I have always found it mildly unsettling that Gill refers to her regular job as her ‘day job’ or her 9 to 5 employment. It is, I understand, a phrase common amongst artistic types. It is the druggery that pays for their true purpose in life, their artistic pursuits. It’s not that I don’t understand the distinction they are trying to draw. I do. It’s just that, as a mother, I take offense that anyone gets away with a job that ONLY goes 9 to 5.
Compared to Motherhood, it’s a drop in the bucket. Our hours are 24-7, for life! No time off for good behaviour, no time to use the bathroom alone (until the kids are in school), no cash reward, no bonuses, definitely no pension. But at the end, a mother will have the best collection of ‘modern’ artwork, the zaniest macaroni Christmas decorations imaginable, and the most heartfelt, ineptly written, glue-slathered, multi-media collages and gifts to fill her mantle.
Gill complains about the hassle of rising early, chugging down something that passes as breakfast, racing through the teaming masses in London to catch the bus or Tube (usually to find them shut down from a vague electrical issue), and having to sit at a desk all day. Then, at the end of the day, she does it all over again. Some days the work itself is interesting; others, it is like watching paint dry.
Well, I say, you’re getting off easy! You seem to have forgotten the number of cold, wintry mornings when I had to rise, throw my ratty fur coat on over my nightgown, drive through a blinding snowstorm to take you for swim practice…all without breakfast, makeup, shower, or any thought of personal humiliation (looking as disheveled as I did) if we were stopped by the police or involved in an accident. Now THAT, my dear, is sacrifice and hassle.
It IS true, however, that a mother’s life is always interesting. Why, she has to figure out how to out-manipulate the brains of her scheming offspring, invent plausible excuses as to why her darling child failed to hand in a recent assignment (things have moved way past ‘the dog ate my homework’), negotiate with other moms over which little devil started the fight, rescue teenagers from driving accidents, console them over romantic breakups (theirs, not hers), explain to tearful faces why the dog had to be put down, create nourishing yet attractive lunches for her hyper-allergic kids so they won’t end up in hospital with anaphylaxis…you see where I’m going with this. A mother’s life contains so many interesting (and yet stress-inducing) situations she’d often much rather be chained to a desk chair in a tiny, windowless cubicle.
As for dodging the hoards of people, any mother with more than one child is ALWAYS dodging a throng of kids…hers and their friends. Why, if she’s really lucky, the crowd will even gather around as she tries to use the bathroom…thus essentially turning her into the ‘funny lady at the circus’.
Unlike the ‘day job’ person, she cannot stash her cell phone or pretend she’s not there. When the call for help comes in the middle of the night, she’s up like a flash. After she has given birth to her first child, she will never sleep soundly again. She is on call, on duty for the rest of her life. She may even fear that, after her funeral, they’ll still be calling her for help. Now that’s a crushing thought. So, Gill, relish your 9 to 5 day job. It could be a lot worse!