A reveller; a rake, a libertine; a person who stays up late at night (OED)

Mothers who want to foster their creativity while shoving food into hungry mouths, often start a freelancing career and quickly discover that they can work only for a couple of hours at a time without having to mediate a peace agreement between toddlers and pets. Inevitably, they become unintentional noceurs. Sleep-deprived revellers always on the brink of entering that hazy stage where ideas come as visitations and, if not written down swiftly enough, join the forgotten dust bunnies behind radiators. When not preoccupied with trying to make a living or feel awake, they search for their voices, become novel- or poem-whisperers for a few minutes after midnight.

Night-time reading is often fuelled by chamomile teas and chocolate digestives. The bliss of not having to update schedules of playdates, wipe dirty bottoms or memorise all the Premier League midfielders. The never-ending domestic to-do-lists disappear while the fairy godfather gets through the insurmountable piles of laundry.

None of them asked to have this one label pinned to their foreheads: mother-caretaker-PA-cleaner-chef-chauffer-dogsbody. Obedient toddlers, loving Scandinavian-looking boyfriends and the magic ability to whip up a Victoria sponge while finishing their fifth bestseller were part of the plan, not this being sweaty, exhausted and trying to have it all, all thanks to Working Girl and Margaret Thatcher. Olympic gold in time juggling is theirs but nobody is interested.

Funny how even their mothers failed to mention the price of feminism. Want to have a successful career in the City? Grand, go for it as long as you do not mind popping out your baby while you are still finishing an email at your desk, handing them over to a nanny or manny or partner or granny, seeing them sixteen years later, and wondering when that bundle of screams and goo has turned into a stranger with a booming voice and weirdly styled facial hair?

Fancy committing yourself to your children full time? Brilliant, imagine entering the grand old age without a pension, surviving on food banks and handouts while spending your fertile years relying on your partner to pay for everyone and everything, and coming to terms with them swapping you for a funnier and less nagging model at some point.

You are still convinced that you can be the first Superwoman to achieve it all? Then be prepared to live your life in halves. In a half-decent job that pays half-your salary while you are expected to manage fulltime workload and extra hours with the efficiency of a robot on subatomic steroids.

That’s not all. You will worry about your commitment to everything, including a stray sock. You will worry about money. Constantly. And you will worry that you are never there for your kids or that you get annoyed with them when they get sick because work is busy. You will be stuck between not loving them enough and smothering them with affection. And when you do not nag at the dog to pick up the crap after itself, you will cry into the pillow wondering how come that happy-go-lucky girl has been reduced to being a whinging cow. You will do none of the above very well. Most days you will feel grateful for what you have got. Some days you will dream of being hit by a bus.

So, when the dishes are still in the dishwasher and the food waste is growing a yet undiscovered strain of mould in the recycling bin, the working mothers are reclaiming this fancy word for themselves: noceur… with its promise of excitement and bohemian lifestyle. It will keep them awake in the hope that if they stay up and use their time wisely, they will one day crawl out of the sewers into a sunny meadow. They want to be able to say that they did it. They managed to have it all.

The rest of us will applaud them while chipping away and waking up from our slumbers with keyboard keys firmly pressed into our foreheads.

From the Language Hole HQ

  • I love listening to Something Rhymes with Purple. Words, words and more words with Suzie Dent and Gyles Brandreth. Bang-a-bonk anyone?
  • I love reading to Everything Under by Daisy Johnson– a dark tale of childhood memories entangled with family secrets and language.
  • I love watching Deutschland 86 – history, German, English… a linguist’s and history geek’s paradise.



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