Saturday, 31 October 2009

biting my fingernails

Well, there's no going back now. Not only am I about to walk out of the office for the last time, my lovely (former) employer has just given me a generous chunk of newsprint to explain what I'm doing and why.
One thing I promise: this is the first and last time my photo will ever hit the front page of a national newspaper (today's Observer for the curious: the link's not live yet , but it will end up roughly here by tomorrow
Now cowering in anticipation of the response.....

Friday, 30 October 2009

on not doing business in the pub

This is my last week of having a Proper Job, and it's been manic to the last. Had a conference call at breakfast time with two other women, scheduled for before my nanny was due in. Solution: bribe small boy to be quiet with raisins, take call, cross fingers.
Thankfully just as we finished up the professional stuff, he set off a deafeningly loud toy fire engine. Both the others promptly confessed they were also at home and desperately keeping children quiet (one of them had silently changed a nappy while on the line and the other admitted she'd cleaned the kitchen worktop: "I was convinced you'd heard the spraying.")
Which made me think: firstly, video conferencing is not a good look for working mothers.
And secondly: women doing deals from the kitchen with small child underfoot will usually try to hide the fact they're not in the office in case people think it's unprofessional.
But doing deals worth millions in a lapdancing club full of half-naked women is accepted practice in the City. Ditto doing business over a two-bottle lunch, or in the pub: so long as you get the right results, absolutely fine. It couldn't possibly be that flexibility is more often applied to a classically blokey environment than to a commonly female one, could it?

Monday, 19 October 2009

On being a social liability

Have just gloomily read for the second time a letter to the weekend Telegraph, from a London lawyer who quit to be a fulltime mother: she complains of being ignored at dinner parties because people assume she will be dull. Agony uncle Graham Norton suggests helpfully that, they might be right: spending time with children "is bound to distance you from people" who are doing adult stuff.
Oh god, is this what's going to happen to me? I do remember the lovely peaceful vegetative state that was maternity leave: bliss, until one NCT coffee morning ended in a discussion of which brand of Jcloths we preferred. I was itching to go back to work after that.
Admittedly we hardly ever get invited to dinner parties any more (too many no-shows because I was working late, or we'd go and either my husband or I would end up pacing the garden, shouting down a mobile and chainsmoking over some work crisis or other). But at least we usually had some high octane gossip to share.
Now I can easily go 24 hours without reading a newspaper or listening to the news. It doesn't help that our TV's bust. I'm out of the loop: my horizons are shrinking in front of me.
The trouble with working the way I did is it distances you from your family. But in closing that gap, it's easy to be distanced from the rest of the world. Hmm.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

On not being pigeonholed

Went to the bank yesterday to sort out a new mortgage (ie, one based on about half our previous income). Explained I was giving up my old job and the woman asked me what I was doing instead. I chuntered on for a bit about, um, part time, er, freelance, er, consulting and after a bit she said kindly: "I'll just put homemaker, shall I?"
Was not aware that word still existed. But apparently I don't fit in any of the bank's other categories. Returned rather disconcerted to home I am now allegedly making.
When I had a fulltime job, our house was superficially tidy but unloved, with rampant disarray and/or squalor behind hastily closed cupboard doors. After a few days of my new homemaker regime, it looks like it has been burgled by rabid hyenas, with added washing-up.
The job description needs work, I feel.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

So this is a note to myself really, to re-read on the days I'm gnawing my own arm off with boredom and can't remember why I did it. Why I packed in a big, exciting, if rather crazed job for a life in the middle of nowhere and a so-called portfolio career (ie, not having a proper job).

These are the first ten reasons I can think of.

1. Because when I got my son measured for new shoes, I couldn't remember what size he wears.

2. Because I was so busy (away on a work trip, negotiating a tricky deal, while moving house) I forgot my husband's birthday.

3. Because when I filled out the form for my listing in Who's Who, I had bugger all to put in the non-work sections. I don't have time for, like, a life.

4. Because I am so tired of always being tired.

5. Because some things on my to-do list have been there since January, and I keep losing stuff, and there are no bloody curtains in the bathroom, and my ankle hurts because I sprained it (running in heels) and never had time for the exercises the GP gives you, and my houseplants always die. Small things. But they matter.

6. Because of the time I worked in a warzone and had to write weepy notes on what to do in the event of my death. I included a list of Christmas presents for various relatives, obviously the burning issue if I got blown up.

7. Because I can't keep telling friends I'll ring back at the weekend when I have time to talk. I never have time then either.

8. Because I worked 18 hour days when I was eight months pregnant, and still had to prove myself all over again when I got back.

9. Because I don't want my son to be an only child, and it's nearly too late.

10. Because I am no fun anymore, and there must be a better way.

So my mission for the next year is this: to get to know my family again, earn some money while not turning my brain to mush, and create an actual home rather than a house (one with, I dunno, photos. In albums). I also need a better description of myself than "well, I used to be...."

I'm typing this in the office at midnight. It's fair to say this is work in progress.