Job’s a good’un

I know I’ve been a bit quiet recently but that’s mostly because I haven’t actually been looking after the kids. Well, not on my own anyway. The last couple of days Helen has selflessly taken off to help so I’ve only been 50% responsible for their welfare.
Probably less than 50% in all honesty. I found it a bit too easy to slip back into the old division of labour, where I do all the playing and Helen does all the feeding, sleeping, bathing, soothing and everything else less rewarding than funtime.
And on Friday I didn’t even have to be half responsible as I went into the office for the first of my ‘keep in touch’ days. I get 10 during these three months, so I will be doing pretty much one day a week in the office, to make sure they don’t forget I work there as much as anything.
Sickeningly, on Friday, I found everything at work had been running smoothly in my absence. It’s obviously nice and reassuring not to have to worry about coming back to a crisis but now, instead, I’m worrying that the powers that be will spot how smoothly everything ran without me.
I spent most of the day looking for a disaster that only I could solve, just seeking to validate my being there. I didn’t go as far as engineering any catastrophe, but I’m in the office again this Friday and if they are still labouring under the impression they can cope without me by then, I may need to take action.
Despite no crisis, a few illnesses meant there was a lot to do, but I actually found it relaxing. Without wanting to sound big-headed, I know I am quite good at my job. I’m not finding a cure for cancer or anything – editing a 
personal finance magazine really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things – but it is something I can do.
Maybe the fact it doesn’t matter makes it easier as I don’t feel any
 real pressure. Pretty much the worst case scenario if I fail to do my job properly would be a financial adviser in Bracknell not finding out that a global bond fund has launched. Or, more likely, finding out from someone else.
Anyway, it’s a job I can do and it was easy to slip back into the routine of checking pages and shouting at salespeople. The general feeling of being in control was really welcome after a week of the improvised mayhem that being at home with the kids has quickly become, something for which I have no natural gift and where the consequences of a cock-up are considerably more serious.
While I enjoy my job and the day-to-day routine of going into the office, the industry I work in can often seem like the last bastion of the 1980s. Not the good bits like leg warmers, Ferris Bueller and fluorescent socks, but more the naked machismo that still permeates so much of the business world.
Aspects of the industry often feel quite old school, with boozy lunches running right through the afternoon still prevalent and a ‘Glen Garry Glenross’-type sales culture. With all this in mind, it really struck me on Friday how lucky I am to be able to do what I am doing.
My other half works in the public sector. I’d heard that was supposed to be all about stupidly generous benefits and unlimited organic quinoa for new mothers. But, while the terms of the leave she was given are generous, the culture of her work seems to be placing ever more demands on her time, with little acknowledgement that she might want to see the kids occasionally.
I really don’t mean this as a whinge. We are both lucky to have jobs we (mostly) enjoy and Helen is only being expected to work the terms set out in her contract, but it struck me how brilliant my work has been to allow me to do this. In fact, beyond allowing me, they have been ridiculously accommodating and every individual at every level of the business has been genuinely encouraging. Now I think about it you could say they have been downright enthusiastic about the idea of me not coming in for three months.
Of course, it’s possible that they are not that forward-thinking after all. Maybe they are just glad to see the back of me. No, that can’t be it. They must be enlightened. There’s no other reasonable explanation.

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