I have always wondered what it would be like not to work. I have literally not stopped since university. I never had maternity leave (I was making calls from my hospital bed) and although I worked from home for a long time in France, I had at least three jobs at any given time.
The first thing I have noticed is how quickly the days go now. I thought I would have so much time and instead I seem to have almost less. Never again will I look askance at mothers who don’t work and secretly think they should get on with something useful rather than grumbling about their husbands. When you don’t work, there is a world of stuff to keep you busy. I was “let go” over three weeks ago, that’s almost my entire annual holiday, and I haven’t even noticed it go.
Lunch, for example, keeps me busy. This week I have truly been a lady who lunches, with lunches every day. Tomorrow I have one that is work related (more on that if it comes to anything), but thus far I have been lunching with other ladies who lunch. It’s been a bit of a learning curve. First of all I had no idea lunch has to start early so that said ladies can get to school on time to pick up their children. So far since my release I have managed the school run a total of four times. I kid you not. I have been too busy doing other things to do the one thing a non-working mother should do. Happily Stanley has been on hand to collect them from school.
Of course once the kids are home there is no possibility of achieving anything much. The girls are revising for exams, then there are activities, piano practice and before you know it, it’s apero time.
And I haven’t even started on looking after the husband. This of course is now my main aim. No admin chore is too large, no trip downstairs to get a cup of tea too onerous. Seriously though, there has been an imperceptible shift. Basically anything to do with the kids or the household is my responsibility. At first I was slightly irritated, but it’s fair enough really. If one person earns all the money, the other one should look after things at home. One thing I used to loathe about non-working mothers was how they would make their working/commuting/stressed-out husbands take on as much at home as they did.
I feel a little bit like a perfect wife in Mad Men, a sort of ideal woman from another era, calmly running my household and making sure everyone in it is happy, well fed and well rested. To be honest, it’s not a bad job. And I do at least get on well with my bosses. Although I can see how it could turn one into a Stepford wife after a few months.
But, my 1950s alter ego might argue, what’s wrong with that….?
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012