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.

baking and being

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…

banana bread with coconut

And have also made some delicious Crunchy Lola Cookies

delightful crunchy Lola cookies

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?

excited to be writing her own words, each family member was asked what they like doings this evening

one week down

We have survived the first week of school. I was a little bit cocky in my last post – Scarlett had attended a total of two days of school and I was not working on either of those days – but the week ended up being far more taxing than I had expected.

one week down

Four days a week, I rise at the crack of dawn. On three of those days I have to leave the house an hour before my train is due to manage drop offs at OOSH and preschool. Early evenings are spent washing lunch boxes and preparing dinner, feeding and bathing the children, convincing them to go to bed, then re-packing lunch boxes for the next day. And that is only the logistics.

Scarlett not only needs to find her way at school, she also has OOSH three days a week – another new environment with older children to contend with. As a child whose parents work most days, she also has quite a lot of responsibility for a 5 year old:

  • remember to bring home your hat and jumper each day
  • take this note to your teacher and bring home any other notes in the note folder
  • take this slip with my credit card details on it and don’t drop it on the playground for other kids to find
  • Ditto to all for OOSH

This isn’t so easy when you also have to focus on learning all day. So far, she has left the hat and jumper left at school one day, the hat at OOSH another day, and the note folder at school every day. The payment slip never made it out of the pocket of her backpack.

For me, it has been hard to let go and trust her to take on this responsibility. Not being able to control as much as I could at preschool and having to keep calm about it all.

Xavier and I spent our first day alone together on Monday. We had a great day going to kindergym, a lunch date and to the park before picking Scarlett up from school.

lunch date with my boy

I thought this one on one time would make him feel more secure and make leaving on  preschool days a little easier, but it only seemed to make it worse. He spent half out day together telling me how much he loved me and how much he missed me when I was gone. Consequently, there were tears and heartbreak each day I left him at preschool each day. We are working on it, but it’s hard.

With all the emotional upheaval going on, I didn’t want all the logistics weighing me down even more. So I’ve tackled it the only way I know how – planning. I have been religiously menu planning for some time, but I’ve now added to this the school lunches and snacks.

menu planning

While my mornings are insane, hubby is picking the kids up of an afternoon and bathing them while I prepare dinner, and bedtime is a dual effort. I know it is only early days, but I know we will all get into the swing of things before too long. Heck, we only have another five hundred and thirty two weeks of school to go!*

*for Scarlett that is – add on another eighty two weeks if we’re including Xavier!

birthday party & a new leaf

Another party over and thanks goodness for that! I enjoyed creating the cakes, but the stress of pulling off a party of 17 kids + adults was almost too much.

Scarlett had invited some friends from preschool and was so excited by the spectacle of it all and being the birthday girl that I’m sure I’ll do it again next year. Xavier insisted he didn’t want to invite any friends from preschool because according to him, he plays by himself all day! Im sure that will change next year.

To top off a hectic weekend, my uni semester started on Monday. Even though I had already done the first two weeks readings ahead of time, I felt a tinge of anxiety at the work that lies ahead. After listening to the first lecture though, I know this semester is going to be a positive learning experience.

Work has also become a completely different place. The new manager has brought back some dignity to a team that has long suffered under mismanagement. After only three weeks, there is a sense of purpose and direction. While everything is under review, it’s not a negative experience when you are being taken on a journey instead of being out down.

There is still plenty to worry about, but at the moment the outlook is positive…

new things

 There has been lots going on this week. 

  1. I’m learning new things through my study
  2. My mum gave me an old sewing machine of hers 
  3. The incompetent fool I work for is leaving!

Yes you read correctly. After the turmoil he has caused in my life over the past nine months, he will soon be gone for good. Often in government jobs when someone is leaving, there are not really leaving but temporarily working in another area of the office or even the state. But this is the real deal. He’s moving to an entirely different body so there should be no worry of him coming back.

It’s safe to say that I am over the moon. No matter what happens in the office now, it will be an improvement of the current situation. Full stop. 

