Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It would be fair to say I get around job-wise. Throughout my illustrious working career I have had the opportunity to experience so many roles – some wonderful; some not so much. The following has turned into a bit of a novel so I’ve split it into two: BCH (Before Crap Happened) and ACH (think you can figure what that stands for). Brace yourselves.

I find myself on yet another “step-to-the-right” in the dance laughingly called my ‘career path’ (more like drunken stagger) – still at the same workplace but using a different, more technical skill-set to the administrative/marketing role I’ve been filling for the past 18 months. I’m a little nervous but mainly excited about it but if you look at the experiences I’ve had over the past *cough* wee while, there’s many things I’ve already done that should help me pick it up and run with it fairly quickly.

My working career (outside of the usual after-school shenanigans) started way back in 1991 as a Coles Deli Assistant, working my way up to 2IC (which just meant I got the lucky task of coming in super-early on a Monday morning to get the rotisserie chickens cranking and set up the cabinet for the week and do the scale report to make sure we weren’t diddling the customers). Then we moved to Sydney, added a second baby to the family and I began my library studies, which led to the first twist in my path.

Had a lady haughtily demand EXACTLY 1kg of sausages “No more; no less, young lady!”. My face probs looked like his.

After moving all over the country, we landed in a small town in WA, where (on the second attempt) I became Library Officer at the Primary School two of my three kids attended (yep, quite a gap there between paid jobs). I loved this job dearly and it’s still the longest stint in one workplace in the same role (4 years). It was pretty perfect – school hours and school holidays but none of the responsibilities of a teacher (poor sods – I have so much respect for teachers from my time working with them in schools) as well as the pleasure of scouring through reviews to pick all the books.

I vividly recall reading the review for “Harry Potter and the Philosophers’ Stone” and knew it would be a hit but was unsure if it would be too hard for the kids (poor town; struggling/itinerant families; lots of behavioural issues). I ordered two copies, thinking if nothing else it would be perfect for teachers to read aloud and ended up having a waiting list of kids clamouring to read it and having to buy a few extra copies to keep up with demand. The second time I remember purchasing a book as part of my role and thinking “This is gonna be HUGE” and being proven right was for – you may know it – the first in a 4 part series called “Twilight”.

The cover in the review I read for “Twilight”. Weird, huh.

During this time I also was a casual Woolworths Cash Office Administrator on weekends. I scratch my head at this memory, wondering why on earth I did this, with three kids and already working five days a week – then I remember the expectations and mindset I was living under at the time and it makes sense. Taught me to count money real fast and honed my OCD for all notes facing the same way in neat and tidy bundles.

New town in a new state, and of course the school system was different – I had to be a teacher to work in a school library – and the local Public Library was not going to be hiring any time soon. After a brief and terrible stint as a Learning Coordinator for a state government funded adult learning centre (which didn’t actually have a building for the centre – just a room in another state government funded centre which just made it all sorts of awkward and complicated), I got lucky, scoring a job as a part-time Typesetter/Graphic Designer at the local newspaper, with no prior experience apart from the fact I was comfortable with computers, could spell and had done a module of study in my library technician’s diploma on colour design and basic formatting of promotional collateral.

We hid a coworkers’ Bionicle that sat on his computer and sent him ransom notes with accompanying Bionicle parts as part of regular newspaper office shenanigans. He was most displeased with us.

After a time I did manage to get a position as a casual Library Officer at the local library, covering shifts on Saturdays and sometimes their one late opening night per week. It was a good gig. I was studying for my Bachelor of Library Science at the time (while still working at the newspaper cause apparently I had 35 hours in a day back then), so it gave me great opportunities to put theory into practice and vice versa.

I almost blanked out the three years I spent as Library Technician for the local TAFE college after leaving the newspaper to do some full-time (but short-lived) study for a teaching degree (that’s a whole other post in itself). TAFE was a great learning experience as my manager was a great mentor willing to share her years of experience with me. Sure, she was the quintessential cranky librarian and scared the bejesus out of most people but she treated me very well … and she was so nice to my kids (as well as being a complete push-over with her own. Softie at heart.) that I couldn’t not like her. But working for State Government was a long, slow death and I did not want to slowly evolve into the quintessential cranky librarian.

