For The Love Of Cher, What Have I Done?


So, Thursday is IT. The big day. This week, after almost 4 years of being a stay at home mum, I am going back to work. Like, WORK work. In exchange for money, in an office, with a commute and an expectation to produce stuff other than Play-Doh-dog-poo and four-letter words with the alphabetti-spaghetti. And you know, it’s a good job I’m naturally such a laid-back, whatever-will-be-will-be, kind of person, otherwise I’d be totally crapping it right now.

Alright. I’m totally crapping it right now.

Anyway, in honour of my angst and all-round obsessive, anxious nature, and to explain the mad-ass run of emotions having a house party in my head, I’ve created a little pie chart. Would you like to see it? Would you? No. WAIT. Don’t make that snoring sound. See it. It’s got colours and everything. Go on, give the pie chart a chance…

For The Love Of Cher, What Have I Done?

Firstly, can I point out that the Cher to whom I refer is Cher-Cher. The Cher. The one who straddles cannons in her knickers and once closed a show by riding on stage atop a life-size papier mache elephant. Not X Factor boo-hoo-er and jagger of the swagger, Cher Lloyd.

Secondly, as the big slab of red pie suggests, What Have I Done is definitely my overriding emotion. A real sense of what the FREAK am I thinking? It’s a lovely little combo of worry, fear and confidence issues, all of which join forces and like nothing more than to wake me up at 3am, asking me a gazillion different questions. Will the kids be ok? Can you manage the commute? What about the work? It has been FOUR YEARS Abby, can you do it? Do you think maybe your employers made a mistake? Hey? Do you? Do you? Oi Abby, take the pillow off your head, WE’RE TALKING TO YOU.

The kid stuff, I try to reassure myself by thinking of the pros. The weekends that will be more fun because I’m not so stressed or frustrated or plain depressed. That their dad will be spending more time with them. That I will still get to see them every night and that the time I am with them, I will appreciate more. And hopefully, that they will appreciate me a bit more because right now, as things stand, the days we are spending together are getting increasingly stressful for all of us. Is it bad to say that? I think it might be. I just find it hard to hide my emotions and when those emotions revolve around me being so bloody bored and miserable, the kids respond by getting equally pissed-off. We need this time apart so that the periods we do have together are more fulfilling and enjoyable. I’m aware this all probably sounds quite mean and selfish and completely un-maternal but all of the above is not meant to suggest I won’t miss them, because I will, a lot, and that’s another corner from which a worry creeps.

Then there is the work itself. For anyone who ever had any long-lasting doubts as to the validity of their achievements, you need to read about Imposter Syndrome because it seems it could be an actual bloody condition. Right, I know this sounds a bit bollocky but a friend put me on to it and reading the details made me go all shivery with recognition:

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalise their accomplishments….despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others”

Seriously, Wikipedia may as well have just put a photo of me with this piece (a nice Instagram one. With a sepia tint and red-eye reduction) because this is how I feel EVERY SHITTING DAY. That I’m going to be found out. That people have got me wrong. That any praise I get is because people feel sorry for me. That any success is a fluke. Yada-yada-does-this-make-me-mental-are-you-backing-away-slowly-making-excuses-about-having-left-the-oven-on-just-so-you-can-escape? So yeah, another worry is that I’m going to go to work, get in a meeting and the only impact I’m going to make to my new colleagues is that of a mis-hired, bungling goon. My writing? They’ll think it’s shit. My ideas? Laughable. You know that time Alan Partridge pitched his ideas of Inner-City Sumo, Cooking In Prison and Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank to the guy from the BBC? That’s how I imagine my first day will be. Me clamorouring for good, witty, intelligent ideas and instead shouting out a load of random words.

You know what, I’m even getting on my own nerves now. Let’s move on to the next one.

