5am and you’re up, Monday to Friday, not through complete choice. No, just to get a cup of tea in peace. ‘Peace’, of course means whilst feeding the cats and rubbing the dog’s tummy (the dog they all wanted) so that he doesn’t wake up the entire house and thus, in one bark, negating the entire point of you being up so fucking early.
Whilst the tea is brewing, you unpack the dishwasher, lay out the packed lunches you made the night before and empty the recycling bin. Whilst drinking your tea, you write a list. On this list there are things that need to be done. In theory you are writing this list for the entire family to pitch in and share it out. Willingly and joyously. Like they would in a commune – each member taking responsibility for the chore that relates to their strength. But no-one in your family appears to have strengths in the chore department. Nobody notices that the clothes make a long and tiring journey from body to washer to dryer to airer to drawer. Nobody notices the donkey that carries them.
You hear voices upstairs and you sigh. Time up. Buckle up. Brace, brace…
“I’m in the shower!” “Where are my tights?” “Darling, have you seen my wallet?” “I hate you!” “Can you sign my planner?” “I need a pound for own clothes day”. “I need new shoes” …
You need to get to work. You dodge the missiles, but still manage to get hit. It hurts and you want to scream, but you know that you wouldn’t be heard. The storm cloud of husband and teenagers leaves the house just ahead of you. You shut the door behind you on a mess that will greet you with arms flung wide open on your return at 6pm.
Your train is cancelled due to the strike and as you clutch at your one bastion of freedom that is a Costa coffee, you dream of going on strike. You stand there on the platform and you imagine that one day your service will not be running: there were crisis talks, but no resolution was reached and the dispute continued. The two sides could not agree. One side felt aggrieved that she did all the work running the home, for no extra pay and the other side disagreed and felt that her allegation was unfair.
Work is spent juggling texts from teenage children who have lost things, who need lifts later, who want to stay over at a friends, who are wondering what you are doing a week on Saturday because they need a lift back from a party and, somewhat miraculously, it is also spent doing work: managing, delegating, presenting, answering questions, writing reports and feeling a little bit human.
Your key is turning in your front door and every night, Monday to Friday, you have a tiny hope that you will walk in to an oasis of calm. Perhaps some rose petals scattered, following a candlelit path to a bath overflowing with bubbles. Every night, Monday to Friday you walk into everything that hasn’t been done and more. Like a rabid dog you are on it. You are filling pans with vegetables and boiling water, whilst yelling for someone to feed the cat, as you put the dog out for a wee, at the same time as you are listening to a grievance about a teacher and it is all done whilst you are still in your coat.
Your husband walks through the door, the Clyde to your Bonnie. You are a team once more. Back-up has arrived. “I’m just going to take off my suit and I’ll be down” are his cheery words.
“Noooooooo!” You want to scream. “Not the fucking suit!”
The suit that means the lie down on the bed, the check my Facebook, the take a leisurely shit.
Every day, Monday to Friday nobody seems to care. Nobody seems to notice. One day…one day you will get your freedom. Just not today.