I am bereft. And spent. So this was my first five-day week at work since coming back from mat leave in December. LORDY. I am the human equivalent of a deflated balloon; prone on the party floor, covered in fag ash, a little bit of vomit and specks of glitter. Now all I want to do is flop onto the sofa and have my mind numbed by bad TV. Possibly whilst drooling on my own chin and necking wine like it’s juice. How do people do this every week?
It also feels so weird to not spend Friday with my little toddler buddy. Fridays were like all the best bits of mat leave condensed into one day per week. A shot of maternity leave or maternity leave lite. On the weekends every play area is teeming with 50 different versions of Conan the Rampaging Toddler. You take your life into your own hands if you venture into the ball pit. Who knows what is lurking in the depths? Definitely e-Coli. And lets not get started on watching 50 toddler-divas try and share one plastic rocking horse (because of course they all want the same one). Formal hostage negotiation skills are needed. On the weekend it’s Lord of the Flies. But on Fridays everywhere was empty. We frolicked round the soft play venues and parks of SW17 with gay abandon. It was nothing short of fabulous.
Going back to work five days a week has also prompted a hefty dose of mum guilt. As mothers we not only get to push our babies out of our vaginas, forever ravaging our bodies, we also get mum guilt, forever ravaging our minds. As you tiptoe the fine line between your needs and your child’s needs it can raise its head at any given moment. And putting Bella into nursery for five days has unleashed THE GUILT (Caps Lock required). My rational brain tells me that she is really happy there. In fact she cries when we come to pick her up now (which is dispiriting in a whole new way). My rational brain also knows that as nice as our flat is, we don’t have 20 different baby dolls (THANK GOD, TERRIFYING), a bubble machine, a host of dinosaur toys, or daily singing time (well technically I sing, but it could also be classified as inflicting ear torture). In the blue corner we have the rational brain, in the red corner we have mum guilt. And mum guilt wins every time.
I also now feel a pressure to make the weekends EXTRA SPECIAL, as we only get those two days with her. And that means not just sitting in front of the “TV babysitter” watching back-to-back episodes of Hey Duggie and Justin’s House. (Incidentally, Justin, AKA Mr Tumble, seems very asexual, like an aggressively cheerful Ken doll. I am positive that if I took his clothes off there would be a plastic mound where his man-bits should be). However, thinking about it, extra special is all relative these days. Bella is a cheap date at the moment. I am an exceptionally cheap date. So extra special can be nothing more than going to the playground and letting her go on the slide 500 times in a row. And then the swings. 500 times in a row. And then the roundabout. 500 times in a row. Whilst I watch on, taking the millionth video of swing-time, and devouring all her rice cakes (the apple ones are JUST delicious). So that’s where I will be every Saturday and Sunday from now on. It’s a done deal.