How I imagine I’d look now if I’d stayed …

So I left full-time employment at a very decent government pay rate and moved onto the local Catholic High School as a part-time Library Officer … not sure how I passed the interview with regards to religious beliefs for that one but somehow I did. It was ridiculously low pay for a fully qualified librarian at $15 an hour but I loved the school ethos – they really cared about their students – and of course, the kids were great to work with.

But then … the “eccentric” (i.e. batshit crazy) … library manager at the Public Library left, which led to my next big break.

As Library Manager in a regional library service – one main branch, one teeny-tiny little room in a very interested area known as the Gemfields – I had the responsibility of managing staff for the first time as well as being accountable for a substantial budget. Exciting, scary and very difficult at times but I loved every minute of it … ok, not the minutes I had to ‘have a talk’ with certain persons for upsetting the applecart every time they walked into the place … but the rest of it was great. Honestly, after the last manager’s crazy antics and passive-aggressive management style, I did not have to do much to look fantastic – and I thank her for that, wherever she is.

Then Peter Beatty did his thing and ruined my perfect little life in more ways than one. This career sidetrack led me straight up Poop Creek and onto Poop city …

That’s not how you flip an entire state the bird, Pete.

After March 15 2008 (yep, I still remember the date), the council I was working for was amalgamated with three other surrounding shires into one giant mega-council. It covered an area of roughly 60,000 sq. kilometres with offices spread out at roughly one-hour-drive intervals from each other. That and the fact each office had its own unique culture made it seriously dysfunctional Due to the necessary restructure, I was offered the role of Manager Community Services. To this day, I’m not sure why. I guess I’d proved myself capable of management to a degree in the previous 8 months as Library Manager.

Just managing the shenanigans of the library service growing from 2 branches to 10 would have been enough challenge. But instead I had to take on Community Services, a portfolio which included libraries, pools (dear god, I shudder just thinking about pools), halls, art galleries, aged care facilities, youth facilities and – best of all – community groups. I want to say it was THE WORST decision I ever made but circumstances being what they were at the time, I felt I had no choice but to accept. Nine months later, I had what you could nicely refer to as “a spiritual awakening” but what most people would call a nervous breakdown. Even though my heart knew I really shouldn’t have taken that job, the advantage of hindsight shows that I actually learnt a lot and grew so very much from that complete and utter personal and professional smackdown of an experience. Let’s just call it a Turning Point and leave it at that.

#Accurate

While I was recovering sufficiently to be able to deal with the stresses of a ‘normal life’ again, Lady Luck smiled upon me and I found myself working from home as a Freelance Proofreader for a friend, proofing advertising collateral for various big name companies. Not a huge amount but enough to give me ‘pin’ money and help my severely battered self-esteem compose itself. It also gave me a taste for the freelance life and I really liked it.

But life was about to deal a few shockers and I was going to need more regular work … (to be continued)

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Letting my hair down …

Last Thursday evening I finally treated myself to a slightly belated “F*&k it, I’m 50” hair overhaul, getting the length chopped off to just under the chin and a warm reddish brown recolour that included little red slashes here and there for dramatic effect.

I haven’t actually had a hair pampering since we left Australia 3.5 years ago, instead “surviving” on the $30 walk-in; walk-out hairdresser at The Warehouse and grocery-bought DIY hair dye kits. Needless to say I really soaked up the 2 hours of chatting with the hairdresser, reading a mag, sipping on wine and generally just enjoying the “me” time.

There’s a couple of reasons I haven’t done the usual 6 – 8 weekly proper hairdresser cut/dye visit:

  1. Money
  2. Busy
  3. The pain of finding a decent hairdresser

Of all of them, it’s probably Number 3 that has truly kept me away this long. I have learnt from bitter experience that it’s pretty tough finding a new hairdresser that doesn’t cost the earth; who actually listens to what you want AND knows how to cut your hair so you’re not praying for it to grow overnight or for hats to suddenly come into fashion.

