On balance. Again

These days I’m having this debate with L. I’d like to do things by myself. Yoga, playing the piano, joining a book club, this sort of things. He thinks it’s selfish, because the time we don’t spend working is for the family. The children need us, they’ll grow up soon etc.

If achieving a work/life balance was difficult, thinking about a work/family/life balance seems impossible. But isn’t life the same as family? I’m not convinced. When I was single, I struggled because it seemed that doing activities by myself was pointless. I wouldn’t cook unless I was cooking for a guest, I wouldn’t go to the movies unless I had company. Now I struggle to be by myself, to listen to my thoughts. I think you need to know yourself and find the balance that works for you. Having young children teaches a lot about yourself, but you can forget any kind of balance.

Our time together is very little. We both work full time, which means the children spend every day every week at the nursery and school from 8.30am to 6pm. Then we pick them up and start the bedtime routine straight away. At 8-8.30pm they sleep (when it goes well), we are exhausted and ofter go to bed. If one of us is away, the other has to look after both of them and it’s even more tiring. Hence the endless discussions on what we’re allowed to do outside the home. Can he go to that presentation in the evening? Can I go to the book club? But then there are days when we’re out for work and we can’t not do it, so adding any other day out becomes asking too much of the other. The result at the moment is that we don’t do anything. We work, we put the children to bed, we collapse in bed or go back to work. I do try to play the piano when I have a little energy left, but it’s rare honestly. And I do feel energised when I meet people out of this routine, but it’s not nearly often enough. We end up arguing. Should we just wait patiently until the children grow up? Were they disciplined kids who go to bed at the same time every day without too much fuss, I’d have so much more energy. But they’re not, and we have to live with our two lovely strong willed challenging little persons. I think there is more to me than being their mum. The struggle goes on.

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Pottery

I made a small jug last weekend. It was the open day of a pottery studio and they let people try the pottery wheel. I had never considered doing that, and I had to be kind of forced by a friend, but I did like it, I could see why it’s satisfying. A lady asked me if I’d like to take that as a hobby. I said I did like it and who knows, maybe one day. She wasn’t having it, why not now. I say well, I have two young children, a full time job, and lots of plans, I want to sing, I want to play the piano… She murmered oh, you’re being honest.

A grey morning

0738 service to Bedford. I’m sitting on a busy commuter train. Lots of sleepy faces, eyes glued to mobile phones or tablet or anything really that would let them avoid meeting other people’s eyes. Mostly black or grey or dark blue coats and jackets, white shirts, very few lighter colours and always women. I’m wearing a wine and royal blue dress.

My work is going well. I have been busy, my colleagues have been friendly and welcoming, the projects I’m working on are interesting. It feels good to be competent in what I do, without needing training. I still have to get used to the increased working hours, I get tired in the afternoon and this week I caught some kind of cold, I have body aches and I lost my voice. Luckily I worked from home 2 days, now I’m going to the office, I hope it won’t make it any worse.

Pallino asked me to wake him up to say goodbye before I left, and then became sad because I left.

On track

First day in the new job. LittleOne has Hands foot and mouth, which is an obscure virus spreading uncomfortable red spots on those areas, common in nurseries and unknown to other human beings… so L is staying home after having spent the night writing a paper AND looking after LittleOne, and I left at 7am to be at work before 9am. I’m happy to start something new, sad to leave my blessed part-time arrangements (although I’m aware that 30 hours per week is full time for many. I think everyone should work 30h/w) and I really really really hope that I will like this new place and things at home will work out well.

Wheezes

LittleOne had a bad cold which came with wheezes (“viral wheezes”) and he ended up in hospital a couple of weeks ago. We don’t know at this stage if he will develop asthma, he still needs his inhaler about once a day. The day L took him to the hospital, I was working in London and I got delayed due to some issue with the trains. I was more than 2 hours away and I got this text saying that the GP had sent them to A&E, and the station where I was was closed for an hour. I arrived at 9pm and went straight to spend half the night at the hospital with LittleOne, while L went to take a rest. When he arrived at the hospital, he was given oxygen, and he got better quite soon: by the time I arrived he was being monitored but OK. At 2.30am we were sent home. Luckily it was a warm night, and LittleOne was super-excited to take a taxi home in the middle of the night. Now if I say “we have to go to the doctor”, he goes “taxi?”. Pallino in the meantime was only too happy to have his first sleepover ever with a schoolmate. And I felt so grateful for these people who went to pick him up at the hospital and kept him with them until the morning. So overall it went well, there’s just a lot of anxiety about it all in our hearts.