I’m going back to work in less than a month, which is….fine? Good? Terrifying? I can’t decide, but the only certainty is that I am going back, so it will be what it will be. I’ll be interested to discover whether I will be able to settle once and for all the argument (only argued by parents) that being a parent is the “hardest job in the world” and that non-parents “don’t know what tiredness is”. As if parents have done every other job in the world- US president, head of United Nations, working down a coal mine and so on- and can therefore say with certainty that having a kid is harder. And as if parents have the monopoly on tiredness, when in fact it seems that the entire world and everyone in it is in a perpetual state of fatigue. Ah, fast world, modern times etc.
You can probably guess that I come down quite firmly in the “no” camp when it comes to the question: are parents the tiredest of all? It’s part of a strange delusion many modern parents seem to have, that they are the first people in world to procreate. I mean, sure, it is bloody knackering, having a child, particularly the baby sort. And since Leila is currently experiencing some sort of heinous sleep regression (I can’t work out if she generally sleeps well, with rough patches, or generally sleeps poorly, with good patches), I can confirm, with especially great conviction between the hours of 3am and 5am, that it is bloody knackering. It’s dinner then bed for me and G these days. Wild.
But is it more knackering than work? I can recall in the dim and dusty past feeling pretty shattered from work as well. And shattered in a much more soul-crushing, oh-god-why-please-god-why sort of way. With work tiredness sans child, granted, you can set aside time to recharge, and guarantee that you will sleep uninterrupted all night long, and utter wondrous sentences like “let’s just take it really easy this weekend”. So it’s more manageable. But there is one key difference: with work tiredness, when you are driven to tears with sheer exhaustion one moment, you don’t generally find yourself in the next moment filled with an adoration for your job so intense that you want to gobble it up whole. Though with work you can (so they say) leave the job in the office when you come home, the fatigue isn’t offset by a desperate urge to go and stare at your job in the middle of the night and bring it into your bed for a cuddle.
So in conclusion, work is very tiring. Parenting is very tiring. The latter comes with a better benefits package though, so in exhaustion terms, you get more bang for your buck.
And soon I get to do both!