The Warehouse lady has usually been sufficient but the last two visits … I dunno .. it’s like she’s lost her touch. The last visit in particular I asked to keep the length so I could have the option of an ‘up-do’ for the Princess’s wedding (yes, my eldest child is now a married woman! But that’s another blog post altogether …) and just put a few layers in there to lighten it up and give a bit of movement to it.

I may be slightly exaggerating here but the end result kinda felt like this …

Thankfully, I don’t feel like I’m channeling Joe Dirt or Warwick Capper anymore. But now I’ve found a lovely hairdresser, that’s it. I’m committed to a regular relationship every 2 – 3 months (depending on how long I can push it out for/finance levels/time restraints).

Lucky I did well in my recent performance review at work …

Time and Space for Creativity

Bottom half of a boho dreamcatcher with flowers and feathers
The last time I was really creative …

I haven’t posted an update for so long as its finally dawned on me that you need time and space to be creative. And I just don’t have it. Or at least what precious little I do have, I’m busy numbing myself to cope with the time and space I don’t have.

Let me explain …

I was going to actually total up all the time I spend working at a full time job plus the daily commute plus home duties (thankfully assisted greatly by NIH where Little Miss is concerned) then add in the night-time shenanigans of putting her back to bed from midnight til 3am on average but that is just too bloody depressing.

Let’s just say a full time job plus a toddler who doesn’t sleep leaves me with precious little mental ‘space’ for creativity.

I starting thinking about this post a few weeks ago – then the shit hit the proverbial with illness on the home front and whatever small space I was going to allow myself to try crafted a halfway intelligent post vanished.

So here I am (waiting for AA to come and reboot our car battery because life wasn’t finished being a complete and utter bitch obviously) trying to spew out what is *really* bothering me about not being creative for the last 6 months or so. And it all boils down to this: Joy.

Creativity brings you joy. And life at the moment feels rather bereft of it.

Work is a bit of a mess of three different role responsibilities that have me trying valiantly to make sure I don’t drop any balls whilst surviving on broken sleep for I can’t even fucking remember how long. I can see the mistakes popping up and it breaks my perfectionist little heart and I just pray that workmates don’t think I’m a complete idiot but in all honesty, I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing most days.

Home is fine except for the fact that a toddler is always going to be an emotional stretch … but I can feel the physical and spiritual effects of not sleeping an uninterrupted 8 hours – damn, I would settle for even a 6 hour block – for over 2 years taking its toll on me.

Money is real tight, thanks to having a mortgage back home still to pay while we hope and pray the house will finally sell. Rent here is much higher than Australia and pay rates are so much lower so that puts us even more behind the 8-ball. I mean, we still manage to pay our bills on time and buy groceries and have leftover cash for a breakfast out each weekend so it’s not completely dire … it’s just extra stress on top of an already stressed-out mind.

Whatever time and space I do have, I play puzzle games on my phone.

I know, right?

I was trying to figure out why I do that the other day and something Brene Brown said in her Netflix appearance helped me understand. (Yes, I have become a convert. Yes, I have downloaded and listened to her book “Daring Greatly”, which I think is why I’m doing all this self-analysis again. Yes, I am probably going to mention her frequently from here on out.)

She was talking about how her first TED talk went viral and she found it so hard to handle that she spent a day at home with the peanut butter jar and a spoon, watching the complete series of “Downton Abbey” (if I didn’t love her for making sense of courage and vulnerability, I would have loved her for that alone). And after it was over, she started googling facts and figures from that era and hit on Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech about the man in the arena and the rest, as they say, is history.

She asked the audience something along the lines of :

“Who-all [cause she’s from Texas] has done that?”

“You’re numbing yourself with a show or a movie and you’re not ready to step back into the real world when it’s over so you start searching for related stuff on the internet?”

Ahh.

I play the games to numb myself. To just switch off and ignore the stresses in my life – of which I do acknowledge there could be far more and perhaps I’m just tired and a tad whiny today. Someone should put me to bed.

And because of the numbing plus the stresses, I just don’t have the time/space/energy to be creative anymore.

If I really want some more joy in my life, I think this needs to stop.

