a new chapter

I began this blog, as the name would suggest, after I became a mother. For those six years and two more before, I have worked for a single employer and been afforded the luxury of paid maternity leave (twice), flexible working hours and a decent salary.

When my first child was born, I wanted to do my best to be a committed and nurturing parent, but I soon realised that I had more sense of achievement and personal satisfaction from work. I was lucky enough to fall into a career that I enjoy and is creatively and professionally rewarding. I didn’t enjoy as some mothers do, being at home when my children were first born and was eager to get back to work. I often wonder about the psychology behind all this.

On the one hand, I feel guilty that I have focuses on myself to some extent instead of devoting myself more to my children. On the other hand, I want to show my children that my career is as important as their fathers and that the assumption shouldn’t always be that a woman should make all the sacrifices for family life.

Woman in the workplace are at an automatic disadvantage once they have children. Periods of leave while nurturing infant children, and then the entitlement to work part-time once they return (if lucky), means they miss out on opportunities. Many mothers I know work part-time. There is always a sense of needing to prove themselves. They overcompensate on the days they are there by fitting far more into their day than most.

A woman who returns to the workforce too soon or who devotes herself too much to work, is looked down on by society for being selfish. Instead of supporting each other and celebrating the freedom to make these choices, women often judge other women who make choices that are different to their own.


All this is going through my mind right now as I reach the end of a chapter in my life. After much deliberation and inner turmoil, I have decided to take up a new position where I will be working full-time. I have been through the pros and cons in my mind many times and have come to realise that the decision is made most difficult because of what it symbolises. I currently work four days a week, and have done so since I returned to work with both my children. Why then is it so hard to imagine working five days? Why has there been an assumption that I would (or should) request to work part-time at a new workplace?

Is it because it means that I am choosing to think of myself first above my children and family? Should I wait a few more years until my youngest is at school to see if another opportunity like this comes up?

I have made the decision to start a new chapter in my life because it is right for me and because I am important. My husband and children are also important, and decisions that impact on their future happiness and success will also be made with the same consideration.

new things

making sentences is so much fun!

The second week of school was just as tiresome as the first, if not more so. We were all a little wiser about the order of things, but the exhaustion by weeks end was much the same.

Aside from this, we had a good week. Scarlett has taken to learning all the things that kindy kids learn like a duck to water, but it has made me think about how little we encouraged these things before she started school. Sight words, sentences and punctuation were not really things we had spent time focusing on with her. The preschool we sent her to (and where her brother now goes) has a teaching philosophy based on self directed play and while there were some basic things, like scissor skills, pen grip and following a simple set of instructions, all this other stuff had not been a focus at all. Starting school, she could write her own name, and recognised most letters of the alphabet, but this last week, I’ve been amazed at how quickly she is learning sights word and forming sentences with them. Needless to say, we are extremely proud of her.

To add to all the changes going on at the moment, I’ve also had a new person start in my team at work. The reason the position was vacant is a whole other story (which I am quite upset and disappointed about), but the fact is there is an unfamiliar person working quite closely with me just seems to make my working life harder. Another thing I know will get easier with time.

Preschool drop off has not improved yet. I’ve tried reasoning (with a three year old!) and tried negotiating deals, but there are still tears each day as I leave my boy. He is going through a very peculiar stage at the moment. He is so in need of my attention and affection, but he also loves to challenge me to see how far he can push me. I must admit, that my fuse is never too long as much as I try to be calm with him. Yet another thing that I really hope gets easier some time soon.

starting school

stand up straight¬†Starting school is something I’ve thought plenty about over the past five and a half years. When Scarlett was younger, I wondered if she would be able to start school ‘early’ at four and a half since she was an August baby.

After her first year of preschool, I quickly realised that she was nowhere near ready for school, and didn’t even ask the question.

During her second year of preschool, she flourished. Under the guidance of a firm but caring teacher, she learnt that not everything could be done her way, and also learnt how to be confident and assertive in groups, overcoming her shyness a little.

Once she ‘graduated’ from preschool, I had no qualms about her readiness for school. That was until the week before she was due to start…

I got messages and emails from friends wishing me luck. Every person I saw asked me how I was feeling about it. It made me focus on it much more that I would have otherwise, and it made me anxious and confused.

Unlike some mothers, I never have those moments of longing or regret that the baby days are over. I don’t think back to my children being babies and wish I could go back. I am always excited and relieved to pass new milestones and don’t want to ponder the past too much.

on the way in
All this talk of how I would cope with my first child going to school made me wonder if I would be emotional. Would I be scared and not want to let her go? I did feel nervous on the day we were due to go. Had I remembered to label everything correctly? Had I ensured she had everything she needed? It was really more about if I was going to pass my first day as a school mum.

After we finally arrived for her first day of big school, I walked with her to the classroom, and before I had a chance to think, she had gone in and sat down with the class. I had to call her back so I could say goodbye and give her a kiss. I did not get teary or cry. I did not feel sad or worried for her – I was just relieved and proud.

