Monday, August 14, 2006

Entering the limbo

Tonight is Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. More importantly, tomorrow is the first day of what I am referring to rather simplistically as my 'maternity leave'.

Breaking this term down I find it normally refers to a defined period of leave from work however I think in this case it's perfectly clear that this is more like a completely undefined leave from, well, from everything. Frankly.

While there is a nominal date for my putative return to normality it's one defined by the prosaic, by bank accounts, work and received wisdom rather than one defined by any closely examined reality. This date says to the world that come the end of February, I will gaily trip off to work leaving the blob in the hands of a paid carer and life will resume. Leave will be over. This is presuming that the blob is a living breathing baby and that there is work to return to and that I have managed to exist on what I have for this period of time and most importantly, that I can face it all. It's a date chosen from this side of time, from the side where there is no baby, where there is money and time and freedom, not a date chosen with any of the realities of the moment in place. Further, the start date for this leave of absence was also chosen relatively at random and it isn't actually the start of anything. In fact, there could easily be another month like this, a month of nothing happening, a month of not being able to do anything but wait.

It feels very random, this period of time which government agencies, employers and other mothers-to-be have conspired to fix. Neat and tidy, viewed in increments - three months, six months, a year... nice defined pieces of time that say 'I'm a work-a-holic', 'I'm middle-class', 'I've got a good benefits package', increments that box up an experience as if it could be controlled by ascribing a beginning and an end, as if there would be an end, as if by calling this 'leave' there will have to be a 'return', where-as nowhere did I read that this was a return trip.

So, I have taken my leave and find myself here in the netherworld, post-normal, pre-unknown. I have a list of things to do to fill the time, to divert my experience of the passing of this time and tomorrow I begin. Something has ended, something else is beginning.


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