Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Secret

I'm sharing this with those of you who have been privy to my thoughts and concerns about returning to work to a job I haven't done before - long story...should you wish to, you could read about it herehere, and here.

Well.  Don't go telling anyone.  But, I went into work again today for a couple of hours (I'm returning 'proper' in a couple of weeks time).  And.  I almost.  Very nearly. Enjoyed it.  :o

Sssshhhh...don't tell anyone.

It's just between us.

After all, I wouldn't want to pass up the opportunity of sympathy and martyrdom would I ;)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Busy

You may have noticed that posting on this blog is a liitle thinner on the ground of late than it has been in previous times.  Life is picking up speed and feeling busier right now, mainly in a good way. 

That, and the fact that the sun is shining which always reduces tthe desire to sit indoors tapping away on the lap top - and sitting outdoors tapping away on the laptop whilst being blinded by the glare is really no fun by anyones standards.

I am in my final two weeks of maternity leave before I head back to work.  I still have mixed feelings about this butI  am mostly reconcilled to the idea now.  I went in to work last week for a couple of hours, and am aimung to do the same this week.  By doing so,  I've realised there are personal benefits beyond those of earning cash and being able to pay our bills over the coming months. 

By going to work I get to wear clothes that are less than baby friendly.  I can wear a necklace or earings without The Baby trying to swing from them like a circus monkey (whatever a circus monkey is?!).  It feels good.

I also get to walk around without The Baby semi-permanently attached to my left hip. As a result,  I get to use both hands to do stuff. 

I can finish a conversation rather than be distracted mid-flow to rescue The Baby from some precarious position he's hauled hmself into - he's not one to be content with sitting or crawling.

And the best bit?  I get to lunch with friends.  Just me and them.  No kids.  No responsibilities for a little while...bliss.

Of cousre, I'm only heading back to work for two and a half days a week.  And we are lucky to have family nearby who are happy to help out with childcare which makes the situation a whole lot easier for me.

Naturally, I'll miss The Baby, but it makes it worth being away from him just to feel that surge of love that rises in my chest when I get back home to him and he smiles up at me me with that big toothy grin of his, his eyes wide and blinking as he gazes up at me adoringly.  Nothing else in the world can make me feel quite as special or important as that look from The Baby.  Experience with The Eight Year Old tells me that the adoring look won't last forever so best make the most of it!

So what else is making life busy at the moment?  More about that tomorrow...unless of course the sun is shining again...or the busy things are keeping me too busy...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Snippets of everyday conversation #15

Me and The Eight Year Old recently baked cup-cakes for 'Bun Day' (yes really, a 'bun day' every week, be jealous, I am!!) at school...

Me: "So then, what toppings are you going for?  Chocolate sprinkles? 100's and 1000's? Sugar stars?  Silver balls?  You could do each one different maybe?"

The Eight Year Old:  "Actually, I'm going for a multi-media approach". *proceeds to put anything and everything on each cake*

Friday, 18 May 2012

Grief. It can take you by surprise.

Most of the time I'm more of a 'glass half full type o'gal' than 'a glass half empty' sort. 

Occasionally though, something happens that just seems to pull the rug from beneath your feet and makes you realise that no matter how good some (many) aspects of your life are, there are some things that will always cause you pain and hurt.

I'm not talking about the small stuff here.  Or even the medium stuff.  I'm talking about the big stuff.  The stuff that deeply affects your life, for the rest of your life, from the moment it hits you.

Serious illness.  Loss. Grief.

Most of us have been touched by these things in one way or another.  To a greater or lesser extent.

Grief is a funny one.   It's not only the obvious things that can cause us to grieve.  Sometimes grief can take us by surprise.    Grief for the life you once had.  Grief for the life you perhaps thought you would have. 

I have spoken before amongst these pages about the pain I have felt in the past about having to share The Eight Year Old -  he splits his time 50-50 between me and his Dad.  His Dad and I separated when he was only eighteen months old.  At that time I had to leave what had been our family home, carve out a new life for us. 

In those early days when I was without him I often felt as if someone had reached deep inside my body and ripped my heart clean out.  I felt guilty that he wouldn't get the neat and tidy family set-up that I had experienced.  Mostly I simply missed him.  I ached to be with him.  I grieved for the loss of our family life.

