Flexibility in planning is probably a major protective factor against nervous breakdowns. To accept the fact that you never really know what you will find when the alarm clock rings is a good start.
So I was going to attend a conference where THE HERO of public health, Sir Michael Marmot, was going to give a talk. I was adamant to see him and get my well-deserved dose of inspiration. The conference was set to start at 10 and at 10.40 he would begin to speak in Southern Stockholm. To get there I needed 1 hour and 12 minutes, according to the GPS function on my phone.
6.45. The alarm clock rings – one of three children down. Aspirin, tea, a quick clinical assessment (sorry, but in that order) and she is found to be excused from school and to be observed closely to see whether she will qualify for staying home alone or in need of surveillance.
7.30. A knock on the door. The electrician! Shit. Pretty in my bathrobe, unwashed, and uncombed I answer the door and start by saying that we said 8 o’clock, not 7.30. They look puzzled and I remind myself that fix-people are good at fixing things, not at keeping time.
8.01 I cycle Joel to school.
8.05 We realise that we forgot his PE stuff. Shit! I’ll get it to him later.
8.10 The electricians have identified the problem – no, they are not switching off the electricity while I am trying to apply some make-up, but they need to go and get some parts at the shop. Why do they always do that? And why do I always have to pay for their having to do so?!
8.15 Reassessment of the ill daughter yields the result that she can stay at home alone with the back-up of our savour – Antónia. I am convinced she is quite fine when she quickly hides the I-Pad as I enter the room.
8.30 One of my PhD student’s thesis is going to the publisher at 10 o’clock so I decide to have a last look through it. I eat my breakfast standing by the computer and go through the pages.
9.00 I don’t know if I should be happy or panic when I find a couple of spelling and other errors. I decide to be happy, an error less is always a bonus.
9.07 …Which I tell her when she calls and asks if she can send in the thesis. I tell her to check the abstract and acknowledgements an extra time – that’s what 98% of people will read anyway.
9.08. The electricians are back, they have questions. I realise that I will miss the start of the conference.
9.15 New assessment of the ill daughter: is it really ok to leave an ill child alone to get to a conference where I am not a speaker?
9.30 Almost on my way, almost. Will miss the first talk of the conference. Just need to fix…
9.45 I drop the PE stuff at the school and leave Uppsala at 9.46. Due to a little planning and probably some miracle, I don’t get lost.
10.54 There he is, Sir Michael Marmot! We is witty, wise, and convincing. He talks about the importance of a universal approach and I love hearing that the base for all future equity in health and a dignified life is investing in the early years, through e.g. high quality preschools. He says a lot of what I know, but it is news to me that inequity if unequally disadvantageous for lower social groups between countries. Usually what we think is that inequities are equally disadvantageous for all groups in comparison, but he shows graphs that the worse off are so much worse off if there is inequity within a country compared to other countries with less inequities.
When the talk on work-life balance is on, my mobile rings. My other daughter reports that she is not well and is heading home from school. What I don’t see on the list of political solutions to enhancing work-life balance is this: every family should be entitled to an Antónia, a wonderful and trusted person who is where you can’t be, when needed. I might just work on installing that: Lex Antónia.