d love to know what happened in everyone else’s home before we came together to ignore each other on this commute.
Despite the morning’s challenges, I wonder if anyone else is as lucky as me?
After all the tears into his soggy cereal, my little boy pulled himself together, sniffed and wiped his eyes. He jumped down from the table to come and whisper something in my ear.
“Mummy, I love you into the sky. And into space too.”
That’s the real reason my eyes are wet.