We now have a wonderful family life.  The Eight Year Old still splits his time 50-50 between me and his Dad.  He's always accepted this without question.   In fact, he appears to thrive on it and is a happy, balanced boy with a large and loving family in both  'halves of his life. 

When he is with is Dad for a few days I still (of course) miss him, things don't feel quite as 'complete' for me when he is not here with us.  But, with The Baby and The Husband I now have far greater distraction than before.  And so, as is often the way with grief, the pain has dulled.  It's still there but it doesn't dominate nearly so much, I've learnt to live with it.

And so, it took me surprise the other day when that gut wrenching, heart ripping feeling surfaced once more.

I was walking towards our house after just getting of the bus when crossing the road towards me was The Eight Year with 'the other woman in his life'.  He had just finished school on a day when he was at his Dad's house. 

It was all a bit awkward really.  Although I've talked to 'the other woman' before on the phone and have shared text conversations with her, this was our first face-to-face meeting.   And here she was, with my son having just collected him from school, a woman I had never met before.

Me and The Eight Year Old hugged and chatted a little about our day but it all felt a little stilted with the 'other woman' (as nice as she is) looking on, waiting to go on with her day.  

As I watched them walk away in the direction of The Eight Year Old's 'other home, her hand placed gently on his shoulder,' I felt as alone as I ever have in my life. A stark reminder of the reality of our co-parenting situation

Later that evening, with my heart still heavy, I found myself sobbing. 

Life for us is really very good right now.  I have a wonderful husband whom I adore and two gorgeous sons who I love more than I ever thought possible.  But regardless of how good life is, the sadness, the grief, for the time I spend away from my eldest boy, will always remain.  And sometimes, it would seem, I will be taken by surprise at just how raw that deep-rooted sadness will feel.

Text conversation #1

Me: "I've just been doing some decorating with The Baby strapped to me in the Baby Bjorn carrier :) "

The Husband: "By decorating you mean moving a vase of flowers and some small pictures don't you?! Crazy woman!"

Me:  "Erm...yes....of course!!"  
*...scrunches face up as hurriedly walks off to bathroom (baby still attached) to hide the huge vat of paint and to clean up both self and baby who appear to have more paint on them than the wall does...*

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tongue in cheek

With Julia -, the mighty fine host of the wonder that is the "100 word challenge" - on her travels in New York, this weeks (5 word) prompt is rather fitting:-

"LIBERTY  EMPIRE  APPLE  YELLOW  ENORMOUS"
I contemplated these words with iconic images of New York in my mind...the elegant sophistication of the Manhattan brownstone houses...the bright yellow taxis...the earthiness of the Bronx...the grandeur of Brooklyn Bridge  And then I dismissed all of those images and wrote these 100 (toungue-in-cheek) words instead....

_______________________________________________________
Put simply, Liberty loved it at Empire.  It was the best club in town.  It was enormous.  And that dance floor…bright zingy yellow and deep apple green flashing squares that seemed to bounce as you stepped on to them.
A couple (of gallons) of mojitos and the world of Empire was her oyster. 

All eyes would be on her.  Hands in the air, hips rotating, mouthing the words to her favourite dance ‘toons’ - how would anyone be able to resist her?

She slithered into her new dress, popped on her seven inch heels and stepped out into the night.

___________________________________________________   

For more 100 word entries, go over to Julia's Place by clicking here. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The interview

The night before the interview I discover the trousers I am planning to wear the next day are:-  a) a little on the snug side, and b) almost threadbare.  Not really the interview look I am aiming for. 

Over to the the back-up plan - the smart black dress.  Which of course, the following morning I have to hastily mend with the life saver that is 'wonder-web' after pulling a loose thread hanging from the hem.  Not the best start to interview day.  However, a final read of my notes and I'm out of the house.

Sat on the bus, my mind begins to wander...after being off work for the past year I begin to doubt if I'm still capable of holding a work based conversation let alone survive an interview.

Half an hour later, I'm sat alone in a room in front of a lap-top doing what turns out to be quite a challenging 'intray exercise'.  After sitting like a rabbit caught in the headlights for a few minutes i launch into action and begin to relax. 

Next up is the interview with a panel of three senior managers.  They are experienced and relatively gentle in their interviewing technique which makes the whole thing easier than anticipated.  By the end of the interview I find that I've quite enjoyed it - weird, I know.

