It’s a source of eternal irritation to me that something is only noticed if it has failed to be done / has been done badly. I can be up at 5.30am with Pearl, and have put the towels in the wash, put away the never-ending piles of clean clothes, cleaned up our dog’s wee on the floor if he’s been feeling lazy (thanks Humphrey), given our oldest daughter her medicine as she slowly recovers from her recent bout of tonsillitis, replied to urgent work emails, put the porridge on and put all the jigsaw pieces back in the right box. But at 8am, an eye fresh to the scene would no doubt only see the toys strewn all over every available surface, the dog needing his breakfast, the fact three of us are still in pyjamas and the unemptied dishwasher. Which makes me wonder – when comes the moment when all the boring, nothing jobs get acknowledged? Is it when the piles of clean washing become so big you have to climb over them to get into bed? Is it when all the discarded socks in the living room form together in one horrific rat king situation (Google it – I wish I hadn’t)? Is it when the towels are so sodden you can’t use them, Isadora gets upset because she only has one piece for every puzzle, Pearl gets ill because no-one has chased up and booked her jabs, no-one can find ANYTHING because it has not been put back in the right place? The razzle-dazzle jobs are the ones I want, the tangible ones you can see the results of and bask in the praise for. Emptying the dishwasher? Perfect – a) it’s noisy, everyone can hear you do it, b) it takes a few mins (keep out mummy’s way, she’s emptying the dishwasher), c) there’s something really satisfying and enjoyable about putting clean things back in the right place. Or is that just me?
And how about cooking dinner, surely the A-lister of jobs? Is there anything more tangible than presenting a hungry, tired person with a hot plate of delicious food? Unfortunately, this job can sometimes come with a Nothing job – looking after the kids and keeping them out of the way if the other person feels like getting creative in the kitchen. The do-er of the Nothing job must then (slightly frazzled and exhausted from keeping the crawler out the path of boiling-over pans for 45 minutes) be suitably grateful and thankful for their dinner. Which reminds me a bit of Ryan Gosling’s lovely speech at the Golden Globes, where he thanked his wife for looking after the kids so he could go off and do his glamorous thing. Too much to expect?
Which brings me to the Nothing of Nothing jobs, the most thankless task in the planet – cutting nails. Something so horrific that I still don’t do my three year old’s, but leave it for my mother (thank-you!). The other day, while pinning my screaming youngest to the ground so I could desperately clip at her claws, I did wonder how long her nails would have to get before someone else picked up the scissors. But this is the thing about Nothing jobs – we will never know, because ultimately we’re pretty good at what we do. And it’s this mishmash of under-appreciated jobs that basically makes up motherhood – and if that’s the worst of it, then that’s fine with me.