What To Wear

Moving seemlessly from borderline emotional disorders to clothes. A bit like the time I was on LK Today and they preceded an ‘in-depth’ talk about body issues with Kool and The Gang miming Celebration. Or like when Pip Schofield interviews a domestic abuse victim on This Morning then moves swiftly on to a feature about swiss rolls. I’m digressing. Anyway, you know, for anyone starting a new job, officewear is an important matter. And of course, an always-welcome excuse to go shopping. So yesterday, that’s what I did. What you need to know is that I’m re-entering the world of telly. A realm that, from what I remember, is populated by people who look like T4 presenters. Boys who look like younger, less drug-ravaged Pete Dochertys and girls who rock the dress-down look in a way I never could. Their version of festival chic channels the likes of Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller and Kate Moss. Mine takes inspiration from Charlie Dimmock and Mr Bloom. Yep, if memory serves right, my colleagues are going to be a good decade younger than me and at least 3 stone lighter (probably following a tapeworm they picked up whilst travelling around India over Christmas) and was with this notion in mind that I hit the high street. Thankfully, the one thing my age-cultivated wisdom told me was that while the high street offers a treasure trest of fashion wonder, it also tells lies. Yesterday, the fibbing little shitbag tried to convince me that the Kat-Slater-does-Hammertime look was very much the one for me. It wasn’t. Nor were the Little-Mix-esque patterned leggings or the sequinned knickers. Ha to you, high street, HA. I may be emotionally wonky but I’m not blind. Instead of all of the above (and a whole lot more - neon bandage dresses? is that a wind-up?) I took my chances and purchased an AMAZING pair of coloured jeans and badass top to match. Something a little bit different from what I’ve been wearing the past 4 years (bobbly leggings and a hoodie) will surely help get my worky, creative juices going?

Not a joke. Not part of a Mel B fancy dress pack. Actual clothes.

Ooh, Lunch

This could easily have been titled Ooh, Pret. I love Pret. I love food. I love lunch. I also love choice and where I live now, in the middle of nowhere, you’re lucky to find much else in the way of takeaway food outside the culinary confines of a ham roll. Dairylea Lunchables have to be shipped in from the north round our way. A pasta salad? Are you out of your mind? Um. Anywaaaay, the promise of almost unlimited lunch options in lovely London town where I will mostly be based is something that cheers me right up. Add into that the factor of being able to eat said lunch in peace with nobody asking me to wipe their arse or put Jim, Jam and Sunny on the fucking ipad for the fifteenth fucking time that day is a veritable dream. I’m sorry for saying fucking so much in that last sentence, it’s just I’ve seen Jim, Jam and Sunny do their wigglewigglewiggle dance 876 times and the resulting emotional paralysis has affected the bit of my brain that stops me using the F word.

Giddy Excitement

While the worry and the panic does take precedence in my little ginger head, the excitement does very much come a close second. I’m thrilled to be going back to work for a company that I genuinely admire, with people I know will inspire me and in a role that I would have never in a million years expected to be in when I was fresh out of uni and wondering what the mothership to do with my life. I am excited about using my brain. About earning money. About feeling worthwhile rather than worthless (my own failing-as-a-mum issues, not how I think ANY stay at home mother should feel, EVER) and about taking this next step in my life – a life that, while full of achivements in the sense of ‘I made two people and kept them alive’, has kind of felt on hold the past few years. My children will always, absolutely take priority – always – but the idea of devoting a bit of time now to the woman I used to be is the biggest thrill of all. I just hope she’s still around. I hope she has waited for me.

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17 thoughts on “For The Love Of Cher, What Have I Done?

  1. Zoe says:

    Good luck! I am a SAHM mum at the moment and I think I’ll be feeling all of the above whenever I go back to work. I love your honesty.

  2. The kids – happy mum = happy kids
    Impostor syndrome – right there with you, like reading a slice of my mind
    Clothes – v. envious you had a legit reason to go out and buy some new ones. I don’t (yet)
    Lunch – Pret, Leon, Starbucks coffee, Japanese Canteen, Itsu, oh gosh how I miss working lunch food
    Ginger head – snap! Who knew.

    I am only two years into SAHM life, I want to be a SAHM and I will continue to be whilst I think my daughter really needs me, but one day, one day… so I shall be checking back for progress reports, so I can live vicariously through you. Please do include lunch updates. Oh and good luck!

