Something had to give…

And sadly, it’s been my blog. Juggling work, the kids, the activities and trying to ‘fit in’ again is taking its toll. Work is crazy busy, and like the majority of the world’s population, I wish there were a few more hours in the day to get things done.

The kids aren’t particularly happy with the current arrangement, particularly S. Despite settling nicely into kindy, he’s taken to barricading the door again when I leave the house in the morning. And if that doesn’t tug at the heartstrings, he greets me at the door in the evenings saying “I’ve been crying for you, Mummy.”

I think he’s feeling a bit insecure; he won’t go into rooms on his own anymore, he’s frequently checking to see where we are and when once he would go to bed and fall asleep in an instant, he now constantly comes out to check what we’re doing. I’m not sure what he’s feeling but he’s definitely worrying about something and can’t articulate it, the poor little love.

He still talks about “yesterday, when we were in Singapore…” Maybe he’s worried we’ll move again? Or perhaps he just wants his mum? Who knows what’s troubling a four-year-old?

The other two are fantastic with him. They play with him, they make him laugh and hugs are plentiful when he’s sad. They understand – they’ve lived through what he’s going through numerous times themselves. It seems that even if their memories of life overseas start to fade as they settle down here,  one thing has been ingrained into their being – a whacking great dose of empathy. They fight, they bicker, they tell tales on each other but despite all that, they still look out for each other.

It’s been a mad few months for us all and for the most part, I think we feel pretty settled, except for those times when we don’t… Sometimes, some days, there’s a little niggle of “what if we’d stayed..?” But it’s not so much for the country we’ve left, it’s the people you leave behind. And I think that’s how S feels. He still rattles off the names of the kids he was in pre-school over there with.

Anyway, the end is in sight; the project I’m working on will settle down (hopefully) in a few weeks, and life won’t be so hectic. We just need more time.




Mother guilt and the disconnect

“Mum…can you really work?”

When I announced to the minions that I had a job, the look of stunned disbelief I received was enough to send me headlong into morning peak hour traffic. How could they know so little about the person I was before they came along? It’s not like we’d never talked about it. Whatever the case, I was suddenly desperate to prove to them – and myself – that I could still make a positive impact in the workforce.

It took a few minutes, but finally the kids realised I wasn’t joking and yes, I was going back to work full-time. Everything went quiet, until a little, wavery voice broke the silence. “But we’ll miss you…”

The feeling was mutual. Apart from a few weekends away with the girls, I’d always been home with the kids. It was strange to think I’d be away from them now for large chunks of time over the next four months.

I must admit though, it felt great to be getting dressed up for work, knowing my clothes would survive the day without being used as a hankie. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t savour the half-hour train journey as I happily read my book without interruption, gleeful in the knowledge that I had another half-hour on the way home.

The guilt kicks in quickly though. A little niggle started from that first morning when I tried to leave the house. The kids blocked the doorway and then clung to my legs as I attempted to escape. The cries of “don’t go, Mummy” and “we’ll miss you” echoed in my ears as I rushed for the train. Was I doing the right thing? Personally and developmentally for me, yes. But given it was so soon after we’d moved, with so many changes already in their lives, maybe not? But it was a great opportunity, so why not? Guilty little arguments ran around my head for days.

And the guilt never stops. I’ve really enjoyed working again, but a few weeks in, I’m feeling a disconnect between their lives and mine. Hubby is doing a wonderful job, settling the kids into school, getting to know their friends, the teachers, and for the first time ever, I’ve not been involved in any of it. I’ve had to deflect questions about their after-school-activities to my husband and felt like such a bad mother for not knowing more than the vaguest of details.

Time is an issue now too. From the moment I leave the house, until I drag myself to bed, there’s hardly a moment to spare. Everyone wants a piece of your time when you get home and it’s hard to say no. The baking I used to do during the day is now done at night after bedtime stories and snuggles, and keeping up my writing is proving almost impossible.

Even now, as I’m writing my first post in weeks, I’m cooking pancakes, pouring apple juice and wondering what I’m going to feed the dinner guests we’ve got coming over tonight.

If nothing else, I think all of us – including the kids – have a new appreciation of everyone’s role in the household, both former and current. Whether you’re the breadwinner or the stay-at-home parent, both roles are not without their challenges and sometimes it takes a stroll in the other one’s shoes to work this out.

For now, I’ll keep peeling S off my leg in the mornings and rehashing the day with the kids in the evenings, trying to quash that niggling question of, “Am I doing enough?”

In the end, there’s only so much you can cram into each day, which I’m gradually coming to grips with. Which means right now, I’m trying to cram in only the stuff that matters. Easier said than done, but something to work towards.

An unexpected opportunity

“So, you’ll be back in October? We’ve got a project you might be interested in…”

I’d flown back to Melbourne for an awards night and was catching up with a good friend and old work colleague for a coffee and a chat.

“Sure,” I said, thinking nothing would come of it. How employable was I after ten years in baby boot camp? Certainly I can multi-task – heck, I’m doing it now as I blog – but to be considered again for a professional job? Really? No…but the seed was planted…and promptly forgotten when we started sorting out things for the move.

So imagine my surprise when shortly before we moved I received an email asking for my hourly rate, ABN number and an up-to-date CV. This could actually happen! I threw in a few clothes just in case I was called up for an interview and once again got lost in the world of packing.

A few weeks and a couple of calls later, I was staring in horror at my wardrobe, as I dressed for an interview. Why was there a hole in my dress? What  was wrong with my only pair of decent “work” shoes? Three years of humidity is rather harsh on leather and as I desperately tried to polish off the flaky bits, I hastily attempted to fix my dress. It wasn’t until I wobbled off towards the station that I discovered my heels had no caps on them anymore.

But to be on a train, heading into the city and having time to finally think about employment again, I realised how much of a confidence boost it was to be considered for a role.

I must admit though, I felt like a bit of a fraud as I skidded over the marble tiles to the reception desk. And as I sat there talking to my potential employer with a hand covering the torn dress and my shabby shoes firmly planted under the table, I felt like the poor cousin looking for charity.

Anyway, the interview went well and the role seems a bit like a new-and-improved version of my job 10 years ago. The people I’ll be working with are lovely and once I get over my confidence issue, I know I’ll be fine. The kids, however, weren’t too keen when I told them I’ll be working full-time for 14 weeks. Given the life we’ve led, working anything more than part-time from home wasn’t really an option for me. The kids have never given a moments’ thought that I might be the one to rejoin the workforce.

After the shock wore off, H fully embraced the fact that I’d have to go clothes shopping and as she teetered about in a pair of high, high heels, she confided that she felt “a little sad that I won’t be there during the day.”

There’s no doubt me working will be an adjustment for all of us, hubby included, but we’ll adapt – we always have.

So, feeling excited/nervous/flattered and incredibly grateful for the opportunity I start work on Monday and despite being excited/nervous/flattered, I can’t wait. Wish me luck!