WHEN I was a kid, there was a good portion of my childhood where I didn’t get much of a weekend.
I worked alongside my Dad for most of Saturday (in a job too crashingly boring to even detail here) and had a busy Sunday with choir practice which was about ten miles from our house and required lots of buses back and forward. Throw in homework and the days kinda ran into one another.
There wasn’t much I could do about it all, it was just the way life was, so I went with it. As I got older then and went to college I worked part time in a supermarket to pay my way so worked every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sundays so again weekends were pretty much like any other day.
It was only when I got my first real job that only required occasional weekend work that I finally realised what people were on about when they said ‘Thank God it’s Friday’.
Fridays in my office were bliss. BLISS! There’d work to be done, of course, but it tapered off so that from about 3.30pm you’d be getting down to the really important stuff – emailing pictures of cats to your best friend.
There’d be every chance your boss would let you off early, so you could skip off before the bus got really full, with the whole weekend stretched before you like an endless glittering carpet of possibility.
Or if he came upon you with your feet on the desk eating an ice-cream at half four, instead of saying ‘Get back to work you lazy pup’, he’d say ‘What’s that? A Feast is it? Gowan, givus a bit.’ And he’d go back to his own desk for another round of Solitaire, one eye on the clock.
Really, nothing could beat that Friday feeling, it felt almost tangible and it was like a drug that I craved week after week.
It went on like that for a good 12 years but then like all good things, it came to an end. I became a parent. And literally overnight ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ transformed into ‘What day is it? Who am I?’
Babies don’t know the days of the week, you see. They’re surprisingly inept at reading the calendar and any attempt to convince them that Friday is actually a special day is met with derision and extra smelly nappies. Just out of spite.
The first few months of parenthood, I didn’t really notice it. Every hour of the day, let alone days of the week, blended into one big mess of nappies and feedings and colic.
I remember being on the phone to a bloke helping me sort out my maternity benefit and he asked me my name and I literally couldn’t remember. I was so tired that I paused for so long before answering him that he actually said ‘It’s ok, we’ll come back to that.’
So for a while, the lack of that Friday feeling didn’t bother me. But then as The Beast got older and things settled down into a bit of a routine, I started to notice what day of the week it was again and get excited about Fridays.
I’d sit in the sitting room watching the clock inch towards 4pm, head swivelling between the baby and the ticking hands waiting for him to stop grizzling and announce ‘Go on, you can go early, see you Monday!’
But he didn’t. He kept moaning out of him and slowly, achingly slowly, I realised that this was it. This was Fridays from now on, the same as any other day.
Of course weekends are still lovely, Yer Man has every Saturday off which is luckier than a lot of families and we make an effort at least two Saturdays a month to do something as a family, go somewhere fun, which gives us something to look forward to.
But that Friday feeling – that feeling of sheer abandonment, of leaving your work behind for the weekend – is gone. And I’m not sure that I’ll ever get it back.
I think I’ll have to live vicariously through The Beast. He’ll be starting primary school in a couple of years and I can’t wait for him to run out of the school gates chattering about being let off homework and getting a sweet from the Teacher.
With the weekend stretching before him like an endless glittering carpet of possibility.