I’ve been told I’m a bit of a test case for a few folk out there… to see if I sink or swim working as a influencer/encourager on the Internet. I’d say at the moment, six months in, I’m neither sink or swim, I’m more ‘floater’ – if my latest paid gig with Cushelle bog roll is anything to go by. (For anyone who didn’t see the ‘Mother Pukka Goes Potty’ vlog, I was nestled on that porcelain chalice literally parenting the shit out of life.)
But while I was perched on the crapper (being paid, mind, so no violins), I did wonder if this was, in fact, a sinking (or, perhaps stinking) moment. I’ve got a law degree – from Reading, so it’s a bit Tesco Value according to my husband – and I worked really hard in my GCSE’s securing an A* in Religious Studies – all ‘love thy neighbour’ principles still being fully administered when raging in a turbo queue at Nat West.
I think I assumed in those heady Mmm Bop/ Smirnoff Ice years that I’d end up swathed in a Hobbs suit somewhere with unlimited access to Pukka notepads. As it stands, the ‘Pukka’ element is there but I’m sat on a shitter in my pyjamas flogging bog roll, doing my best Stanislavski performance of Tilly the dinosaur. Oh life plan, you wily mistress.
But reading a feature in The Sunday Times Style mag (The New Testament in many ways), it’s all about ‘The Pivot’. It’s not about reinventing the wheel entirely but shifting it a bit here and there – akin to releasing a rusty old lock with an unravelled paperclip – to make work actually work for us.
Whereas a £27,000 salary and my own Biro was a big focus pre-splash down, the ideal line-up for me now is control, time, then money – in that order. I want to be able to linger maternally in the homestead with Mae when she’s got the lurgy without having to ‘send an email by 9am to my line manager’ to explain my basic need to keep the nipper alive.
I want more time to be with her; still a negative there. And I want some coppers to buy kale and the occasional Curly Wurly as a Friday afternoon treat.
I was told never to say ‘I want’, but to always say ‘please may I have’. Well, I’ve asked nicely and no one gave me what I wanted (a flexible working life that fits in with a family; we’re talking same output, flexible vehicle), so I resorted to the toddler tantrum – complete with bowl of spaghetti on floor – where ‘I want’ is hollered out repeatedly in a Ribena berry-faced rage. That obviously didn’t work either, so here I find myself on the toilet.
But what we want doesn’t have to correlate to our hopes and dreams circa 1997 when our norks were perky and our minds set on shagging to the irksome, lingering beat of Morcheeba. Much like my derriere, things shift, people change and ultimately what you want heads to a town a little south of ideal. For all The Stuff that you thought you needed, perhaps it is just being at home, working on something – anything – embellished by yoghurt trying to Sellotape remnants of a career together that’s the true happy place.
(Equally, it might well be smashing through glass ceilings with the gusto of Penelope Pitstop in the final lap – complete with commuter bead-on. My feeling is right now the latter is nigh impossible in the constraints of an eyewateringly expensive daycare system and the majority of companies offering the sort of flexibility that can only be compared to Gordon Brown attempting rhythmic gymnastics.)
For me, it’s been a re-branding exercise, really. Because what I’m doing here – and most days I’m not even sure – is never going to be a test case for anyone else. Whether staying at home, working away, flogging T-shirts/bog roll, building bridges, making teething/anal beads, it’s the mess you get into along the way that’s truly where it’s at.
It’s the ‘I blinded my newborn with my spouting breastmilk’; it’s the snuggling up next to your partner pyjama-ed up to the eyeballs with a Fisher Price toy as a primary-hued third wheel and it’s working out how you – only you – want to live.
For now, I’m on a toilet. Long may it continue.
Photo: Miles Aldridge