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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Limbo Bimbo

Returned to work Monday after bloody lousy half term holiday spent mostly on my back (and for all the wrong reasons). Actually, the lying-on-my-back thing had its advantages. My middle bro pointed out that being half-crippled was about the only thing likely to slow me down. When else would I spend four days lolling about, watching TV and eating leftover chocolate cake from a three year old's birthday party? And the kids thought I made a great tumbling mat.
Erm, well, that was about it actually on the advantages. On the down side, the usual cloud of fogginess that descends on my brain after any extended time away from work was much, much worse. It occurs to me that day to day, I jump in and out of my neatly compartmentalised 'work' and 'home' boxes, navigating pretty smoothly from one headspace to the other. There's no time to think about the mental adjustment; it just kinda has to happen otherwise things would start to fall apart. But after a week of unavoidable lolling, of Toy-Story-on-a-loop, of camps made out of blankets and too much chocolate cake, I found myself in a weird limbo-like state on Monday; I was back in the office, but I hadn't quite fully made the transition back into the World Of Work. I smiled benignly at a colleague as he waved his arms around emphatically, denouncing the latest move by one of our competitors, and felt rather distant from it all. I stared at the 400+ emails in my inbox and was unable to summon any level of panic, or motivation to clear them. I was a Limbo Bimbo, and my head felt full of cotton wool.
By Tuesday morning the fog had cleared, I'd successfully avoided the pain au raisin at the train station on the way in, and three coffees in to the morning I felt like I was firing on all cylinders once more. I'd departed Limbo and I hadn't descended into hell. I was simply back at work. I feel a lot more comfortable in the hundred-miles-an-hour me; it feels high-energy, productive. But somehow I still have the sneaky suspicion that my brood all kinda preferred 'Lazy Mummy'.
Emailing with a female colleague later today, I got the sense that like so many of us WMs, she also has to manage the desire of her kids for Mummy to slow down once in a while. I felt an enormous sense of kinship as she cried off an evening event in a couple of week's time. She'd only just be returning from a business trip and would have to 'beg forgiveness from the children and husband for my wicked business travelling ways.'
I emailed her back, "Well, the sum of all my earthly wisdom is: 'don't beat yourself up'. It works for me every time."
"No need to beat myself up, when everyone else does it for me," she replied bitterly. "I've outsourced that function very effectively. Sigh."
That made me laugh out loud as I travelled through the oncoming darkness into south east London and back to my family.

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