I am 34 years old and have no interest in having children. No part of my life has ever been consumed with imagining the pitter-patter of tiny feet or adding nursery décor to my Pinterest boards or stuffing a pillow up my jumper to see what I might look like if I were pregnant. For me, pregnancy has always been a bit gross, childbirth has always been a terrifying prospect and the rearing of offspring has always seemed like an unacceptable sacrifice of my time, energy, ambitions and personal space.
Here we are, expecting our first baby in September.
“Surely not!” I hear you cry. “You always said that having two pubs and 60 members of staff was more work than a child! You always said there was no time to have a kid! You said that you’d rather spend all your money on exotic holidays than baby stuff!”
Alas, dear reader, that is all still true. I promise I wasn’t lying. All of the reasons why we shouldn’t have a baby are still exactly where they always have been. We haven’t necessarily mitigated any of them, but we have learnt not to pay as much attention to them all.
So why am I telling you this? In March, we had our 12 week scan and immediately afterwards I sent an email to every single member of staff to tell them our news. There were some close family and friends who already knew – a necessity of some early day complications – but aside from them, our team were the first people we wanted to break the news to.
In that email, we wrote: “We wanted to let you guys know first because, initially, you are generally the people we see the most of and, secondly, we couldn’t be doing this without the support network of all of you guys nailing your jobs and looking after our business for us.”
It’s time to stop putting the rest of our life on hold for work and start thinking about what we have been working so hard to enjoy about life.
And that’s really what it comes down to. We had reached a place at both the Fleur de Lys and at The Bulls Head where we knew our staff had well and truly got our back. They’re self-sufficient. They don’t need us micromanaging their every move. Of course they’re not perfect and of course we’re always going to keep an eye on them, but we finally realised that they could take care of business for us.
We have poured every ounce of ourselves into Clogginns Pub Company to make our business the best possible version of itself that it could be. We’ve worked solidly to create a business that isn’t tied to any corporation or beholden to any other management. We’ve slogged our guts out to do something beyond the 9-5, to be part of the communities that we work in, to not feel like every working day is groundhog day. But what is the point in doing that if it all rests on your own shoulders?
At some point the phrase ‘you don’t buy a dog and bark yourself’ became a mantra. At some point after that, we realised that not only were our dogs all barking, but they were running around wagging their tails, getting a fuss and enjoying their lives. Ok, the metaphor might be stretching somewhat thin there, but you get my drift. Our hard work meant that we had created a team of talented people who could get the job done.
That meant we had finally achieved the dream of having a flexible life. If we didn’t have to spend the first four hours of our day doing admin, chores and repair jobs before a 12-hour shift on the bar and then another couple of hours of admin after closing time, we could actually do some of the other things in life that ‘normal people’ do. It was time to stop putting the rest of our life on hold for work, and start thinking about what we had been working so hard to enjoy about life.
I’m not sure either of us ever really had the specific idea that a child was the answer to that question, but I do know that we both felt that we’d like to know what the world would be like with a mini-us in it. More than that, it was the sensation that we finally had the freedom to choose to give it a go and that we have the capacity to give our all to bringing up a child in this mad, mad world we find ourselves in. Up until now, it had been unconscionable to try and contemplate what our lives would look like with a kid in it. Now? Well, we still don’t have a plan and we’re making it all up as we go along, but we sure are excited to figure it out and see how Baby Cloggins fits in to the grand scheme of things.
If nothing else, at least we know that 16 years from now we’ve got a new potwash starting in the business…
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Slowly but surely you helped to breathe life back into the place. You filled it up with love and laughter. You have dragged it back from obscurity to place it back into the heart of the community.
Like so many others, we got into this trade because we love sharing these little boltholes with others and watching you enjoy them and make memories to cherish between these walls. We do it because we like a bit of banter whilst pouring a beer. We’ve always believed in doing the best we can with the circumstances we’ve got.
Time to whip up a quick homemade soup with whatever veggies you’ve got in your fridge.