My husband and I used to moan about doing the dishes. That was our only job at the end of the day. We would have a big clean each weekend, but in the week, we would just have to wash up after dinner, and we had the audacity to moan about it.
To be fair, my husband still moans about having to ‘do the baby bottles’. It is one of a multitude of jobs he has. It’s just the most important one; the one he 100% must do. So, he hates it.
If I could flash back to 2017, I would stand in my kitchen, look at the dirty dishes and shout “NOT A PROBLEM, MATE.” I’d turn up some tunes, have a groove and wash the hell out of those dishes. After washing up – I’d do whatever I wanted.
Now… oh now… Now, I am continuously washing up. I don’t understand it. There is a constant stream of filthy plates, bowls, highchair trays, cutlery, cups, lunch boxes, pots, pans, THE BLOODY CHEESE GRATER, and it is never ending. When I leave the washing up until the end of the day, it looks like the kitchen at the end of the lunch shift at Weatherspoon’s. If I had unlimited money and didn’t care about the environment, I would bin it all and buy new stuff… every day. And then of course, once the dishes are done, I don’t get to do whatever I want. I have to hoover the pasta and cheese bits off the floor, tidy away the million brightly coloured, plastic toys, look at the pile of clothes and cry, put all the cushions back on the sofa, blah blah blah. Jobs jobs jobs.
My favourite comedian, James Acaster, does this bit about ‘No More Jobs’ and it got me good:
“You get in bed, you turn off the light and then you shout, “No more jobs,” then you go to sleep… Then you wake up in the morning, then it’s jobs again, and then no more jobs, and then jobs again – isn’t that just your whole life? There’s no more jobs and jobs on a constant loop.” James Acaster, Repertoire 2018.
I bought my husband a bed tshirt that says ‘no more jobs’ on it, even though, we both know, that bedtime is filled with jobs. So many jobs. One day when the lads sleep through without waking up, we will feel that sweet relief of no more jobs, but not yet… not yet.
My best friend went on holiday recently and she gave me the best gift anyone could give me right now. She gave me the keys to her flat. She said, ‘I want you to book a night off and come and stay here on your own. I want you to write, eat, watch TV and sleep.’
Whaaaaaaat?! Stop it. Seriously?
My husband was unbelievably jealous, but also, made up for me too. He was very happy to take one for the team and take on all the jobs for one night. And I had my sweet night alone.
It was a little snippet of a life, pre-kids. My best friend’s place was spotless, everything had its place, and everything was in its place. I walked around and didn’t stand on anything gross or sharp and plastic. I watched TV without anthropomorphism (I did Google this big word – I could tell you what it means, but I want you to Google it too). I had a long, very hot shower alone. I thought about getting a takeaway, but I was feeling so good that I didn’t want to feel post-takeaway-blues, so I cooked a healthy dinner and washed up… NO PROBLEM, MATE. There were no tantrums, nappy changes, potty visits, milk prep, bum wipes, bargaining arguments, screaming fits, snotty noses, outfit changes, tidy up times, bedtime routines, night feeds… not for me anyway. Thank you, husband.
I wrote, I read, I went to bed. I said, very quietly to myself, “no more jobs,” and then fell asleep.
I know what you’re thinking…. But you missed your kids, right?
I did, but they were in safe hands, so I didn’t have to worry about anything. I missed them in the most wonderful way. I enjoyed missing them and got very excited to see them in the morning. I wanted to really enjoy my gift of time and space without feeling guilty. I had no reason to feel guilty. I spend all day every day with those beautiful boys, and I needed some leave. Being with their dad is pretty much the same as being with me, except the games are slightly different, so they barely noticed I was gone. My husband noticed, of course. But I returned the next day full of beans, eager to take on the jobs (well, not eager) and ready for another hundred days of 24/7 mumming.
One day I’ll miss the loop of jobs, the evidence of fun had… all over the living room, the filthy highchairs, the potty chats, the night feeds, and the story books and kisses before bed. I will not miss the washing up, because I’m not insane, but the rest of it may be reminisced fondly.
You might need a break. Not just from the relentless jobs, but also from everyday life. A little time away can give you time to breathe, time to check in with yourself, and time to miss your every day. I am so lucky to have a beautiful, full life, and to have the chance to take a step back to see it for myself was just what I needed. If you have good people who love you and are offering you some respite, please take it. It may be just what you need.