Where I used to work, lunchtimes didn’t really exist. There was an occasional downing of tools and natter about this, that and the other, but leaving the building was rare. And that’s not to say there wasn’t enough in the town centre if one wanted to pass an hour, particularly if one wanted a pastry based lunch. I did have to pass an Asda Superstore on my way home though, and that did get visits aplenty. They must have wept when I left the old place, their profits must have really nosedived. When I say I visits aplenty, let me expand by saying Daughter thought her name was George for some time.
But now I work in a town centre, and life outside the office is there to marvel at. Regular readers will have already heard of the lure of Marks & Spencer and other emporiums. I know this is a bit of a recurring theme (see Reverse Ambition in the archives), but I stare at this outside life agog, mentally like a child drooling in a sweetshop window. There are people shopping for fun, babies being wheeled about for fresh air, people stopping for coffee. My favourite drool is mums with sleeping babies having a well-earned latte, or even better, a hushed and hurried catch-up with friends. Maternity leave was my favourite ever time in the world, even though I was terrified of Daughter for most of it, but I loved those quiet times when I could just be for half an hour. And there’s that constant state of being against the clock, because she might wake up. Happy days.
I dedicate a little piece of lunchtime every day to thinking what I would do if I didn’t have to go to work. I must point out that this fantasy involves me earning (well I wouldn’t be earning I suppose, just getting) pretty much what I do now but not having to go to work. Of course I have ‘what I’d do if I didn’t have to go to work because I’m a millionaire’ moments as well, but they take a bit more thinking about.
So what would I do? Can I pretend I’ve got a bit more money and employ a cleaner? No? Pah. It’s my fantasy! Ok, so something like this…
Drop daughter off at school. Most mornings head straight to the gym or a class. Some mornings go for coffee with my fellow non-working chums. Beat the supermarket crush and serenely amble round the aisles one morning.
Home, to do some chores (which would no longer be a chore because I don’t have to squeeze them in at 10pm or waste Sundays roaring not to stand on my wet floor) and lunch. Maybe some volunteering at school after lunch some days. Not quite sure what I’d volunteer for, but at least I’m making the effort in my fantasy! Or the odd bit of retail therapy, maybe the odd pamper. Hanging out with the folks now and again. Catching up with chums, keeping up to speed with paperwork, being creative in the kitchen…the world would be my oyster. And then off to get Daughter from school, where we’d spend happy and light times together doing homework, getting crafty, playing games, you name it. Then Husband would get home and I’d be light and cheerful, and we’d all sit down to something healthy yet tasty (Daughter’s culinary horizons are clearly broader in my fantasy). And we’d have some lovely jolly family time before a stress-free bedtime, and then some quality time with Husband, not watching football but some quality TV. Who’s with me?
Or who fancies the real day instead? That goes something like this…
Ignore the alarm at 6.20am, then spend half an hour panicking about the time. Get ready, breakfast, get Daughter up. Be shouted at by Daughter who is TIRED! Help Daughter get ready, with every other sentence being ‘It’s getting late! Come here!’, peppered with ‘Concentrate!’ and ‘I’ve got to leave in ten minutes!’. Throw in the odd horn-locking about what colour tights Daughter is going to wear. Abandon Daughter to Peppa Pig, a brioche and a yoghurt in a tube (no brand favouritism here!) to go and put shoes on etc. Be asked five times not to leave without saying goodbye. Be body searched by Daughter for my bracelet with a dangling heart on it that I must press several times throughout the day to send love to her heart on the zip of her dress. Kiss Daughter (and Husband, lipstick colour notwithstanding), be asked if Daughter has got lipstick on and eventually get in the car. Then off to work, which is relatively samey at the moment, lunchtime drool, more work, home, make the tea, eat tea, fight the bath time battle and then the bed time battle on my turn. Do things like sort washing out, iron clothes, wash hair, make lunch, and if we’re lucky, actually sit down with Husband and not just pass in the hall as one of us goes to bed. I would imagine a pretty similar story from most parents, perhaps minus the heart bracelet! And for as much as I want to smash the alarm clock in every day, my kisses and squeezes and declarations of love from Daughter make the day ahead a better prospect.
But for now, I’ll keep doing the numbers and getting the plans ready just in case.