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?
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.
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.