The Flop Factor

I know it’s smart to start getting regular mammograms done once you turn 45 but what with getting teenage boys over the finish line to adulthood, getting remarried, getting IVF, getting pregnant then having a baby (what seemed like) permanently attached to the ‘girls’ for 18 months, I found it hard to find the time … until last Friday.

Despite having a close friend who had a brush with breast cancer and knowing all the stats, I didn’t actively seek out a mammogram once all my excuses had dried up (so to speak). However, a simple throat infection and a visit to the doctor about a month ago saw me put firmly on the Breast Screening list and lined up for an appointment.

Now I’d heard a few reviews regarding mammograms, particularly with the words “extreme discomfort” and “mashed boobs” featuring regularly so I was prepared for a bit of pain. Imagine my surprise when it was all over bar the shouting in a few minutes with the only discomfort coming from trying to hold my breath AND my stomach in at the same time.

Which has me wondering … is there a Flop Factor at play here? I can imagine if your fun bags are nice and firm and well adhered to your chest area that it might be a little harder to get them in between the two panels and the pressure may be more easily felt than say if your boobs, once let loose of their wire-reinforced hammocks, kinda oozed onto the bottom panel and obligingly made squishy under the top one so the radiologist could snap a clear shot with ease.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve experienced REAL breast-related pain – those first few weeks of breastfeeding where I truly feared my nipples would just drop off due to struggles with latching then the last few weeks of breastfeeding where I truly feared my nipples would be clean bitten off due to an overzealous, teething toddler.

After that, a little clamping between two plates is more like a walk in the park … just with your shirt off.

End of an era

For the first time in almost 2 years, I wore a non-maternity bra to work today.

It feels a little sad …

She’s not happy about it but the fact of the matter is the stress of working full time and feeding less during the day has taken its toll and no amount of night time snacking is going to fix that.

Add to that a diet change and voila – what little milk supply was there has pretty much gone.

She’s nearly 17 months. It’s the longest I’ve breastfed a baby for.

We’ve had a good innings but I can see the end in sight and whilst part of me rejoices at having my body back (and part of NIH rejoices at the prospect of having HIS particular area of amusement back), part of me weeps.

It’s truly the end of an era.

Baby knows what she wants

We’ve been learning then teaching Little Miss some sign language in the hopes that it would make it easier for us and her to communicate better. You know, because she’s a baby who can’t talk yet but by gum, she certainly has a mind of her own and it’s handy to know what she wants at times!

It’s been an interesting experiment and after what seemed like forever, she just started doing the “More” sign one day.

Since that miraculous moment (triggered, I believe, by a hot chip on my plate), we’ve all learnt a few more useful signs, such as:

“All Done” (very popular with her when she doesn’t want to eat any more veges)

“Change” “Nappy” (not as popular with her)

“Milk” (her personal favourite)

Now that the terrible two’s are fast approaching, we’ve learnt “Yes” and “No” to try and develop structure and guidelines.

Ha.

Which is why in the early hours of the morning a few weeks ago, I found myself having a “silent” argument with a very headstrong 16 month old that went like this:

Baby: [sign] “milk”
Mummy: [sign] “no”
Baby: [sign VERY FORCEFULLY] “YES”

via GIPHY

Mummy laughed
Baby won.

It’s been an age …

Time gets away from me so fast, especially now I’ve started back at work. I can’t believe my last post was in January and it’s now May – Mother’s Day (NZ/AUS) to be exact.

Since I last wrote, a few significant changes have happened and I did document a few of them on good ol’ Facebook  ’cause it’s easily accessible (especially in the middle of the night … or middle of the drama) and suitable for short and sweet posts.  Here’s a catch-up of happenings from January and February, dear dedicated reader:

January 24th:
I spent a good 10 minutes yesterday on the floor of the kitchen on hands and knees, right arm outstretched, index finger tip coated with vanilla icing wiggling suggestively at the baby, cooing “Come on bubba. You can do it. Mmmm yummy icing! Come and get it!”
It’s not that she can’t get around yet – she can. It’s a series of rolls; push up to sitting; take stock of direction; readjust position then forward onto hands and knees before flopping on her belly and rolling onwards again.
The problem is she backs herself into a corner and can’t get herself out so I thought I’d give her some motivation to try forward motion.
She wasn’t buying it. She sat and flapped her arms and gabbled at me, clearly indicating that I should be ashamed of myself for my feeble attempt at blackmail and just give her the damn icing.
But I persisted.
In the end we compromised. She got up on all fours and stretched her head forward turtle-style. I complied to her request and stretched my finger out to meet her little mouth to give her a lick.
It was about then I took a good long look at the situation and thought to myself “Yep. It’s definitely time you went back to work.”

