Working at being grown up

Perhaps it’s the time of year? Steeped as we are, in the sometime sobriety of FebFast, having cannonballed past the dread festive season with its Auld Lang bloody Syne’s and  associated reflection and resolution, talk turns to job satisfaction or lack thereof. A dear friend who inhabits a stressful EA role in high end recruitment, is planning her exit strategy.

My exit strategy involves a lottery win.

Then we reflected on the various parenting pep talks we’ve delivered to our respective off-spring on the subject of working lives. They involved motivational bullshit hype about being the best version of yourself and finding something you love so it won’t feel like working.


I’m guessing every hipster who began businesses with names like ‘The Misty Catfish’  or ‘The Whistle and Sprocket” grew up listening to a similar Oprah-esque refrain. Thanks to their passion for butter churning, hemp dog coats or jewellery repurposed from old coat hangers, these crazy kids aren’t working at all.

They’re living the dream!

panda cuddler


Back when I was a mere slip of a gel, a ‘dream job’ just meant you didn’t cry each morning at the thought of it and you weren’t plotting the demise of your boss.



80’s instructional video

You got a job because your parents had decided you were big enough and ugly enough to function on your own. Your mum had gone into serious Knitwit production and was churning out straight legged pants faster than a Bangladeshi sweatshop. She and your dad were arguing over who needed your room more. His home brew kit was relegated to the shed.

All the while you scoured ‘house mates wanted’ ads pinned to the community notice boards of the local Safeway and ended up in some ramshackle Victorian with rusted lacework in Richmond. One of your house mates was a cross dresser who looked better in heels than you, one was waiting to be discovered by Hector Crawford, but got a bit of work modelling for the ‘Venture’ catalogue and the other one spent days at a time grafted onto a bean bag and attached to a bong.

Then your parents decided to leave the home-brew (bhlop blohp blohpping in a plastic rubbish bin) and the over worked overlocker, to hook the Millard pop-top to the HQ Kingswood and travel the length of this wide brown land.

Could you pop by and water the hanging pots from time to time, dear? I don’t want to lose another lobelia.

Work Life balance began when you skived off from the office and headed to the pub on a Friday afternoon. You could, emboldened by a second strong Kahlua and milk, impersonate the miserable cow in HR for the amusement of the sales team. Nothing said work/life like kvetching about co-workers with co-workers in a beer garden.

There’s so much pressure to work in a job you LOVE with co-workers who you’d like totally choose as BFF’s anyway! I have kept in contact with precisely one ex-co-worker from days of yore. We barely remember what we did there, but the memory of our mutual antipathy for a colleague, dubbed the Poison Pixie, remains indelibly etched in our memories.

“What a bitch!”

“Yeah, absolute moll.”

“She was some piece of work”


“So exactly what was it that we hated about her again?”

“Dunno. But she was a dead set cow.”


Some thirty years later and the Poison Pixie often laps me on a Saturday morning as I power amble around Albert Park Lake, and I still want want to punch her in the back of the head every time she passes.

I know, really mature.

I spent much of the first quarter of last year trying to launch D1 into the stratosphere. And when I say launch, I mean boot her out into the mean streets for life as a fully functioning adult. In one head spinning week, the child had donned the cap and gown for graduation, landed an entry level marketing position and moved into a share house.

Job done. Parenting win. *dusts hands

It had, admittedly, taken much of the remainder of the year to convince her that clothes washing is possible in a machine other than mine or that food preparation can be done by herself in her own kitchen. But, you know, baby steps.

At the end of the month D2 crashes back from another snow bound stint in the Massacheusetts backwoods with her girlfriend and their rescue dog. She is girding her loins for a return to Uni.

And I’m girding my loins for a return to chaos.

I couldn’t love D2 anymore if I tried, but dear god in heaven, the child is like pig pen from Charlie Brown.

pig pen

Her bedroom resembles an archeological dig. It took me weeks to make it a habitable spare room in her absence and I’m still finding coffee cups, odd socks, lip balm and hair ties. I swear they roll out of hiding when the coast is clear.

Her tactics for delaying the onset of complete adult autonomy currently rely on the necessity to save for a semester at a Swedish university later this year. She’s going to need a whole lot of Krona’s if she’s to live on more than lingonberries. Apparently Frozen elk costs a bomb.

Divine as D2 is, and truly, she makes my heart smile, there just comes a time when adult women need to be alpha’s of their own domain. Top dogs, if you will.


Top dog? Bitch, do you see this? I just went all Brutus on his arse. Well may you beware the Ides of March.  

For now, we will defer to the labrador and wait another year. It will be messy but never dull.

About Learning the hard way

Jane is of the belief that her life's purpose may well be to serve as a warning to others. She is unsure as to why she speaks in the third person...
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2 Responses to Working at being grown up

  1. Amileighness says:

    A pleasure reading your writings, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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