You’ve made it. Congratulations it’s the end of the week, and you’ve survived another five-day stint of seemingly relentless commuting, clock-watching, meetings, emails, pointless interruptions, impossible deadlines, and nit-picking colleagues.
You should be jumping for joy. You should be joining in with the gossiping colleagues. Or sweeping out the door at 4:59pm to head for the nearest pub.
Cocktails. Happy Hours. Pints in plastic cups on the pavement. Bar snacks. Dancing in office clothes at 4am. They all belong to someone else’s Friday Feeling because for you those days are long gone. Repeat. Long gone.
You are approaching middle age and have a child.
This means that for you 4pm incites instant panic that you have only done half the work you needed to do and have no option other than to take your work home with you because you have a train to catch and a child that needs collecting.
So you frantically print out some files only to discover that the printers aren’t working – like none of them. You give up and you just leave.
You arrive at your platform with three minutes to spare until your train departs, and you board your train.
That Friday Feeling is edging closer. You’re heading home and you’re actually, quite possibly beginning to relax. You whip out your book – commuting isn’t all bad after all – but the carriage is loud. Really loud.
It seems everyone else on the train has that Friday Feeling. Loud American accents make plans. Office workers enjoy banal conversations about weekend activities. Couples talk on the telephone about what wine they’ll drink with their takeaway. You can’t read; you can’t think; you can’t breathe. Shut up, Shut up, Shut up, you scream silently in your head.
You get off the train and run across the park to your son’s school. The sun is shining, the evening is pleasant, and you’re almost home and dry. You look forward to seeing him but the first thing you notice is that his jacket is missing. You go on a wild goose chase around the school but it is nowhere. You wouldn’t mind but it’s the second one to go missing this week.
You have a five-minute walk to the car but it turns into a ten-minute walk because he is tired and he hasn’t quite worked out that moving faster gets you to a restful point quicker than moving slowly does. Slowly is putting it kindly; glacial would be more accurate. The supposed short-cut is an adventure trail to him. Why walk swiftly and in a straight line on the path when you can investigate bushes full of nettles, or wander across grass in zig zags, or kick a stick around on the spot for several long trying minutes.
The thing is you both want the same thing – to go home and to eat and to sleep – but you both have very different ways of expressing that.
Your car pulls up outside your home and you almost begin to feel satisfied. Almost. You just want to get inside but he is too tired to move. You hold the door open for him for what feels like an eternity and then he decides to clamber to the front and exit through an alternative door. No biggie.
You put your key inside your front door and sigh. You dump what feels like the hundred bags you’ve accumulated during the day and you rush to the toilet. Your bare skin grazes the cold porcelain and you hear “I’M HUNGRY.” You try not to snap back but you do.
You make tea and you have to make do with the scraps in the cupboard because you couldn’t face going to a supermarket on a Friday with a tired and hungry six-year-old. So you don’t even have wine or treats or anything to give you that Friday Feeling. You do remember that you have some fake Bounty bars from Aldi in your fridge but you only have one left and no prizes for guessing who’ll have that.
Your brain is too tired to cope with anything taxing so you use the screen as a babysitter and make a cup of tea to sit down and watch the soaps before it’s his bedtime. Except Corrie has been replaced by the Rugby World Cup and for the first time ever your son wants to have a shower which means you will have to postpone sitting down with a cup of tea for a little longer.
His bedtime beckons but his hair needs drying and you end up pointing your hairdryer into the air as he bounces on your bed with a football pretending he’s the goalie for Bayern Munich. Once again a quick job doubles in time.
It’s bedtime for him and your favourite part of any night. You read and he asks for more and you oblige because you’re so tired you’re not sure you’ll ever be able to get out of his bed. You chat and your conversation topics span from death to weekend plans to imagining what it would be like to have 20 hands. No different from a Friday night in the pub really.
And finally you head for your sofa. You flick through the channels and you have a choice of rugby, a programme about people watching TV, a film about a lapdancer starring Christina Aguilera and Cher, and a French drama with subtitles. You have no wine.
You opt for the French drama. You last five minutes before you start falling asleep. You go to bed.
And then it finally hits you – that Friday Feeling. You don’t have to switch on the alarm clock. You actually, truly, and properly relax. Monday seems a lifetime away and you fade into a lovely warm and fuzzy sleep.
You wake up. You panic at first thinking you’ve slept in for something, forgotten to drop a child off somewhere, or missed an appointment. But then you realise it’s Saturday, and it feels fantastic. Until you hear “Muuuum-eeeeee”.
You wouldn’t swap it though.