Having survived and been released - in the knowledge that I will be informed of the outcome later the same day - I meet a good friend to eat cake and to dissect the whole interview experience.  By the end of this meet-up, the friend thinks I'll be offered the job.  I, on the other hand now believe I've made a complete hash of the intray exercise and have talked utter rubbish throughout the whole interview.

I take myself off for a spot of retail therapy before returning home.

The phone call informing me of the interview outcome doesn't come until 6.45pm.  I've already opened the wine.

"I'm very sorry to say that you didn't get the job.  Your interview performance was excellent.  You were 'very appointable'.  Please don't be put off applying for jobs in our department in the future as we'd very much like to work with you.  But on this occasion, we've chosen a candidate who was more experienced overall in this area of work".

Hmmm.  The Husband offers tea.  And more wine. And makes encouraging noises about all the positive feedback.  I sulk.  And dwell on the fact that it almost feels worse to have nearly got the job rather than not even being considered to be a serious contender. It's a bit like 'almost' winning the lottery.  Or losing the all  important football match in extra time - I know some of you out there are still feeling that particular pain from the past weekends events.

I remind myself that I do at least still have a job - albeit not necessarily the job I would like - to return to and that I should be grateful for that in the current economic climate.  The recent rejection is still hard to take though. 

One week to go now until I go in to work to meet the team I'll be managing in the job I've never done before but have been 'matched' to in a reorganisation whilst I've been on maternity leave.  Watch this space - but be warned...it may not be pretty!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Snippets of everyday coversation #14

Me to The Eight Year Old as we sit looking through photos on the laptop... 

"Oooh The Baby looks like his Dad there doesn't he?"

The Eight Year Old:  "..eeerrmmm...."

Me:  "I can finally see it now, he definitely has a look of his Daddy in this picture"

The Eight Year Old:  "Yes.  Maybe.  But without the beard I'd say".

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Old bones


She couldn't pinpoint when it had started.  She suspected it had been going on for a long time before she had become aware of its existence.  It seemed to have crept up on her slowly.  Insidiously.  Stealing away from her, the ease of movement she had previously taken for granted. 

Subtly twisting and knotting the bones at their joints.  The arthritis was invading her.  Taking away her freedom.  Freedom to enjoy her life in quite the same way she had before.  The pain, she could cope with.  The slowing effect on her body, she hated.

It made her feel old.

_____________________________

This weeks '100 word challenge' prompt was this photo:-




It is a photo of old bones - an exhibit in the National Museum of Scotland in their ‘prehistoric’ section.

Don't forget to hop on over to 'Julia's Place' to see more entries.

Beach treasure

I haven't linked up with Midlife Singlemum's ArtIHeart for a couple of weeks.  I don't know why.  Sometimes time escapes me...and we have been busy enjoying ourselves on holiday and the like recently :)

Last weeky I shared with you some photos of our holiday to Norfolk.  Here's one picture I didn't share...


This picture - my offering for this weeks ArtIHeart - was displayed in the house we stayed in whilst on holiday.  It's made up of what we like to call 'beach treasure'.  It may not be the most refined work of art but I like it's quirkiness.  It makes me think about the fun the artist must have had in collecting their materials to make the collage. 

We decided to follow suit and collected our own beach treasures. 



Unfortunately we had to take the Starfish carcess back to the beach as he stunk the car out!!

We are yet to make our picture, but rest assured that once we have, you will be invited to the viewing!

In the meantime, get yourself over to Midlife Singlemum's blog to see more art that has been especially selected for you this week :)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Ruby



"Daisy? Lilly? Iris? Rose?"
 
"No. What's with the obsession with flowers?"

"Meg?  Polly?"
"For a pet maybe."

"Coco?  Olive?  Saffron? Peach?"
"We’re not going to eat her"

"Florence?  Paris?  India?" 
"As a holiday destinations maybe"

"Mabel?  Betty?"
"Too old fashioned".

"Zara? Xena?"
"Too modern".

"Suri?"
"No."

"Eve? Grace?"
"Too religious."

"Pearl?"
"Seriously?"

"Julie?  Sarah?  Angela?"
"Sorry, did I miss the moment when we were transported back to the 1970’s?"

"Milly?"
"With the surname Millington?"

"You come up with a suggestion then!"
"Ruby?"

