Dear People Who Work Away From Home,

I know you sit there at your desk tip-tapping at your computer feeling accomplished in ALL the productive work, you have managed to squeeze in BEFORE your lunch break. Your hair smells lovely. Your coffee is hot and fresh. Your desk is ordered.

I write this as the toddler smears dribbled biscuit onto my iPad, my hair smells like baby-sick, my coffee is cold and has a wrinkly skin floating on the surface – I’m certain; I’ll get radiation poisoning if I re-heat it for the 11th time.
I bet when you walk to the bathroom – you don’t have a toddler wrapped around your leg who’s snot is leaving silvery snail trails down your calf. I am sure you sit in the mediative stillness of the cubicle pondering what you will have for lunch, maybe plan your witty response to a colleague’s email about the boss, or think about the novel you are reading on your commute.

I use the bathroom as a trio – one offspring on my lap, the other talking to me whilst standing no more than an inch away. I eat half chewed leftovers shoved in my mouth whilst washing the plates. My witty responses are saved up for the cold callers on the phone – but half the time it’s only a computer and the rest of the time the humour is lost in the culture divide.
The last novel I read was Twilight……..
When you speak on the phone you can listen, absorb the information and remember what was said. When I am on the phone – the kids leap out from nowhere like screaming kamikaze ninjas leaving me confused and unable to even remember who I just spoke to – let alone what was just said.

I fear, I may have early onset Dementia. When I walk into the kitchen carrying a basket of dirty laundry, the washing machine is in front of me WITH it’s door open and I STILL have to turn around and retrace my steps – in order to remember why the HELL I entered the room in the first place. When I need to fill in a form, I have to ask not only the day BUT what month it is. There are days I forget to shower, brush my teeth or hair and get out of my P.J’s.

I even forgot to feed my three year old during my 40th Birthday BBQ. I’d forgotten to feed myself too for that matter, but with all the bubbly flowing, the lack of food in my stomach only enhanced my buzz. My mum spent all the following day, trying to convince me, that A. I am NOT a terrible mother and B. My daughter would’ve eaten the sweets from the piñata anyway. In an attempt to console me further, mum reminded me of the MANY times her and dad would leave us in the car parked outside the pub with the windows cracked, a packet of crisps and a can of coke each. Whilst they got pissed and drove the precarious country roads home.
Before you start calling the Social Services on my behalf – I am from a time and place where this was pretty much the norm. We were not the only kids locked in cars like the cocker spaniel. There would’ve been at least half a dozen other car-loads of children high on caffeine and sugar with their little faces pressed up against the windows, tongues hanging out in 30 degree heat. In fact, things like sending your five year old out alone to purchase a packet of fags and as much beer as they could fit into their Mickey Mouse backpack was perfectly fine too. But I digress….

I used to be a Nanny and after having my own children. I started out treating my home like my work place and began doing all those little anal-micro-managing things my employers LOVED me doing for them. However, it seems my own children did not fully embrace nor appreciate having their dinosaur collection alphabetised. They would put the Allosaurus back where the Zephyrosaurus belonged and what seemed like a good way to spend an hour to put right in paid employment – became a massive chore at home for free. So needless to say I just shut the door on the various tangle of messes found in each room. The kids and I are basically living, eating and sleeping on the upstairs landing now – but it’s all about that vital quality time together.

I am reminded of a high powered employer of mine who developed M.E and had to give up work in banking. She hand a Nanny and a Maternity Nurse and she still felt the need to run her home like she ran her career. It was a nightmare place to work. In the mornings, the children didn’t know if they should clock in or cuddle her, she would schedule in “Mummy-Time” with her three month old. She would inspect the children’s freshly ironed clothes for creases. Near the end of my extremely brief employment, I found myself (the ultimate professional) ironing creases IN just to infuriate her. And to think I was headhunted by Madonna – and turned her down no less!

So because I used to be a Nanny. You may ask yourselves “What’s the problem?” Firstly, my employers had housekeepers, it wasn’t my job to clean – so no child in my (professional) care ever chewed on the toilet brush, or got inexplicably tangled in the vacuum cord, or had Mr Sheen squirted in their ear. Whilst working an average of ONLY 60 hours a week, I was getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night – I also had weekends off to do WHATEVER I wanted AND sometimes that was only moving from the sofa to pee and answer the door to the pizza guy.
Finally and more importantly, they weren’t my kids, so I didn’t have the emotional turmoil of wondering if EVERY tiny little thing I did, was gonna fuck them up and they’d end up boiling their neighbour’s head in a slow cooker or worse go on Britain’s Got Talent with their own Mother as their sob story.

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