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The children are back at school. Shiny hair, shiny shoes. Smiley faces. Ok, that’s just me. Obviously, I feel like I’ve lost three limbs now I don’t have them arguing and talking in American accents all day, but I’m tough. I’ll cope. To prove to myself how strong I am, I went for my first run in months and now I can’t walk. As the Red Hot Chilli Peppers said though ‘I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl’. By moon, I mean bed, for a lovely post-drop-off nap.

The girls were not happy at pick up. The new Head teacher is making all the kids tuck in their school shirts. They demanded to change schools. ‘Mum, you said tucking shirts in was for saddo’s’ said the eldest as she wrestled out of her starchy M&S button-down.

Teaching my children to conform to the norm seems so wrong. Am I going to have to start tucking my shirts in now? What next, pulling my socks up? How can I get them to do what they are told when I’ve spent my life doing the opposite of what I’ve been advised?

I don’t think tucking in shirts is important. Shiny shoes don’t make me walk better or learn quicker. I’m all about comfort over style. You only have to look at my underwear collection for confirmation of this.

So I’m avoiding introducing myself to the new teacher. She’ll be calling me in soon enough to tell me one of my children started another ‘Penis gang’ (the shame of it) or refused to close their eyes at prayer time. I know I’m only going to end up saying something stupid and I get tactile when nervous.

She’s very pretty and wears high heels. I’ve always found ‘power women’ intimidating. People who take themselves seriously scare me. My best friend at school is the head of some multi-million marketing company. We used to get the same results in class. Now I take her son to nursery. She drops him off in her designer clothes. I open the door in a Grinch-onesie covered in jam.

Sometimes I feel envious, but mostly I feel relieved. I hated working in an office. It’s all politics and ‘who has taken my special mug’ and ‘let’s punch a puppy’ which I later found out meant ‘do something difficult that was good for the business’. Incidentally, I was the puppy. They didn’t punch me, they just made me redundant.

One boss told my I’d make a great party planner. I was working in technical security at the time. I think he was trying to compliment me, but obviously he was calling me a clown. I got made redundant from that job too.

If you’ve ever been laid off, you’ll know how soul destroying it could be. One company I worked with made a long-standing employee redundant, but he kept coming back into work, pretending like it hadn’t happened. It was really awful, but also quite funny. When his key fob stopped working, he snuck in with the postman. He didn’t have a computer anymore, so he just kept making us tea. We had a special meeting about him and were told not to accept any beverages he offered. We all know I’m a rule breaker. I got fired for that one.

At least at home I only have meetings with the cat. ‘You know why I’ve called you in. You’ve poo’d in the shower again. We’ve talked about this before’. The cat looks at me like my old boss used to. I slink off and bring her back lunch. She’d love to punch a puppy.

 

I don’t miss being called in to consultations and verbal-warnings but staying-at-home is not all hot air balloons and picnic baskets either. The best of both worlds is hard to find. If you love your job you are incredibly lucky. I think being really good at something helps too. I don’t know for sure because I’m only good at annoying people. I suppose I could go into tele-sales.

How many of us do what we are best at for a living? Is anyone doing the job they dreamed of when they were at school? I’m not a best-selling-novelist. My husband isn’t playing for Spurs.

Life seems to be about sacrifice more than anything else. Finding the balance between that and achievement is hard. That’s why I like to attach the word to very simple tasks, like getting dressed, or feeding the children. Then I can go to bed feeling like the captain of my soul.

The older I get the more I realise that life is mostly just hard work. Those that think otherwise soon get unfriended from my social media feeds. No one wants a smug over-achiever boasting all day about #livingthierbestlife. Why be happy when you could be normal?