Tuesday, 16 March 2010
All in a day's work?
I'm on month eleven of my twelve month maternity leave. It's natural to look back and evaluate what I have done during this halcyon work-free period. By work, I of course mean employment for which I have to attend a place of work and perform a function for which I am paid. Not of course, work-free in the sense of having kicked back and relaxed. As anyone who has been on maternity leave will know, specifically the leave spent with the second, third, fourth, whatever child will know it involves working like the proverbial dog. Although I have to go off on a tangent again here and point out that my two dogs, my pug dogs, Mickey and Arthur, are so far removed from the concept of 'working' or doing anything other than sitting on their portly fawn furry behinds and snoozing or engaging in an activity that will result in filling their flat faces with food of some description (kibble, rabbit droppings, chicken food, plastic dinosaurs et al) that, well, no words exist to describe this distance.
So, yes there's work and work. When I sat at my desk in the final few months, weeks and days prior to my departure I dreamt of sleep. Dreamy, luxurious, moments lying on the couch with said pugs, bathed in sunlight drifting off and being engulfed in soporiferous activity. (So much of my last days at work were spent snoozing in a toilet cubicle so savaged was I with crushing fatigue). I dreamt of idling away my time in coffee bars with a vat of cappuccino and a good book while my new bundle of joy dozed and my eldest ran off his madness at pre-school. I dreamt of happy times at play areas, playgrounds, friends houses being all mumsy and worthy and doing what one does on maternity leave and what one feels guilty for being unable to do when at work. It's not quite worked out like that.
I have slept at any and every possible available opportunity, but sadly the accumulation of human sleep doesn't work in the same way that a camel can stock up on water in its humps; as soon as I'm back at work I'm quite sure the toilet cubicle scenario will be revisited. Sounds sordid and exciting doesn't it? Sadly not. So what have I spent my maternity leave doing? Most days I haven't left the house save for a short, chaotic dog walk or collecting the eldest from pre-school. In short: housework. Hoovering, often twice a day. Taking the hoover to pieces to unwind the lost hair from my post pregnancy moult from its innards to ensure its efficiency. Ironing, dear god have I ironed. And I've baked a bit; cupcakes and gingerbread men mainly. I've run. Latterly I have been able to employ my Mother's time to look after the baby while I have forced myself out in sub zero temperatures to run in order to shed nasty baby weight gain. And, well that's about it. Somehow, a twelve month period has hoovered, ironed, run and baked itself in to non existence. I could pontificate on how time just flows away from you faster and faster the older you get, like a fast flowing stream with the years giving way to scum, and froth and debris collecting on the surface; but I won't. We all know that. Actually, I don't mind at all, because this is what it is like to be a Mum, and just to be afforded the chance to do that, and nothing else, even for just one year, away from the trappings of 'real work', tastes very sweet indeed. A bit like my latest batch of cupcakes.