Being a mom and a freelancer is just not for whoosies. 'Oh, you're so lucky,' they say. 'It must be so nice to work part-time.' Or 'from home' or 'to be able to be there for your kids'. Well, firstly, freelance is not part-time. And, yes, it's great. I'm not designed for nine-to-five. I'd love a regular income but the soul-sacrifices are just too big for me. I wish I had the personality that dovetailed into corporate life. I've done the heels, the shoulderpads, the big hair - okay, give me a break: it was the eighties! Now I need to be in flats because I move at warp speed for most of the day, slowing down to a run just long enough to help with homework.
And so, that's why, after a late night of editing pics (after a mood-enhancing, totally uplifting poledance class), Friday morning involved sorting out goodies for the Grade 3 snack sale, getting a sack of recycling together and tying a nine-year-old's knotty hair into a ponytail before barrelling out the door to the Planetarium to photograph a women's event scheduled to start at 8:30 am.
I don't generally do events photography. I don't particularly enjoy it and approach it with a bit of apprehension. They always go well and the people are always extremely open and friendly, but there's something about having to wear a personality for a few hours that causes a slight fluttering in the stomach.
This was meant to be just a half-hour shoot. So bargain basement quote. She just sounded so nice on the phone and I feel a need for nice people in my orbit. Of course it wasn't a half-hour shoot. Nothing ever is. I lugged my kit home at 10:30, instead of 9:15.
Torpedoed up the steps to my computer to finish writing my Intro to Photoshop course, which I'm meant to teach in two weeks' time, ignoring my seventeen-year-old's 'when are we going' wails.
She's been on my case to take her to book her learner's licence for weeks and weeks, and I can just never fit it in. I had told her she could stay home from school today so that we could do it in the morning, but that I had work to finish and so she would have to wait until I'm ready.
Got the notes written and emailed and headed off to the traffic department with Firstborn. I would find time for journalling, I figured, intending to bask in the sun-warmed car and write while she did the red tape on her own. Also had a stash of magazines and a book for afterwards.
But, no. 'Awww, don't let me stand there on my own ... come in with me!'
I'm a pushover. So in I went.
I should at this stage mention that I was wearing my killer 'stop running away while I ravage you' black boots. They're not generally meant to be worn standing up. What? Sometimes I like to look nice.
So there I stood in my stillettoes from 11:50 am until 1:30 pm, just to make it to the first window in the trio of windows required to make the booking. Decided, eventually, to hold her place in the eye-test queue while she stands in the payment queue. Predicatably, inevitably, she makes it to the first window only to be told that she should have been in the other queue first.
By this time, a woman in Crocs had sidled up to me in the eyetest queue, trying to find a way in which I could be of service to her. If I stood in the one queue and she stood in the other queue, then it would go so much quicker ...
Yes, but see, I'm already doing this for my daughter and I've already been standing for an hour and a half, and ...
Daughter arrives in the eyetest queue and I vacate my space to go and read a magazine. Blondie in Crocs suddenly appears next to me, gently, familiarly, touching me on the shoulder. I must sit in her space in the eyetest queue while she stands in the payments queue.
Now this is where I have no idea what happens in my head. I say 'yes' (when REALLY I mean NO) and go and sit in her seat. But wait ... I'm crazier than even that ... I get up from the seat, go to her in the payments queue and tell her that it makes no sense to do it this way. She should go to the eyetest queue (which is seated) while I continue to stand in my boots, holding her space.
Did I mention that she was a total stranger?
So off she goes to sit in the queue while I stand tit-to-tail, pressed up against my fellow humans, in the payments queue. I did have the latest Photoicon in my sweaty paws, though, and I do recommend that you rush out to buy it.
Unbeknownst to me, she then tried to jump the queue entirely by trying to convince my daughter to take her to the front of the queue with her when she went to pay (the teller had told my daughter to come straight to the front after having they eyetest done, since she had already done her time in that queue, albeit erroneously). I think my sense of humour would definitely have left me at that point, had she managed to wheedle her way in.
In the meantime, Thing 2 had to be fetched from school at the other side of the mountain, and I had another shoot to get to by 3:30. Luckily, for a change, there was an available granny I could call on to fetch Thing 2, as the queue with Thing 1 was going to delay me by hours.
Got out of there by 2:30, bulletted home, packed up studio kit, camera, batteries, memory cards and headed out, still in boots, to Observatory to fetch my model for the 3:30 shoot.
Arrive in Observatory. No model. Phone model. 'Oh, sorry, I meant to phone you earlier to tell you that I'm in Woodstock for the day.'
Did I mention that it was peak-hour, main road traffic at that stage? And that my petrol tank was completely red-light empty? And that I was still in my boots? And that I hadn't got round to eating yet?
So off I go. Find model. Lug studio kit up the steps to my studio ... haul my camera from the bag ... dig around in there some more to find my sense of humour ... and start to shoot.
And there's just something about being in the studio, finding that space inside myself, when the rest of the world retreats. We connect. He starts to perform for the camera, I aid and abet him. And we make some really great pics together. I can't post them here, as the publisher hasn't seen them yet, and it would be very uncool of me to do that. But here are a few grab shots. I'll call him back for a portrait session sometime soon.
And then Thing 2 had to be fetched. Thing 1 and boyfriend wanted a dvd ('when are you coming home?'), supper, entertainment. Significant Other was at a cocktail party so I didn't have to meet any of his needs for a while. It was nine o'clock by the time my day of work and servitude ended. Saturday's portrait sent a text message to cancel. There are still those wine bottles to photograph, that book to edit, those kids' pics that need sorting, and kids who need to be taken places and bought stuff, a dreadful dinner to go to. But that's for Saturday.
Right now, that glass of red wine is going down really, really well.