I have an interesting evening coming up. I'm going to my ex-boss's leaving do at the company I used to work for. I'm planning on meeting up with someone I used to know quite well.
This woman doesn't have children. She loves her job. She dresses well, and her shoes are polished and never down at heel. She would never dream of meeting a friend for lunch wearing a scuffed pair of bowling shoes that haven't been cleaned in heaven knows how many months. She never turns up for work with snot on her shoulders or on her thigh at the level of Boy #2's nose.
She can stay in the office as long as she likes, with no fear of domestic crises ensuing as a result of that. She can travel at will, and frequently does.
She gets on with her office colleagues. They have a laugh. She can fit in with most people, normally using humour to win their trust and respect, but can be serious when called for. Work-wise, she knows what she's talking about and it shows.
She listens to the radio at her desk - not boring old Capital FM, but cutting edge indy stuff. She goes to gigs. She wears make-up, and gets her hair cut once every 5 weeks without fail. She even manages to fit in the odd manicure on one of her occasional Saturday shopping trips. She never falls asleep in meetings or in front of the 10 o'clock news. She can finish a conversation without being interrupted by someone falling over, dropping something, needing their bottom wiped, or their face freeing of bogeys.
She works with people with kids, and doesn't see what the big deal is. How hard can it be, right? She rolls her eyes (unseen, she thinks) when her child-encumbered colleagues have to leave dead-on 5.30pm every day. She covers for them with good grace when their children are sick and it's their turn to stay home with the high temperatures and the vomit. She watches interestedly as they become increasingly skittish when a meeting rolls on past it's allotted slot, and they sit there trying to work out how they are going to fit the rest of their days' work into an ever-decreasing number of hours.
She nods understandingly when they speak despairingly of ever reclaiming their pre-pregancy wardrobe, but secretly wonders why they are stuffing down a double sandwich from Pret followed by a chocolate brownie if they are really that bothered. She watches the post-natal women at the gym struggling with their sit-ups as she pounds along on the running machine and vows never to let it get that far.
You guessed it, of course. That used to be me. And you know what? I really don't think I was that much of a bitch - just a normal, career-focused, childless woman. 15 years post-uni of having responsibility only for yourself (excepting of course marital, family and friendship obligations) will do that to a person.
But obviously, I've changed. Or rather, my priorities have. So it's going to be interesting this evening when I go to this party, to see how my ex-colleagues react to that. Or, in fact, if they even notice any difference...
Back in my reality, brushing the Boys' teeth, this morning...
Me: I must get you a new toothbrush, Boy #2...
Boy #1: Why?
Me: Because Boy #2 chews his toothbrush so this one is looking a bit sorry for itself.
Boy #1: Can I see? (Pause, whilst he studies the evidence & considers his verdict...) Oh, yeeeessss. It looks like a sad little mouse lying dead in the road after being squashed by a car.