She started crawling the week before I went back to work and now she’s pulling herself up and shuffling along if she’s got a handhold.

January 26th:
This cheeky little monkey is 10 months old today. That means she’s been ‘outside’ longer than she was ‘inside’ and the freedom is starting to show.
No longer does she sit quietly and play with her toys on the lounge room floor. Instead she has become a forward crawl-shuffling, sideways-rolling demolition derby keen on doing harm to herself and everything within reach of her cute little mitts.
All with this look on her face. How can you resist that?

You can’t. I’ve tried.

February 4th:
It’s T minus 8 sleeps to Daycare so after a visit to the centre on Friday, I’ve realised Little Miss is going to need more rough-around clothes or else I’ll be washing every damn night.
As a result, we spent yesterday morning trawling the Op Shops for shorts and tshirts (Aunty Kimmy would be proud!) and for the bargain basement price of 50c – $1 each, scored a good stash of clothes for her.
I used to do this when we lived in Western Australia and had 3 kiddies with no respect for clothing to dress. Twice a year we’d head from Carnarvon down to Geraldton for the weekend and gorge ourselves on junk food whilst getting supplies for the next 6 months, including clothes for growing kids.
There’s something so satisfying about getting a bargain. The cheapest I could buy shorts and tshirts for her brand new would be around $5 from Kmart (gotta love Kmart!).
But the best thing is I don’t worry about her wrecking them. She can dig in the sandpit and rub various foods into them and I won’t care.
There’s just one teeny tiny hiccup …
After weeks of very warm (for NZ) weather, we’ve woken to 13 degrees this morning and checking the weather report, it seems we’re back to 14 – 22 degrees for the foreseeable future. Perhaps we didn’t need so many shorts and short sleeve shirts after all.
Or maybe I need to do some more Op Shopping!

LOVE OP SHOPPING FOR BABY CLOTHES! It is now my new hobby.

February 7th:
Now that I’m back knee-deep in babyland (where nobody sleeps and food is for smushing), I’m rediscovering old storybook favourites as well as happening upon some new ones.
Little Miss received some great additions to her personal library at Christmas, including Hairy Maclary, Australian Animals and The Wonky Donkey.
If you’re not familiar with that last one, it actually comes with a CD of the song but in this day and age, who needs that when you have YouTube?
She was particularly miserable last night (bloody teeth) so I thought I’d cheer her up with The Wonky Donkey (plus the music might help drown out her grumbling).
The plan worked like a charm … then the next video came up on autoplay and I thought “Why not?”.
I absolutely love children’s stories but I especially have a soft spot for those that are a little bit irreverent and have a good injection of humour.
And so I present to you my new favourite – The Duck Song.
Enjoy!

I still get the giggles with this song. A friend at work recently asked me what music she should play to cheer me up – I showed her this. It’s now our go-to.

February 12th:
Today was supposed to be my first day back in the office but one power-spew later and I’m still here checking in via email and Skype while the tiny tyrant calls the shots.
I’d built myself up to be ready to let her go today. I was super-prepped and everything. When she upchucked, I had a brief flash of frustration … but then she cried and what can you do?
You call in sick and recalibrate for a day at home with a potential next star of The Exorcist Reloaded.
Mind you, she seems fine now.
When my now-grown kids were school-age, I used to call this phenomenon The 9am Miracle.
They were officially dying … until just after 9am and then suddenly they felt much much better. But you can’t pack them off to school, can you?
I can’t believe she knows that trick already …

Kids, man.