  3. 1. How did you make that pie chart? I want one. 2. I love Alan Partridge. 3. Best of luck for this Thursday – you’ll rock. 4. Looking forward to postings about media 20 something wannabies. 5. I think its absolutely okay to feel bored and miserable at home and have to want something, anything, to call your own other than being a mum which has the effect of totally eclipsing your identity – I speak for my self there too.

  4. This is hilarious! The very best of luck to you. You will be fine. I went back to work in between child number 2 and 3 for a couple of years. The best time of my life. Actual lunch breaks, after work drinks, a lovely wardrobe (coloured jeans a winner by the way), adult conversation and money in my pocket.

    I love the bit about impostor syndrome, though judging from your excellent writing I doubt you’ll be found out as a fraud. I have to say on my first day at a new job, it took me five minutes to figure out which way the macbook opened when it was handed to me. I felt just like that woman from the IT crowd.

    Here’s to a fulfilling life away from home! And believe me, bedtimes and weekends will be so much sweeter. x

  5. Aprille says:

    Well done, Abby and good luck! Only the beginning will feel shaky – a few days in and one drunken night out and you’ll feel just fine. Your very talented, mi dear, and I hope you will keep your blog going – I really look forward to reading it. Your frankness is refreshing and something that all mothers can learn from. I feel we do us women a disservice with our polite and appropriate bullshit and a little honestly is key for our sanity in this crazy world of motherhood. So, thank you. x

  6. Rachel says:

    Love it! I’m sure you’ll be great.

  7. Word, Aprille – you took the words right out of my mouth.

    You’ll love it, Abby and they’ll love you. Remember that you have not lost any of your talent or ability in the past 4 years and they are lucky to have you. The only person doubting you will be you…and you know how much turd Captain Paranoia can talk! You will be brilliant and you will be happy.

    X

  8. Emma says:

    Yeeehaaa!! Go for it Abbster- do it for all of us SAHMs here. There’ll be great days and shit days but never ever doubt your talent cos you’ve got it in spades. ( I would love to think that I could make money from anything I’d written but as I’m a SAHM to five children, and only a fledgling blogger that’s pretty much wishful thinking) I look forward to reading your expoloits. Good luck babexxx

  9. Heehee… Yeah, been there…I am still the imposter waiting to be found out…
    I’ve got 5 wains. (due to the insane me not giving a flying fart about preventing the tadpoles getting to the target (do you see what having 5 and talking in baby speak does to a woman’s mind???) and being too lazy to force dada to go get the prophylactics…).
    The sane me is a full-time lawyer. And has been most of all the time.
    The wains are nice of course. But – come on! – do they really beat Pret? and new jeans? and pretending you’re an adult? and not having to pick food from your hoodie and bobbly leggings??
    (and before you all complain I am an unfit mum – I specialise in Child Protection, so I know, I know…)
    Enjoy it. And don’t kid yourself that you’ll be unstressed at the weekends – it’ll just be a different source of stress….

  10. northernmum says:

    And breathe….

    Now repeat after me….

    You will be fine
    The kids will be fine

    Enjoy every second x

  11. ReenaRibena says:

    I wonder how long it’ll be before we get you in to some leopard print skinny jeans?

  12. LOVE this post! Have been alternately dying with laughter and nodding. I completely have imposter syndrome… although I think I’ve always felt that way about work.

  13. So have your started back now? I love working part-time, it makes such a difference to be me sometimes and nto just Mum!

    Enjoy, Mich x

  14. Imposter syndrome – check.
    Guilt about feeling some days I would rather be at work – check
    Not feeling bad about said guilt – check
    Kicking myself when I see an advert for a decent job I could do with my eyes closed yet being overwhelmed by the feeling that I SHOULD be at home even though it drives me crackers – check

    I’m wishing you the very best of luck for Thursday. I am exceedingly jealous, especially about the grown-up lunches, and the leopard print pants.

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