She is a smart little girl who is confident in herself. She makes up her mind about (most) things for herself and is determined enough to see things through. While she has not gone into kindergarten with many close friends, I know she will make some when it suits her.

Now there is only the matter of my own insecurities… I have many mixed feelings about the incongruence of my desire to further myself in my career, and my want to be a ‘good’ mother and participate in my children’s school life.

scarlett & freyaTalking to other parents at school, I have discovered that (mostly) mums are expected to participate in school activities such as sporting events, helping with group work in class, canteen duty and more. As someone who works four days a week, I am not sure how much of this I will be able to commit to, yet I don’t want my child to feel that her parents are not as involved as others’ parents.

I guess it is something many parents have no choice in, and I am lucky that, for the moment, I have some flexibility to work ‘part time’. I am already starting to worry about two years down the track when my youngest starts school, when my right to work part time will no longer be a given, but a privilege. In the mean time, I guess I will have to learn to navigate each school term, and see where I can fit everything in…

tooth fairy

This morning my first born lost her first tooth. She’s all smiles!Image

In the weeks leading up to this point, as it progressively became looser and looser, I was  shocked to learn that I am squeamish when it comes to teeth! I never normally have any problems with bodily functions or fluids, cuts or bruises, but when I had my first peek into her mouth at the tooth, I felt nauseous.

I asked my other half to deal with the tooth situation, because I simply couldn’t do it. He had a look a few times, and even had a tug at it with a tissue, but to no end. Our daughter is very sensitive to even the slightest amount of pain, and the sight of blood sends her into hysterics.

All our anxiety about this tiny little tooth was set free this morning, as she screamed from the mirror ‘it’s gone, my tooth is gone”!! Nowhere to be seen, we suspect she swallowed it during the night. So tonight the tooth fairy shall pay her first ever visit to our house – even without the evidence she usually requires.

pillow talk

I realise it’s been a very long time…

I’ve been embroiled in a bad work situation, and a moody toddler for some months now, but feel like I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

To ease myself back into the swing of things, I’ll share a conversation I had with the above mentioned toddler at bedtime tonight.

After several attempts at leaving the room with him screaming and crying, I returned one last time. This time he was more tired and ready to give in. I asked if he was ready to say goodnight to me now, but he said he had been waiting for cuddles. I lay next to him with my head on his pillow, my arm across his back. He looks at me and says “I want you to stay here foreber (or forever).”

For all the heartache this little boy causes, he is such a little gem. I know all he wants is love and understanding. Sometime though, he has a funny way of expressing that.

 

new pad

My justification in getting it has to do with starting a uni course shortly, but I really think I’ll use it most for blogging and reading the paper!

I have been dreading going back to work for at least a week now. My new year’s resolution was to be more positive about the whole work situation and not let the situation reflect badly on me professionally. I certainly do plan to do that, but it is just the anticipation of being there that is difficult. 

Added to this, I have an awful lot of work to complete in a short time frame that I know willow be pleasant. I know in myself I will get it do me and be happy with the results, but I’ve got a long way to go baby.

I really enjoyed my summer break this year. We spend some much needed time with family and pottering around our house. I know once the work year resumes it will be crazy until Easter (when I plan to have some more time off to visit a new niece arriving around then and my other ices for their 1st/4th birthdays). 

I am eagerly awaiting the course outline for my first unit of the study I will undertake. I’m keen to see how I cope with it all as well as the usual load I endure. I really feel its important for me to do something like this for me. It’s been a while that I hasn’t been for the kids, family or husband. I have confident in myself, but I’m sure that will wane as it gets to assessment time.


 

nineteenth

Today was a busy day.

The kids had stayed at mum’s house so I drove up the mountain to pick them up. We then drove back down the mountain to meet some playgroup friends for one last get together before the end of the year.

I have known all of these children since they were babies. Seeing them all in a small group made me realise how grown up they all are!

After morning tea, we raced back up the mountain for a follow up hearing test for Scarlett. The last one found she had mild hearing loss in both ears and the specialist wanted to rule out a previous illness as the cause of this. I suspected, and it was confirmed, that this was not the case. 

I often wonder about my poor little girl. I wonder if something while I was pregnant happened to cause all the ‘problems’ she has had and continues to have. Currently, she is being treated for hip dysplasia, pre-precocious puberty, teeth problems and now hearing loss. She takes it all in her stride though, and I know that none of these things will have lasting effects on her, but I just wonder.

After our appointment we headed back down the mountain. Home at last. Just as I put dinner on the table and was looking forward to relaxing, Scarlett says “look, there’s a river outside our house”. She was right – it was flowing right down the side of our house and into our cellar door (which leads to the downstairs bedrooms). Holy crap, there was so much water.

Luckily the blocked drain at the top of the driveway was unblocked (by my beloved drowned rat) and the gushing water subsided, allowing us to clean up the mess that was left behind.

If it wasn’t for Scarlett, the kids may now be swimming in the bedrooms!

Now I am very tired.