I peek through the window at the darkness outside. My body aches as I rise to greet another day. It feels as if I put my head on my pillow a few hours ago, yet here I am getting ready to greet another day.

It will be ok, I console myself. At the end of today, I will have more time to myself. My feet look swollen and my back aches but if I don’t hurry I will miss the taxi taking me to work.

Lord knows I need a break. It’s December and people are rushing around doing their Christmas shopping, spending the bonus they received on new clothes, smartphones, and furniture. Will I receive a bonus this year? Did I work hard enough to earn one?

The thoughts milling around in my head make it ache and as I hurriedly drink my tea, I wake my eldest child.
“Don’t forget to collect your sister’s report today,” I whisper to a still sleepy daughter.
For a moment I look at my 12-year-old and feel helpless that I am always away and she has to shoulder the responsibility of caring for her siblings.
“Remember, straight home after school. I left money for bread,” I remind her as I have done countless times.
“I have to go now, I love you, see you later,” I lie because Mrs Johns has asked me to do some extra work as she is having guests over.

Phew, I just made it in time for that taxi. For the next hour at least I can catch up on some sleep. Mrs Johns’s house is so far away from where I live but I need the work.

“Good morning, madam,” I say cheerfully. I don’t feel cheerful but I have to pretend because she may think I am ungrateful for the work.

“The ironing needs to be completed, Josh sprayed some ink on his bed so the bedding needs to be changed, don’t forget I have guests coming so the room needs to be cleaned and aired and oh! Yes before I forget, the dogs need exercise, so just take them for a quick walk around the park,” she rattles off as I stand there not having changed into the uniform she bought me.
As I move towards the kitchen, she says,” One more thing, I had some people over last night and didn’t pack the dishwasher so if you could do those dishes and tidy the kitchen before cleaning it would be great.”

“Yes, mam,” I reply. I enter the kitchen and my heart plummets.

How is it possible to have this much mess when I cleaned it so thoroughly yesterday? My hands are aching from scrubbing the kitchen. I can’t use gloves because it doesn’t feel clean and I can’t tell how hard I’m scrubbing.

As I undress my thoughts are with my eldest child. Did she get the little ones up in time? Did they eat the bread I left them? I worry about their safety but I have to work. I console myself and pray they are ok? I pray every day for my safety and the safety of my children. There are so many bad things happening to children out there.

But let me rush and clean the bedrooms before the children come home from school. “Teenagers are so untidy,” I think as I pick their clothes off the floor. I’m sad that those boys have changed so much since they were babies. They used to love me and cry when I went home. Now they don’t say please when they ask me for something and they leave such a mess in their rooms.

Last week, Henry shouted and told me, “You aren’t my mom, I don’t have to listen to you!” I was so hurt. I used to change that boy’s nappies. He said he was sorry but I am still upset. He should know better.

Finally, the bedrooms are clean, now for the toilets and bathrooms. Oh before I forget I have to hang the clothing on the line. The cleaning toilets are the worst for me. I don’t like doing it but I have no choice.

Its almost lunchtime, and I haven’t taken the dogs for a walk yet. If I take them to the park I could sit and have my lunch there. I don’t like dogs but I got used to these two. Oh yes, the dog poo needs to be picked up in the garden cause Mrs Johns is having guests around.

“Ooh, it stinks!” I need to scrub the patio. It’s dirty and full of dog hair. Let me vacuum it quickly before the boys get home.

My feet are aching and I still have to clean the kitchen again after the boy’s lunch.

I often dream about my own house, not the shack but one that has bricks and I wish I had a better job. This job is so tiring!

“I will do the dishes,” I hear Josh say. He is such a sweet boy. He is only twelve though and can’t clean it as I do. I hope he stays so sweet but Henry was also sweet at that age.

It’s almost home time I just have to tidy the lounge again. “I’ve done the food preparation you wanted Mrs.Johns,” I tell her. I have to call her before I leave every day.
“See you in the morning,” I call out to the boys.

I slip off my uniform and get back into my normal clothes. I’m late and if the queue at the taxi rank is long then I get home after 8. I’m tired but I have to keep going. My children may be asleep or at least the younger ones but work is scarce and they say you have to be grateful. So I’m holding on to my job as best as I can.

The sun is setting on the long ride home. I nod off and realize by the time I get to my stop it’s after 7h30 pm. I need to stop at the shop and get the children some sweets. I love them so much and wish I could do more but there is nothing.

My home is dark as I unlock the security gate. Both little ones are asleep and my big girl looks tired too.
“How was your day at school? Did you eat the food I left in the fridge? Did you do your homework?” I ask her. Rattling off questions to her to reassure me that they are ok. “Fine?” What is fine?” I ask her.
“I’m tired!” She sighs.
“Ok baby, tomorrow we can talk about it.” I kiss her goodnight and switch on the tv so I can watch my favourite soapie.

The news is on as I wake up from dozing off. I missed my favourite program. I need to boil some water so I can bath then it’s off to bed.
I can’t keep my eyes open much longer.

Tomorrow is Friday so I have the weekend to clean my house and be with the children.

There is very little that remains of the day for me to spend time doing what I enjoy or simply relaxing.