Tomorrow I'm off on my now annual pilgrimage to Joburg. That great diverse urban behemoth to the north which lots of Capetonians like to feel superior to but I LOVE to visit.
Also home to my bestie and her adorable smalls whom I haven't seen since September and her equally adorable husband whom I haven't seen since last year.
And 5 cats.
All of whom together could not possibly produce as much poo as I've had to deal with this last week.
Not poo I'm responsible for anyways.
Last May I couldn't wait to get there, to escape my life and my trying small girl and the mundane humdrum of too long spent full-time parenting and a persistent cough I'd had for weeks.
Like pioneers of old I was keen to 'take the prairie air' for my consumption.
This May I'm racing to hit deadlines before I leave and popping vitamins and writing up lists for my au pair and feeling a little guilty about the Out of Office message I'm leaving in cyberspace to no doubt disgruntle the hordes of delegates who enjoy 'reaching out' to me on a daily basis to find out what the weather will be doing in Cape Town in June, or whether the hotel we've booked has humidifiers in all the rooms.
Seriously, 1st world problems are a real thing ...
Last May the surprising find after my 4 days in Johannesburg was how much my big girl missed me. I'd thought it would be Stella but in fact Frieda did some real pining.
This May it looks like it'll be the same.
Turns out my eldest, my independent self-sufficient and sunny child, still misses her Mummy. Bless.
Yesterday afternoon at 4:30, with a scant half an hour work time left in the day, I came out of my office for some reason and ended up romping on the lawn with both kids until the sun went down.
The emails called, but my heart called louder.
'We haven't done this for ages Mum,' says Frieda. 'These days you're always working or cooking supper.'
They've seemingly adapted so smoothly to the new normal. Au pair 3 times a week, Granny once and the rare Friday afternoon with me. Weekends are full of family time, mornings and evenings and stolen moments throughout the day when possible.
But as adults we tally up the time spent in hours or days and think it looks sufficient, considering the circumstances. For the smalls, used to big blocks of daily dedicated Mum time, just a couple of days without that becomes an age.
This time of intense work has taught me much about the challenge of the working parent, and while I have, and am, enjoyed the professional affirmation immensely, I'm really grateful I'm still doing this freelance, and really, really looking forward to a time of unstructured US.
It'll come again very soon.
But for now I need to stretch those heartstrings just a little further. This trip to Joburg is work and play, so I appease myself with that, and know without a doubt that a whole weekend with Dad is actually just what they all need. Junk food and You Tube and puppy-romping and Daddy Gym.
They'll have a ball.
As will I! See you on the flipside.