Now for the sewing machine. I’m the only female in my family who can’t see. My mum has been an amazing seamstress since she was a young girl. Growing up quite poor, she quickly realised she could sew whatever she wanted for a fraction of the cost of buying it. She’s made many things for me, it most notably, my wedding dress. I cherish it. She also made my older sister’s wedding dress and was an assistant for my younger sister who is also gifted when it comes to sewing and knitting. 

I’m a bit scared. The first thing Scarlett said when I told her we were being given a machine was “great mum, now you can make me a wonder woman cape and a superman cape for Xav”. I don’t even know how to use the thing!

Mum gave me a quick crash course when she brought it over and today I had a great idea. After being disappointed that the stall that sells doll clothes at the market wasn’t there, I thought maybe I should give it a go. I used the off-cuts of the delightful Merimekko fabric from my (oversized) bedspread. I took the time to cut out a little baking paper pattern and pinned it to the fabric. I cut I tout and attempted to sew it together. It didn’t turn out well. 

I got quite frustrated at not being able to do it. I put quite a lot of thought into so I thought it would work how I envisaged. Then I thought for a minute. How am I supposed to just know how to do these things? I’ve never really spend the time watching mum, and if I had, I’d know that she always has a pattern to guide her. 

So I’ve decided to stay positive. I’ve downloaded the sewing machine manual and some free easy patterns, and once I get myself some fabric, I’ll give it another shot. Scarlett (and Betty the doll) were still quite happy with the outcome. I guess it beats the last dress I made her. It was made out of paper and sticky tape…

 

zucchini heaven

It’s been a busy week. It’s a crazy to me of year at work, I’ve officially started studying and all the usual stuff that comes with having children and a husband.

I feel kind of exhilarated to be learning about new things. Well not entirely new, but looking at things in a new light. It’s given me a renewed interest in my work as well. That is definitely a good thing, because the way things were going before Christmas, I felt like quitting. I’ve still go the same bunch of morons to work with (and some new additions to the boys clubs), but I feel as though my study will arm me with some secret weapon that I will later use again all of them. Plus I feel like I’m doing some good creative work at the moment, it’s all on close deadlines, and the adrenalin is keeping me on a high for now.

Away from work, I’ve been deserted for the week. My other half is away at a week long intensive school for the uni course he just started. I am fine by myself. I am capable of looking after myself and the kids and the dog, but it’s a little longer than I’m used to. 

To start my week off on a good note – Monday is the only day I don’t work – I’m having a few friends over for morning tea. I’ve been baking all afternoon with some help from my smallest helper Xavier. Often it’s Scarlett who won’t leave my side during the baking process, but today she was happy to watch a movie while Xavier and I baked cakes. We made some chocolate cupcakes for the kids, but the grown ups will be tantalised by My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe. Another amazing recipe from 101cookbooks.com and just as delicious as the last. 

It’s unconventional – zucchini, poppyseeds, lemon rind and curry powder!!! – but it’s delicious. As usual, I did some substitution – adding pecans instead of walnut – because I was too lazy to go to the shops. 

Here’s hoping the coming week goes smoothly. The roof won’t leak, the drains won’t get blocked and the kids will be angels.surely not too much to ask?

first week

 This week the kids and I have gone back. Back to work and back to preschool.

I started the week anxious about what lay ahead. I couldn’t sleep the night before my return – the anticipation just got to me. 

It wasn’t so bad.

Today the kids went back to preschool. Xav has moved up a room and all of Scarlett’s mates have gone off to big school, so it was a big adjustment for both of them.

Within minutes of arriving, Scarlett had found the craft table and created this masterpiece with the bits and piece on the table. I LOVE it!

There was a little separation anxiety when we left, but the fact they stay together oh the same room for the morning was very helpful (both emotionally and practically).

As for me, I’ve taken on a new found enthusiasm for organisation (so many great apps for this) and taken a bit of a lead in getting things done (with or without direction from above) and am feeling pretty confident.