I see you at the park with your good handbag and your polished nails, pushing your toddler on the swing, checking your phone, latte in hand, and I know you’re a Friday Mum.
You’ve been at work all week and your decent sunglasses and shiny hair show me you have something to show for it; and why not? You deserve to spend a bit of cash on yourself, you deserve to look good.
When you put the smartphone back in your pocket, you look so delighted, so happy to be with your little girl after the week apart – elated and smiling brightly as she giggles when you tickle her chubby legs as they swing towards you, and make funny faces as she swings away.
Cash in your pocket, you can afford to take your little one to the cafe for lunch and I see you striding away purposefully, your little girl holding your hand. Maybe you have plans for the petting zoo or soft play later. Maybe you’re meeting up with friends.
I feel tired and harassed and ready for the weekend when my wing-man, also known as Daddy, comes to share the load. I’ve been racing around at home all morning, vacuuming while my two little ones eat breakfast, putting away a week’s worth of laundry, grabbing supplies from the supermarket as we make our way to the same park as you, Friday Mum.
I feel weary and disconnected as I check my messages. My mind is elsewhere as I push my children on the swings and then I remember they’re there, two gorgeous faces beaming at me, and I give them a tickle and smile back. But my smile doesn’t quite reach my eyes: I’m shattered and I feel guilty for not giving them my attention before now.
I take them to the cafe for lunch because we forgot to buy anything even vaguely useful at the shops – I’ve been up in the night with the littlest every night this week. As I wrestle her into the highchair, I begin to feel flustered and sweaty. Why can’t she understand this is supposed to be fun? I hardly ever get to take them out because we’re permanently skint.
As we eat, quiet for a moment, I glance down at the chipped nail varnish on my toes – they’ll need another coat tonight – and reach for my new sunglasses from my bag, a Mulberry relic from my life before children, and I imagine you going to work, Friday Mum.
You creep about the quiet house, leaving your sleeping baby with Daddy, putting make-up on your tired face on the bus, battling through the exhaustion to do your job well and wondering why you do it at all when the childcare bill eats up most of your salary. All day, you miss your daughter, and wonder what she’s doing and sneakily look at photos of her on your phone. Then you head home to a frazzled child, re-connecting for the final hours of the day, soaking up the love after those hours apart, while battling through the bedtime grumps. And all week you look forward to Friday, only to finally get there and find that Friday is hard too, just in a different way. It’s not difficult for me to imagine this, not at all, because I’m a Friday Mum too, just like you.
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four years.