Bye, bye baby
So yesterday it really hit me. In six weeks my life will change beyond recognition.
Actually, make that one and a bit.
In six weeks (or thereabouts), I'll be attempting to push something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of an orange...
But next Thursday, I'll be stopping work as I know it.
Up to now, "work" has been creative brainstorms, client meetings and trips to California and Europe. It was conference calls with Japan, writing straplines on the Tube, scribbling ideas, developing brand strategies, running workshops, replying to emails and delivering presentations (that I'd perfected on the plane just in time). It was paper and pencils and pitches and whiteboards. It was my laptop. My desktop. My iPhone. My Black and Red.
But most of all, it was my colleagues. My Frameworkers. My friends.
I've been an "employee" for over a decade now, and from my early days as a roving radio reporter and my time managing events to the more recent years leading copy teams and working with first-class creative talent, I have always had a love of two things – words and people.
And it was at The Frameworks, three years ago, where I found the best combination of both.
Since I joined this agency, I've had the chance to work with some of the brightest, nicest, most talented people I've ever met. I still work with many of them on a daily basis (virtually and in person) – and I'm a little bit devastated that I'll soon be saying goodbye to them for a whole year.
You might be thinking it's just the pregnancy hormones. And okay, they might play a part. But I know it's more than that.
Anyone who loves the people they work with and is suddenly faced with the prospect of not being around them anymore will understand what I mean. Especially all you first time mums-to-be who've decided to put your career on hold – or park it altogether (but never say never).
So I'm just going to say it. Yes, I'm excited to be growing a brand new human. And yes, I know how unbelievably lucky I am to be at the beginning of such an emotional, all-encompassing, life-changing journey. But I'm really going to miss my job.
Most people I talk to now assume that I cannot wait for my maternity leave to start. And of course that's true to an extent... It's getting pretty exhausting waking up at crap o'clock through the night as the baby's jumping on my bladder again, then trekking across London in a sleep fog with my giant bump. Though I still smile to myself every time I walk past my bridge. And countless other iconic London landmarks along the way. I love this city.
And yes, it's getting harder to sit comfortably at my desk. Or anywhere. (Though I’m loving my big blue pregnancy ball.)
And yes it's a bit harder to stay quite as focused as I was a few months back. (That's very temporary and worth the long-term investment, just in case anyone reading this is tempted to sceptically question the productivity of working mums-to-be.)
And yes, my husband and I absolutely cannot wait to meet our little baby girl – knowing we won't be interrupted by emails or meeting invites.
But I'm going to miss those emails and meeting invites.
I'm going to miss the little things...
The office chat.
The cups of tea (and hot squash).
Scribbling on the giant white board.
The blast of a horn when a proper ship sails past.
And of course I'll miss the big things...
Dave's afro – and his creative genius.
Standing up in front of CEOs to present our work.
Andrew's Skype profile picture of his beloved dog.
Megan and Jen. (Come back!)
Chris x 2.
(Maybe I should have asked a designer to turn that into a word cloud.)
In fact, I'll miss everyone – including all my Frameworker friends over in the States.
I'll miss "using my brain".
Let me re-phrase... I'll miss using my brain in the way I use it now. Conference calls will be replaced by coffee mornings. Trying to come up with a catchy headline will be replaced by trying to come up with catchy little lyrics to "sing" to my newborn baby. I apologise now.
But both of those things – and so many other aspects of bringing up a child – involve two of the most fundamental skills that I apply to my work now, every day: communication and creativity.
Perhaps there are more similarities than I first thought.
In any creative job, to an extent, you "work" when the creativity hits. In the middle of the night. Mid shower. When you're on holiday, on the beach, gazing out at a brilliant blue sea. On the bus.
Sometimes at your desk.
As a creative writer (and thinker), you can't control exactly when you're going to have that flash of inspiration – and there's often a massive amount of trial and error before you get to the right answer. You keep pushing and thinking and talking and scribbling and making "mistakes" and going with the flow and hitting brick walls and just in time everything comes together. And very occasionally you nail it first time.
It sounds a bit like parenthood.
Seeing (and hearing) how friends and colleagues have taken the baby plunge – and how they handle it, very impressively, every day – has taught me a key lesson: you have to let go.
You have to let go of trying to control things. You have to go with the flow. You have to adapt and change and grow. You have to be creative every day.
You have to let go of perfection – because in amongst all of the "mistakes" and brick walls and exhaustion is the perfection.
So hopefully, being a writer and my experiences in the workplace (wherever that really is) will genuinely help me do a half-decent job of being a Mum.
Like I said, I'm excited (and a little bit terrified) about the next chapter of my story; but just before it really begins, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to my Frameworker friends – you all helped me write the last one.
See you on the other side. (Hopefully at the Christmas party.)
- The Frameworks