So apparently it's International Women's Day.
I have celebrated by achieving new nadirs in parenting.
Humuhumu is off ill from nursery for the week. The bloke and I had agreed I would look after her today because he had to lecture. (Don't worry, I get uninterrupted working time later in the week. Equality, you see!)
We had received an appointment for Keiki to have his eyes checked for long-sightedness and amblyopia - since Humuhumu has both - several weeks ago. I tried to have it moved a few days ago when we thought neither of us were going to be able to take him in, but was told that because of cuts in local services, the next appointment would not be available for another four months. So we kept it.
It was at a clinic I'd never been to. If I'd known then where it was, I'd probably have decided to take the appointment at the hospital in four months' time.
Humuhumu and I had to pick up Keiki from nursery in the afternoon. The area around the nursery is currently a construction zone and its entrance is controlled by a three-way traffic light. The fun thing about this arrangement is that you can't actually see people coming in or out of the nursery slip road until they appear on the main road, and sometimes they block off the slip road during the day to do work on it. So I waited patiently at the light, observed that the road appeared to be blocked, and drove past and parked along the main road. Never an ideal situation when you're on your own and have two small children to manoeuvre in and out of a car. The walk to and from the front door was long enough that when we finally managed to collect Keiki and get everyone back in the car, we were already late for his appointment. I tried to keep calm and drove off to the clinic.
The clinic turned out to be off a tiny one-lane road with double yellow lines on either side, meaning that there was nowhere to park within 200 metres of the entrance. The metal fencing around the clinic featured a dizzying array of signs, which I tried to parse as I drove carefully through the narrow entrance and manoeuvred into a parking space. The wonderful setup of this car park meant that I was blocking off two other cars, and would have to reverse very carefully indeed in order to exit.
The one good thing about the appointment was discovering that Keiki's vision is absolutely fine. The orthoptist was the one Humuhumu likes best as well, and she monkeyed around the room the way toddlers do when they like someone.
We said goodbye to the friendly receptionist. I discovered that in the twenty minutes we'd been inside, two more cars had arrived and parked perpendicularly behind me. Also, someone was waiting to take my space. In theory, I still had just enough room to reverse all the way back to the gate.
And if I didn't have a toddler and a baby howling at me from the back, and if I were not quite so inexperienced a UK driver (coming up on nine months since I got my licence), I might have been able to do it, but after three attempts to get through the gap between the building and the first perpendicular car, I was very nearly in tears.
The woman waiting to take my space parked up next to the clinic entrance (double reds) and came to my window. Another woman who had just left the building noticed, and came over as well. Both of them were terribly sympathetic and understanding, which made it more difficult not to cry. One offered to guide me out, and the other to go in and ask the person behind me to move their car. I tried twice more to get past with the guide's help, but she stopped me after the second go, saying she didn't think I could do it without taking a wing mirror off.
A third woman exited the building, and after coming over and making a lot of comforting noises, moved her car so I could, finally, get out.
While all of the above was happening, the primary school next door let out, meaning the road and pavements were full of small children. As I reversed very, very slowly past the clinic gates, I managed to read one of its signs. It said, "This car park is for registered clinic personnel and disabled persons only." Ah. That would be the icing on the cake of this EPIC MEGA DRIVING FAIL, then. To any such persons using the car park that day were inconvenienced by me: I apologise.
After we arrived home, I plonked my children in front of the television (don't worry, it gets worse) so I could dial in to a telecon. Usually this telecon takes about 20 minutes, so I reckoned two episodes of the Octonauts would suffice to keep them quiet. But of course, this was the one occasion in fifty when everything was not normal, and people actually had to have discussions about non-routine items. I realised we were coming up to the time when I was going to have to speak just as the emperor penguin episode was drawing to a close. As the end credits rolled, both childrens' heads swiveled round to regard me where I sat on the sofa with my laptop. I cringed as they spoke/babbled simultaneously.
"I'm hungry!" announced Humuhumu.
"BWABAAAACAT!" shouted Keiki.
"Can we have your input now, Dr Nanila?" requested my laptop speakers.
I cast about in desperation and my eyes fell upon the box of Mother's Day chocolates I'd been given on Sunday. Flinging the lid to the floor, I selected two at random and shoved them into my startled childrens' mouths, which allowed me to give my crucial 45 seconds of input after a slight delay. Afterwards, I discovered one of the chocolates contained raspberry liqueur. (I told you it got worse.)
Hundreds of years of women fighting to be allowed equal opportunities in working life and pay as men, and you get days like this. Is it worth it? Pardon my sweariness, but (please imagine me saying this in full American mode): Ab-so-fucking-lutely.