Today is Nollaig na mBan – Women’s Christmas – the day on which women get a day off after all their work over the festive period. For me however, it was my first day of paid employment in nine months. Today I left Spud with a kind stranger and went to work.

It went alright. I ate a huge piece of cake this evening before sitting down to write. I’m tired of course, because I haven’t slept properly in months. But I think I’ve made the right decision. I hope.

Even if it wasn’t the end of my maternity leave, I’d be feeling reflective and pensive. I can’t resist a bit of looking back/looking forward in January (natch, as a classicist), particularly at the end of a decade. Part of me wonders what my selves from earlier decades would think of 30-something me. 20-something me would probably be disappointed that – despite a decade more education and training and experience – I’m still very pretty low down on the job ladder, and honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon. (It may have just gotten even more unlikely, as a European studying behaviour analysis *eyeroll*). Teenage me would probably be disappointed that I seem to have settled down – married, baby, house, worrying about what curtains to put in the front room. But 4-year old me? I think she’d be pretty impressed. Mostly because I’ve still got the teddy bear Santa gave her (it’s been through a lot). But also because yesterday I received kind messages from friends, reminding me that I could do this, and that my job is important and makes a difference. I have kind friends and I help people. Kid me, often friendless with a strong sense of injustice, would love that future.

And looking forward? Well, I got some strange looks in a lift the other day because I was wearing a badge emblazoned with lightning nipples and the motto “In the Future, all feminists will have nipple laserbeams”. The idea is mildly appealing. But despite everything this last decade has brought, I’m still the same person. I’m the sum of my experiences and memories and persectives. I am not going to “get my body back” or work on the “new me” or any shite like that. Not that I haven’t changed – or won’t – but more that the same person is there as well. We all contain multitudes, layers of self and soul bringing us right up to the moment. And so I’ll be the same old me, starting a new job, nervously making small talk with people I hope I’ll get on with, worrying about messing up. But I’ll come home to snuggles from the most amazing little chunk. That is something new – and wonderful. I’ve a long year behind me, and possibly a longer one ahead.

Better get an early night.