I’ve gone back to work.
My six glorious months of maternity leave have come to an end.
As have the precious holidays I saved up when I was knocked up.
I have joined the ranks of working mums.
And it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and I’ve snorted parmesan.
In the latter stages of my pregnancy, as several months of baby nuzzling stretched out before me, six months seemed like an eternity.
The longest I’d managed to shirk work for previously was a five month honeymoon in India. But that culminated in the hubbie taking a sample of my frothing faeces (or ‘crapuccino’ as we liked to call it at the time) to the local hospital on Christmas Day, and so it definitely doesn’t count.
I had all manner or highfaluting ideas of just what I could achieve in my time off.
I’d set up my own company and live off a passive income! I’d invent the latest must-have baby accessory and rake it in from eBay sales!
In reality the only thing I’ve set up is a direct debit, and the only thing I’ve invented is the word ‘defeceating’.
Vb. Def-uh-ceat-ing: the act of consuming food whilst shitting it out at the same time – as perfected by babies and worms.
Oh, and obviously I’ve had a pretty lovely time of raising the boy, but I’m only getting paid £0.81p an hour to do that, so something had to give…
The plan had been to put the boy into nursery, but I started having second thoughts.
I have nothing against nurseries. Just as I have nothing against those foot spas where fish nibble at your bunions, I just don’t want to put my kid in one all day.
Not yet, at least.
He’s still so small. He can only just sit up unaided. He thinks my dirty socks are one of his five a day. And he’s definitely not ready to fathom the finer plot points of In The Night Garden on his own.
I turn to Excel. I work those household expense spreadsheets like a top class number whore, looking for ways we can cut our costs and slash our spending.
The trouble is, we’re already quite thrifty. We’ve pretty much begged, borrowed or built anything you’ll find in our teeny tiny house. Even the butter we’re eating at the moment is second hand. And out of date. But waste not, want not.
“I could look after him,” offers the husband.
I laugh. Ha! Haha! Hahaha! Hahahahaha! That’s funny. This is a man who’s only just learned how my g-strings need to be folded. There’s NO WAY he’ll be able to maintain my exacting standards of childcare and house husbandry.
But he’s serious.
And financially it makes sense.
So despite my rampant jealousy that I may not be the first parent in this relationship to see our child reach his milestones, and my misgivings that his favourite song will soon be the theme tune to ‘Pointless’, I concede. It is, after all, for the best.
The paternity leave request is put to the boss.
The response is akin to how you imagine Hitler reacted when he first discovered there was a song doing the rounds about him only having one ball.
But it’s granted.
And before you can say ‘but it’s not fair’, me and the hubby are into our two-week handover period.
And it turns out he’s a natural. Far more organised than I ever was.
Within 48 hours of being in charge, the boob has been banished and he has the boy napping for longer, eating three solid meals a day, sleeping right through the night and reciting the works of Seneca. In Latin.
Meanwhile I face my return to work with all the enthusiasm of a death row inmate facing the chair.
I’m resigned to my fate, but can’t help but pray for some kind of lasting global power failure in which the whole world gets sent home for the rest of their lives.
But return I must, and return I do.
And it’s bloody hard.
My son has been my constant companion for over 16 months, if you include womb time. He’s my wingman. My sidekick. Batman to my Robin.
He gave me superpowers. Like the ability to squirt milk out of my boobs for distances of up to two metres. To be able to walk into a friend’s house and see danger lurking everywhere. Hell, once we even saved a cat from being run over. Albeit by emergency-stopping the car I was driving after being distracted by some horseshit that looked like Jesus.
And now I’m on my own. In meetings. With adults. Talking about MARKETING.
Saying things like ‘with regards to’ and ‘how can we drive trial’ and ‘let’s stir-fry some ideas in the wok of creativity and see if we can come up with a few tasty morsels’.
It’s not that I hate my job. Far from it. It’s as enjoyable a way as any to sustain the no-frills lifestyle to which I’ve grown accustomed.
But let’s face it, if marketing disappeared tomorrow, who would really miss this silly industry to which I have committed my limited resources?
I mean, what is marketing anyway? Just a way to make people buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in the hope of happiness that doesn’t materialise.
No-one ever lay on their deathbed and thought ‘I wish I’d bought more pencils or collected those tokens for that Tetley tea towel with Sidney on it.’