My little girl turned three and it's slowly dawning on me that I only have a year before I need to return to paid work. I'm in the very priviledged position of being able to look after my daughter until she starts school, and I'm thankful for this every day. Although, the longer I'm not employed, the more I find myself getting anxious about the prospect of being an employee.
Firstly, the whole interview process terrifies me. I haven't been interviewed for more than seven years! How on earth am I going to look and sound like a professional person when all I think about is wee, poo, wiping snot and hiding vegetables in other foods? I don't think I could take the whole thing seriously now. I'm prone to giggling when things get too ernest, so much so that I can get the giggles at a funeral (it happened, don't judge me please) - because I'm really three years old now.
What about the inevitable questions about what I have been doing for three years? Even though I'm a stay-at-home mum, they expect you to be industrious and volunteer at your local play group don't they. I won't tell them I'm the mother who shirks any responsibility, even washing up is too much for me. I'll have to buy a new wardrobe too, unless I can put brooches on all the old stains that adorn my clothes. Is it acceptable not to wear a bra in an office? Please say it is, because I practically burnt my bra in the first few months of being pregnant and my boobs hate being trussed up. Do I have to brush my teeth everyday?
I also wonder if I can sit at a desk for hours on end without falling asleep. Put a mum in a chair for an hour and tell her not to get up and she'll be asleep in minutes. Oh, and the most worrying thing for me is the fact I have no tact anymore, because I'm so used to the say-it-how-it-is way with my daughter (yes darling, that lady does have a moustache, no it's not a caterpillar) (yes darling, that man does smell, yes he does need a nice bath) (yes darling, I can smell your trump, yes it does smell of cooking). If someone in the office looks distracted while I'm talking to them, I will be asking them if they need a wee, and could they please go quickly before their tummy hurts.
I had a look at ways I could work from home, or start my own enterprise. That way I wouldn't have to be in an office and be around more socially-acceptable people. I thought of the direct selling franchises, but I soon realised that you have to be even more sociable to make this work. One thing that brings in income is to hold selling parties in your home! I don't know about you, but having a child does not make a home party friendly. "Please excuse the potty full of wee, and the poo stain on the sofa is a year old so don't worry about sitting on it". There's also the small fact that after two glasses of wine I'm drunk, so I would be the embarrassing person telling really inappropriate stories while the guests desperately thought of excuses to leave.
So employed work is really the only real option for me, unless I think of a crafty thing that people want to buy. I've got a year to go before I have to don the work suit, pull on non-sandal shoes, wear a fitted bra, and stop giggling at the wrong things (that's if I can FIND a job, of course). I'm pretty sure once I get employed I'll settle down to being a professional person, but until then I get the 'returning to work anxiety' that wakes me up at night. The only way to get through it is preparation. There's nothing stopping me from getting my CV ready, and looking around for companies I like. I can refresh my computer skills and get up to date. I can read about interview techniques and write a list of anticipated questions and responses. I can chat to friends about opportunities likely to come up. I can even buy some professional-looking clothes and shoes.
The only thing I can't do is stop being pre-occupied with wee, poo and hiding vegetables, and telling people to eat with their mouths closed, and go to the toilet.