"Ruby"
"Ruby Millington"

"Ruby Millington"
"I like it"

"I like it too"
"Ruby will be her name".

_________________________________________________________

This is a link up with Julia for the 40th 100 word challenge.  Hop on over to Julia’sPlace to read more 100 word pieces written in response to the prompt ‘Ruby’.
Apologies to anyone whose name has been harmed in the writing of this blog post :)

Time is running out

It is five weeks and five days until the end of my maternity leave.  The luxury of spending each and every day with The Baby is about to end. 

Time is running out.

My mind has suddenly become very focused on making the most of these free and easy (?) days.  Soon, I won't be able to set the pace and decide on what we shall be doing each day, changing our plans as the fancy takes me.

"How are you feeling about going back to work?" is the question I am being asked increasingly frequently.

I have mixed feelings.  I shall, of course, miss The Baby.  It will be hard to leave him even though it will only be for two and a half days a week. I'm also a bit anxious about how he will be without me.

He currently refuses to accept a bottle or cup, only happy to drink from the breast as and when he chooses.  Thankfully he has a healthy appetite for solids now so I guess he can snack in between his meal to ensure he doesn't go hungry.

And then there's the sleeping issue.  The Baby HATES being in his cot for more than the five minutes it takes me to nip to the loo leaving him to explore the cot and leaving me knowing he is safe.  There is no way he would sleep in there. No Sir-ee. No sleeping in the cot for The Baby. We've indulged his preference. Co-sleeping at night and letting him nap on our laps or in his pushchair during the day.  But with me at work, will the people looking after The Baby be quite so generous in indulging these sleepimg tendancies?

We're hoping that due to the generous offers of support from our families that we will be able to avoid needing to use a nursery.  Which leave me both grateful, and, with a number of concerns.

How will The Baby respond to being with different people each day?  Will we be consistent - ie. do things in the way that I do them?!  I know that The Female Parent (aka my mum) may find this a struggle, preferring her own way to the inferior ways of others.  Ahh , so that's where I get it from...

*pauses for moment of self realisation* ;-) 

*considers world-war-scale possible fall out from potential clashes with The Female parent over parenting issues*

Will the (aging) Parents really be able to cope with The (headstrong) Baby who is constantly on the move, into everything and really quite demanding of attention?  Is it fair to ask them them to help us out in this way?  It's hard to say 'n'o to isn't it so should we even place them in that position?

Maybe a day (or two) in Nursery would be good for The Baby?  Friends have shared very positive experiences of the Nursery we would choose to use - although I'm guessing we may struggle at this late stage to get a place in the immediate future.  Is The Baby missing out if he doesn'tregularly go and mix freely with other babies?  Or can this wait until he's older as it did when The Eight Year Old - and he's turned out alright.

AAAARRRGGGGHHHH  my head may explode!!!! 

IT'S A MINEFIELD!!

And breath.

Looking at the positives, I am really looking forward to baby-free lunchs with friends.  The luxury of regularly having the opportunity to relax and chat over a lazy latte whilst putting the world to rights is a very appealing prospect.

And although I'm not someone who would ever get bored of being at  home - so many things I like to do to occupy more hours than there are in the day - I am looking forward to getting my brain back into a different gear and mixing with more of the adult population again.

If only I knew the job I'll be doing when I return then I'd almost be looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, my  previous job, the one that I really enjoyed, got 'swallowed up' in a reorganisation that took place whilst I had my head in the baby-clouds. I didn't come out of the whole thing particularly well.  However, I'm facing that one head-on.  I have an interview next week for a new role that I'd really like to do so wish me luck!

Either way, I'm only going to be working for two and a half days a week and a person can do anything for a couple of days a week right?  And working part-time creates a nice balance doesn't it?  At least it does if you overlook the feelings of not doing your job properly and not fufilling your role as a mum well enough.

I shouldn't even think about complaining really.  I have a decent, interesting job that pays relatively well waiting for me offering me a working pattern to suit my needs and enabling my family to eat.  When you look at it like that...

In the meantime I am doing my best to avoid a long drawn out version of the  'Sunday evening back to work tomorrow' feeling.  I still have over five weeks left before I return to work and i plan to enjoy every moment!

So tell me, any  working parents out there who returned to work after being a 'stay at home' Mum or Dad?  How did you feel about going back to work?  Any advice for me?