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I don’t know exactly what it is about our family, but there is a near crippling need to be useful. Now, of course, with our lot, the definition of the term useful is perhaps a bit looser than what is found in any good dictionary. Same goes for productive, but there you are.

Most of the time, useful around The Mom’s house means vaguely entertaining without making too much of a mess. The Pig, for reasons that are unclear, seems to have missed this last bit about the mess. And if you ask me, her judgement as to what is and is not entertaining is wavering to say the least. But never mind. She is part of the family and L’il Sis is keen for her to be helpful if not useful.

So when I’m at home, L’il Sis hastens to point out that The Pig is not in fact an extra set of chores for The Mom to sort out and take care of, rather that she is a good and steadfast companion, who is helping to keep The Mom company. Which is partly true, in a sense.

After I’d moved out, to shuffle my life back across the pond to England, The Mom was left with Poochie. And they carried on as they always had done, until Poochie’s tearful and untimely demise.Whereupon The Mom was left all by herself. Now, everyone else (save, I expect, The Mom and myself) sees this as a bit of a tragedy. To be left all alone mooching around one’s large house, punctuated only by phone calls at odd hours featuring demands that are both confusing and slightly panicky. The Mom, however, I feel rather enjoyed this new time in her life. The Era of Peace and Quiet. With nothing to do and nowhere to go and no one to look after – this had happened before, but even then it was brief. A mother’s job is, I am told, never done. L’il Sis may be suffering under the incorrect idea that The Mom is in need of entertainment. And sure, in the depths of winter, when she refuses to leave the house for days on end, even if she’s running low on chicken and rice and wine, I can see L’il Sis’ point. But these things can be delivered. And The Mom was, I’m certain, in the grips of the mid-winter malaise that all Canadians feel. February is not a good look for anyone.

When L’il Sis, The Pig and Crazy D moved home, they thought that all this company would be good for The Mom. What they failed to realise was that The Mom rather enjoys a bit of peace and quiet. Look, the thing is they are not writers and thus don’t understand the deep and satisfying pleasure of being able to wander around in one’s pjs talking to one’s self without anybody getting a bit judgy about the whole thing.

Anyhow, the point is, The Pig and her many needs that can be met only by The Mom are not considered jobs or work – officially. This is The Pig, and by extension, L’il Sis providing a valuable and much-needed service. They have seen a gap in the marketplace and filled it. They are being useful.Which is almost the same as working.

I myself have given up on being useful and am just trying to be as helpful as possible in the last few weeks at my current office workplace. It is in no way my fault that my helpfulness can only be construed as passive aggressively pointing out the many ways in which my office will be f*cked upon my departure. It is in no way to be considered that I am trying my level best to remind them they are losing a valuable employee. Because that would not be helpful.

And yes, once I’m done being as helpful as possible there, I will take a month off. This is so that I will have enough time to find a flat in a new city where I know zero people and also so that I will tire myself out, bore myself to tears trying to fill the days and be grateful for something to do when I rock up at my next place of employment.

Because not unlike The Pig, there is a bit of witchery-twitchery trickery involved in getting me into a workplace, by which I mean, everyone I know realises I am terribly unsuited to office work. But if left to my own devices long enough, like The Pig, I can at least try and look useful.