Today is my birthday. I’m thirty six and just realised just how quickly the last 6 years have gone! Six years ago I celebrated my birthday expecting my first child. I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the changes this child would enforce on me. And yet, I cannot imagine my life had these changes not occurred.
It’s been an extremely busy couple of weeks. Still getting into the swing of doing the whole school thing, I now feel a little more relaxed about it all and not so frightened of forgetting to pack lunch or return notes on time. Scarlett has settled in to OOSH a little better, and Xavier has stopped crying when I leave him at preschool, instead adopting an awkward little sad wave goodbye. Lots of cuddles resolve any ill feelings at night.
I have been insanely busy at work lately, which I have come to realise has made me a little on edge at home, but I am trying to be conscious of it and keep things in perspective. Even though at times I feel that I am not achieving anything much, I am lucky enough to have a boss who reassures me that I am, and appreciates my efforts.
After an extremely long week (having attending a music festival and two gigs), I am just grateful to stay home today (in my pyjamas) and do the things that make me happy. Presents in bed, breakfast made by someone else, lounging around and baking. Today I have made good use of some bananas that were going bad…
But what I am enjoying right now, is listening two my delightful children playing ‘schools’ downstairs. Scarlett, being so excited about learning new things at school, has decided to start her own letter lessons for toddlers such as her brother. I wonder if she will become a teacher one day?
Today I spent the day baking with my mum. For as long as I can remember, my mum has made the most delicious biscuits each christmas. There is her famous almond bread, hazelnut logs, almond crescents and pistachio pears.
As my sisters an I got older, we started to pitch in and began helping out each year. For several years now though, both my sisters have been living in another state, so it’s just mum and I. This year it was I who approached mum to get the day organised.
There is something very special about baking with a mission. Not just baking one cake or a batch of cookies, but to tackle the sum of baked goods we plan each year requires organisation and hard work. For six straight hours we each moved from one task to the next. Grinding, beating, mixing, moulding, baking, dusting, drizzling. Today we barely stopped to eat lunch or have a cup of tea.
The results were worth it.
Aside from the copious amounts of baked goods I returned home with today, I also left with a great feeling. Mum and I had spent the whole day working, but also chatting and just being together which has been a rare thing this year. We talked about kids, work, health, religion, education, discipline and being women. I’ve suggested we do it more often. We have a lot to talk about.
Today was the first official visit to big school for our first born child. I hadn’t thought much of it until today, only concerning myself with preparing her for what to come. As we walked in the gate to the school I felt a little anxious. For her, for me, for all of us.
As outspoken and crazy as she is at home, our girl is a tad shy in group situations. Never one to assert herself when big personalities are around, she quietly sits back taking everything in and then makes her judgement once she feels comfortable.
When we arrived and found the other preschool kids there were several she knew from preschool. I sighed with relief, but she was anything but relaxed. She was reluctant to interact with her friends preferring instead to stay by out side.
As the year 5 buddies started circling looking for their kindy kids I was sure there would be resistance or maybe even tears. There wasn’t. A lovely boy named Jem (who we had mistaken for a girl from the letter we received in the mail due to his long hair, feminine features and ambiguous name) came to find Scarlett. He was jovial and friendly but as he approached I was nervous. He introduced himself, asked her name and then took her hand. Off they went went without a second thought.
I was so proud and relieved that she went without a fuss. I was so worried about her being too fragile or shy to participate, but she certainly proved me wrong. Seeing her participate in the school parade, seeing her watch and listen intently to the band and choir gave me confidence.
I’m sure she will be fine starting school next year, but will I?
On Saturday night we went out for dinner with friends in Glebe. A rare night away from the kids, we made the most of it by staying in a guest house for the night and had an all nighter. We got kicked out of a pub (at closing time, not because of our behavior) that boasted this sign out the front!
I held a stall at the Baby & Kids Market in my area over the weekend. Let’s just say I’m exhausted. I spent the week prior ironing, packing, marking and making signs for my table. I had so many baby things I wanted to get rid of that had been piling up in my shed that I just wanted to clear away.
Since my mission was to have a clean out and not necessarily make a heap of money, I put a low price on all my things and am happy to say I sold almost all my stuff! What I didn’t sell I put in the vinnies bin so now it’s really ALL gone.
The event was a sort of culmination of events this past week that have made it really feel like my baby days are over – and not in a bad way! I feel so relieved that I no longer own a breast pump, baby sling or nappy bag (as such, although every handbag I own is now large enough to fit at least two nappys and wipes inside). I saw all those pregnant women and women with very small babies and didn’t feel envious of them in the slightest. I felt like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
In keeping with the no more babies rule of the house, within two days I also took away Xavier’s high chair and cot! It wasn’t really planned that way, but it just happened which I think may have helped – there was no anxiety on my part about if it would ‘work’ so it just did. Xav is now happily in a booster seat making a mess at the table with the rest of us and sleeping soundly (sideways) in a big bed with a side rail.
I do feel quite guilty about all this. I feel that I shouldn’t admit to how happy I am to be rid of all babies and baby things from my house. I feel like it make it sound like I don’t love my children (or didn’t). I do, it’s just that I found the baby stage very difficult.
I know that as time marches on, I will look back on this time more fondly and perhaps even wish I hadn’t wished it away so much. I’m sure when they are teenagers and causing me grief, I will long for the innocence they once had, but for now I am happy to look forward to them becoming their own little people. Feisty ones at that!
Today I visited North Sydney for a work event and was taken back in time when I visited an old workplace.
It had always been a very male dominated work place (in the publishing industry) and from the lack of females there, it seems it still is.
Being the only female and most qualified person in the production team, I was often humiliated when I was asked to fetch coffee for visiting clients. I was grossly underpaid, over worked and would go home crying often. The whole environment was very stressful and unrewarding.
Today as I sat in the managing director’s office having a chat (I was warned he was on a bad mood before going in), I wondered what my life would be like had I stayed there.
If I had decided to have children I would have had to resign or come back to work after a short period of unpaid leave. I would not be afforded flexibility in my work arrangements and I would not have any compassion when having to take weeks off work for a sick child.
All this was going through my head as we exchanged pleasantries, then he thought he’d ask me (always thinking of his business and how he can exploit people) if I had any ‘spare’ time to do extra design work. I felt like laughing at him and telling him that I wouldn’t work for him even if he made me a partner in the company.
Business people (particularly men) like him can’t see the need for work/life balance. Even if he did, he would still trade it off for profits.
So why on earth would I visit if this was the very place that made me vow to work in the public sector? Well my dear friend Zav who I have kept in contact with all these years is my only reason. Seeing him and having a chat and a coffee made it worth all the ill feeling and contempt I feel for the place!!