February 19th:
We survived our first week back at work/at daycare in true form – by the skin of our teeth.
Little Miss was off to a shaky start with a tummy bug that had her home with either mummy or daddy for two days (completely fine after one spew but you know, 48 hr daycare rule and all that) but then she hit the ground running.
No tears at drop-off … from her, anyway … and her teachers said she just slotted right in as if she’d always been there.
That, more than anything else, made it so much easier for me to not only go back to work but actually enjoy it as well.
It’s hard to put into words why going back to work makes me feel good.
Money is naturally a biggie. It’s been a tight 11 months but we’ve managed to make it through and still have a bit of fun. It is a welcome relief though, to know that we can start building up a safety net again. I really don’t like skating so close to the edge.
The workplace is another big tick. I love this company and all it stands for. The people are a wonderful bunch with awesome attitudes and smarts to boot. The work I’m involved with really interests me and I feel I can make a valuable contribution to the areas I’m now focused on (although I do miss handling the ins and outs of domains).
Being home with a young child definitely has its rewards but there’s also an awful lot of repetition. It’s also hard to give them the socialization skills they’ll need to get along with other kids when it’s pretty much a certainty that they’re going to grow up as an only child. Sure, she has 3 adult siblings but she won’t be learning about pecking orders and sharing (the easy OR hard way) from them.
This is my first go at being a working mum with a baby and I have to say it’s a little easier than I thought it would be. But then I think the chilled out, laid-back attitude Little Miss has always possessed has made it so … and for that, I am grateful.

Three months in and still loving it – even more so now we’ve got ourselves into a routine.

February 22nd:
When we got home from work/daycare yesterday I put the washing on, fed the grumbler fruit, yogurt and a baby banana biscotti (fanceee), prepped dinner, took the garbage out, hung the washing out, served dinner then finally sat down to eat. Meanwhile she’d taken a two-hour nap on Dad, so was cheerfully rejecting anything we put forward as a dining suggestion.
It was then I noted she had a slightly different air about her. Tougher. More determined. Definitely more vocal.
And I realised … I missed her.
She’s spending all day with other people and when I finally do get her back, there’s still stuff to be done that takes me away from her.
A wave of sadness washed over me and I cried, right there at the dinner table.

Adjusting to a new chapter in your life is always tough. I believe in the 6 WEEK RULE – tough anything out for 6 weeks and you’ll find it starts to get easier … and if it doesn’t, then for god’s sake make a change. Life’s too short to be miserable.

Fortunately, it has gotten better and the whole working/daycare thing has become part of our daily life – despite some curve balls, as the next compilation covering March and April will reveal.

Our Christmas Adventure

Walking the tracks

It’s been ages since I wrote a sightseeing blog – mainly because with a baby we haven’t strayed too far from the familiar for nearly 9 months.

But since there were no family visiting us for Christmas this year (and until I go back to work full-time in February, we couldn’t afford the trip home) we decided to be quintessential Kiwis for the season and “booked a bach” for three days over Christmas.

A bach (pronounced “batch”) can be anything from a converted shed in someone’s yard to a full-on holiday house with all the extras. In our case, it was a really quaint little one room (I don’t count the bathroom as it was more of a cupboard) cabin in the front yard of the owners’ section at Waihi Beach (pronounced “Why-hee”) on the East Coast about 1.5 hrs drive from Hamilton.

Although it sounds a little close to camping in a strangers’ yard, the block was around a quarter of an acre and there was ample room between our cabin and the main house. They’ve also set it up with lovely hedges all around so that it really felt quite private (even if, at the right angle and with enough dedication and a pair of binoculars, you would have had a great view of someone showering if you left the bathroom window open at night).

The cabin itself was set up with all the mod cons – a mini kitchen, BBQ, fridge, microwave, comfortable bed, lounge, armchair and random books in the bookshelf. We brought our food with us so it kinda felt like very fancy camping – all about 5 minutes’ walk from the shops or the beach. Perfect!

Clear waters of the gorge

We dawdled on the way there, stopping in at Morrinsville for a coffee then at Karangahake Gorge to do one of the walks. This area was famous for gold back in the day and the walks follow old tram tracks through the mountains beside the gorge and beside the remnants of buildings from yesteryear.

