Hello Former Child-Free Full-time Employee Me,
You were burning the midnight oil last night, weren’t you?!! Was it 8.30pm you logged off? And you’ll still have to be back in before 8am tomorrow. You’ve got so much work to do! Busy busy. Goodness me, you work hard.
Well, you think you do.
Very soon burning the midnight oil will actually mean you’re working way past midnight. All night. And when it’s morning, you’ll be grateful to go to work-work. You know, the paid kind. Even after a long, exhausting night. Because it will be so much more peaceful there, and you’ll enjoy not having child snot on your trousers for a little while.
Paid work will become your ‘me’ time, although you’ll feel guilty the whole time you’re there; for not being with the children, for being rubbish, for having to leave on time, for having no extra time to do any more than you’ve contractually agreed because there are two little people that will need you more than anything in the world, for wanting to be there, for not wanting to be there. Everything, really.
You’ll be more tired than you thought possible. All the time.
It won’t get busy and then go back to normal. Busy will be normal.
And you won’t be sat in your twirly-whirly-gum-drop whizzy office chair tippy-typing away, drinking hot coffee and enjoying the luxury of complete, sensible thoughts when the pressure is on. You’ll be at home; running up and down the stairs, in and out the house or car, frantically searching for Calpol, the thermometer, or the absolutely essential cuddly-wuddly rabbit.
You’ll work harder than you’ve ever known, but you’ll only get paid half as much. For your main job, the crazy mummy one, you won’t get any money at all. You’ll be paid in hugs, screaming, tantrums and love. Quite a lot of anger and poo, too.
Your salary won’t get spent on last minute trips to Bali or Mexico or Thailand or a new pair of shoes. You’ll be spending it on well-budgeted trips to family-friendly resorts. Although in reality, you’ll spend most of it in Tesco. You may as well just sign your bank account over to them now. Oh, and fish fingers will be the new breaded Atlantic lemon sole goujons. Mealtimes are going to hit an unprecedented low.
Although on the upside, you won’t have a microsecond to give a shit about the absence of wanky goujons. You’ll be too busy slipping on baked bean juice and deciphering the demands of two tiny dictators.
I hope you’re enjoying your daily 7.30am lie-in. And isn’t it brilliant drying your hair before work?! I know. You think a 7.30am alarm is too early. And drying your hair is soooo boring and essential . But just for the record, former child-free full-time employee me: it’s really not.
You’re so fed up of the daily grind. So much work to do. You could do with a break.
I know, why don’t you have a baby, so you can have a rest? You know, work part-time so you can play and drink coffee in Costa and bake cakes? It would be so much easier…
You’ve actually had this thought. On more than one occasion. In the future, you’ll want to club yourself over the head for being so bloody stupid.
I’m sorry, former full-time child-free employee me, but you’ve got quite a bit to learn. But that’s OK. If we all knew what was coming, the human-species may have a bit of a problem. It’s going to get pretty crazy.
You’re soon going to realise that real stress isn’t a looming deadline, or a missed target. It’s much more than that. It’s something that’s going to require every emotion you don’t even know you have. It’ll make you laugh harder than you’ve ever laughed, and cry tired, frustrated, exhausted tears. You’ll get quite angry, too. And you’re going to get more familiar than you ever thought possible with with poo, sick, wee, mud, woodlice. Imaginary friends. Disney Princesses. The list goes on.
You’ll learn that real stress is your baby in a bad mood screaming at you from 4:30 in the morning until the next day. It’s your baby with a raging temperature, breaking your heart because you don’t know how to make him better. It’s your unpredictable toddler who decides they really need a wee when you’ve got a trolley full of shopping and you’re next in the mile long queue.
You’ve always had a sound perspective on what’s important, that’s true. But it’s about to get a whole lot, well, sounder.
It will make you.
And you will love more than you ever thought possible.