The sun glares at me through the bus window. I put my sunglasses on and stick on my headphones. It's a 40 minute bus ride into town to uni. Today is a weird day. Usually on a Wednesday I stay at home with the kids. On a Wednesday we have a lazy morning, lots of cuddles, breakfast. Then a couple of hours cleaning, the school run, washing, ironing. Then the school run again. Then cooking, more cleaning. The days fly by and I just do my best with the time I have. Time is stolen away from me.
This Wednesday is different. Warren has some kind of flu and is pretty much stuck to the couch. Today there was a seminar that I would usually have to miss - a one-off for some students to present their work to the class - to show everyone what their original piece of research will be for their dissertation. For various reasons (the world conspired to help me) today I was able to nip out for an hour to the seminar. I was over the moon. Sounds ridiculous, I know.
This isolation that I feel being a mother and a student - it all disappears when I am in university, when I am around like-minded people. When I am doing what I feel like I should be doing. Of course I love being around my children, but everyone needs a break, even just once in a while.
And so, a gloriously sunny Wednesday, the bus bouncing down the East Lancashire Road straight into Liverpool. Me, happy. With each mile that the bus travels I feel lighter. I feel the stress lifting from my shoulders. I feel free. For once, it is I who is the time thief.
Usually I feel the dynamics of my marriage as a woman. Although myself and Warren are equal in our relationship, there is always the biological or even societal pressure for me to be "Mummy." Of course I am "Mummy" and I love being mum. However, as well as choosing to become a parent, I also chose to be a student. I choose to be a researcher. I choose to pursue a rather more academic path. With choice comes responsibility. I chose to be a mother and ergo I am responsible for my children. I also chose to be a student, ergo I am responsible for my own self-development. Choices make us free and tie us in knots all at the same time. I am both bound and free.
Suddenly, in the sunshine - I feel very happy. I feel like I am the luckiest woman in the world. My life is full of choice, of opportunity and I have many different paths open to me. Not just as a woman, but as a human being. I do not have the time to worry about what I didn't do, or what I didn't do well. I complain about feeling isolated and yet on this bus ride I am alone, I feel the sun on my skin and I feel like I know exactly where I am going.