One of the viewing spots from inside the mine shaft

We threw Little Miss into the sling and went tramping (another kiwi tradition) up hill, down dale and in the dark (until I finally found where my new phone upgrade had hidden my torch). I can see why tramping is a favoured NZ pasttime – gorgeous scenery, well-tended paths and no snakes to look out for make it a very enjoyable way to get some exercise.

Orokawa Bay

Christmas Day was absolutely glorious and a delicious 24 degrees! My, I do like their idea of summer over here!) so we headed to the beach and decided to be brave (or crazy) and do the walk around the headland to Orokawa Bay  … in thongs … with a baby in a sling and me carrying the gear!  Actually it was not too hard a walk (considering Kiwis think any ground less than 45 degree angle to be flat) through gorgeous bush (once again no snakes! Yay!) with glimpses of the aquamarine waters below us.

Set up our beach shade underneath the trees. How’s the serenity?

The bay itself is very picturesque with big pohutukawas overhanging the beach, giving lots of shady spots to sit and admire the view. Not so great for swimming but we dug pools in the sand for Little Miss and managed to get wet and very very sandy in the process.

 

Open carriage to check out the view

The next day was raining but we’d planned to go into Waihi itself (about 10 kms inland) to take a ride on the Goldfields Historic Rail so it was perfect timing, really. It stopped raining by the time we were due to return so we rode in the outside open carriage to really enjoy the scenery.

It was a really relaxed and laid back first Christmas for Little Miss but one we all enjoyed. We’re thinking of convincing family to join us in Wanaka on the South Island next Christmas, which means we actually need to start planning now as it’s quite a popular destination, even in the summer months. At least we have good feedback about us on the Book-a-Bach website to hopefully aid in securing one of the fancier bachs down there:  “Awesome guests and they left the cabin spotless!”

I didn’t go too crazy as far as cleaning went but I may have squirted a little extra Spray ‘n’ Wipe around the room … just in case …

And now for something completely different …

I have a thing for circles lately. I don’t know if there’s a hidden message in it. Maybe I’m subconsciously thinking I’m back at square one in the circle of life (possibly a mixed metaphor there but whatever).

Once again,  I have a small baby which means I’ve pretty much lost my independence for a while – at least until she’s weaned.  But it’s not so much the constant demands on my time, sleep and body that troubles me.

It’s money.

Even though I’ve been doing a little bit of work here and there, it hasn’t been regular and has equated to little more coffee money (once upon a time they called it pin money – but who needs that many pins?).

It certainly hasn’t been anything that could cover some expenses while I’m on maternity leave. Fortunately I go back to work in a few months – and I say fortunately because I can’t stand not bringing money into the house.

Money is such a touchy subject for me. In my first marriage, I felt incredibly guilty about not working for the first six years, even though the main reason was that we had three kidlets under the age of five and could not have afforded the childcare costs.  At that stage, I only had the qualifications to be a check-out chick – so I would have basically just handed over my wage each week. Add to that the fact we were in the Army and moved on average once a year and my prospects were really poor.

Even though it seemed the logical choice to wait until they went to school – I ended up getting permanent part-time work when the youngest was 12 months old – I was made to feel that I was a burden because I didn’t earn money. And it wasn’t my imagination either – he said those very words to me years later.  It may have just been the divorce talking but it still stabs me right in the heart to recall it.

Nowadays there are so many articles highlighting the ability of stay-at-home mums to improve the lifestyle of a regular household. After all, they cook, they clean, they mind your child … if dad plays his cards right, he may get some “personal time” …

To pay for all that (and I don’t actually think they included ‘personal time’ in their sums) calculates to some ridiculous six-figure amount.  Even though it seems a terrible shame to put a price on motherhood, at least it gives us a measuring stick in terms that modern society can understand.

So I work hard to enjoy these precious 10 months or so that I have with Little Miss before we all get thrust back into the fast-running stream of work, daycare, home, chores, bed, repeat. I budget whilst making sure we still have a bit of fun. I do what work I can from home to bring in a little extra.

But even though it’s a totally different situation with a totally different partner who I know doesn’t have the same viewpoint, I still can’t seem to shut up those niggling inner demons about being perceived as a burden and not pulling my weight.