Over Time

 

It’s March. I’ve been back at work full time for 2 months, Samson turned one and we are house hunting. Our current flat is a tip. The dust has dust and the garden looks like a vacant lot. Never before have I felt the need for another hour in the day or day in the week. Shit just does not get done. And being the A type, ENTJ type, or control freak if you must, not getting shit done is not  an option.

Except it has to be.

I caught up with a friend at work who has also just returned from mat leave and she asked me what was ‘still standing’.

‘You know what I mean’ she said counting off on her fingers, ‘out of Baby, Work, Marriage, House, Friends… what’s still standing, because you sure as hell won’t have all five’

Most of us can’t have all five, well certainly not all running on optimum all of the time. Right now I can say we have Work and Baby firing on all cylinders. Samson is learning to climb, walk, talk and cause havoc so he is more than fine. I haven’t fallen asleep at my desk at work or absentmindedly replied all with an emoji so we’ll call that a victory.

As for the rest? I have seen a handful of my friends, but chances are if you don’t work in my office or live next door I probably haven’t seen you since October. I rely far too heavily on social media to keep in touch which really doesn’t cut it.

As for my long suffering husband who is getting his head round the daily grind of full time childcare – he’s a marvel, but a marvel I see for about 45 mins every week day and a few hours on the weekend. When I drag him around London looking at dreadful flats we can’t afford.

We tell each other its not forever. It will get easier. Its just a phase, and I really am sure that all of that is true. Thanks to my sleep shy son we all learned to function on 4 hours’ sleep so surely anything is possible right?

What I am a little more concerned about is the silent number 6 in all of this. The self care bit. Finding time to recharge when there are a million other demands that need to be met. I’ve always been good at prioritising, but in this area I am appalling. I can’t seem to justify the yoga class at lunch when there are meeting to be prepped for, or the run on the weekend when the dog needs vaccinating.

There is always something. And everything needs to be negotiated.  The run on the weekend in return for the other half’s lie in, the week night dinner for picking up the dry cleaning, the midnight trip to 24 hour tesco for.. hell anything you want if I don’t have to go. Every moment counted and weighed and bartered to keep the balance right and resentment to a minimum. Never has there been a more misused phrase than that of ‘free time’. What are you doing with your ‘free time’? No. Such. Thing.

I suspect too that it will all get a whole lot easier when I stop obsessing over the dust on the bookshelves or the weeds taking over the patio. Because ultimately everyone is fed, clothed and not too grubby so I am taking that as a win.

Longer Out Than In

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I am still putting cutlery in the fridge. Or rather it was cheese in the sink today. I have realised that just as I think the fog has lifted, a different kind of fog descends. Thicker, trickier, more foggy fog or something equally dense. Maybe treacle. Or mud. Stuff that makes your brain slow and your bones feel tired. That stuff.

Samson is now nearly 9 months old, 40 weeks to be precise, the magical number that marks him ‘longer out than in’. His personality is beginning to shine through. He laughs at the dog snoring and the word ‘no’. He deliberately, and with great tenacity, pursues the very thing he knows is out of bounds, he loves cuddles and bath time, he thinks coughs are terrifying and he hates the hair dryer. His favourite book is Buster’s Farm and he claps whenever he sees an animal whether at the park or on telly. He is obsessed with my teeth (odd ball kid) and his Dad’s glasses. And a million other moments day to day that point to this unique little person figuring out how to be a human. Brilliant, spectacular, exhausting moments

And while he is thriving, I am still forgetting the words for particular items of clothing (I forgot ‘jacket’ the other day) and not managing a few basic self care particulars. Like dinner. I had chocolate biscuits last night, which was forgivable in the early days where I couldn’t tell the difference between night and day. Now it just feels slack. Or lazy. Or just crap at time management which I am usually very good at.

Turns out that skill hasn’t left me, I’ve just been channelling all of it into The Boy’s timetable, needs and day to day care. So while his routine is rock solid, mine has slipped irrevocably. And perhaps while he’s learning the words for things, I forget them. While he eats a nutrional meal (ish… or the dog does) 3 times a day, its a gamble as to whether I’ll just eat the leftovers of his lunch or then just have toast for dinner. Maybe that’s just the trade off for now? Not too problematic seeing as the only really big decisions I need to make day to day are whether I need to puree more pears or stock up on Ella’s Kitchen pouches. But these hazy maternity days are numbered, and the count down to work begins

I’ll state for the record that I am really looking forward to getting back to work. I am lucky that I genuinely love what I do, the industry I work in and the people I work with. I have worked in publishing for nearly 10 years and if anything I feel more passionate it about it now that I have a child. So no, I am not mourning the end of maternity leave looming ahead of me. I’m getting excited about getting stuck back into my career.

I am also excited about having hot cups of tea, adult conversation that last for more than 2 minutes at a time, and to hopefully, defogging (a word?) my brain. I am looking forward to lunch breaks that don’t involve two spoons (one for distraction purposes) and wearing clothes that are most definitely not breast-feeding friendly (I have tonnes. I have not worn them for over a year).

In a nutshell, I am looking forward to having to make myself a priority again, because the hard truth is that I really have not managed that this year at all. Time and energy is limited, and when averaging 3 hours’ sleep a night there’s only so much to go around.

I haven’t been great at carving time out for myself. Our situation means we don’t have heaps of support directly available to help on the day to day – and that’s not a whinge or a moan, it just is what it is and we are well aware that many many families cope on a hell of a lot less. But it does mean that afternoons ‘off’ involve catching up on life admin and general daily trivia that needs sorting. Or lying still in a dark room looking at twitter and catching up on ‘news’ because its makes me feel connected.  And that is rather than going for that run, or that massage etc. Not the healthiest choice I know. But when you’re so tired you can feel it in the back of your eyeballs, sometimes only twitter will do.

I have another 10 weeks or so left of my leave. A good chunk of that will be in South Africa where we will be visiting family, and I am looking forward to having a plethora of grandparents and family who will be more than happy to lend a helping hand and I am already researching spa retreats, brunch spots by the sea and mountain view dinners.  I’m cashing in all those self care chips that I have not spent all year in a bid to greet 2017 feeling refreshed rather than frazzled

And hopefully not putting bin bags in the oven

 

 

 

To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

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To Accept The Things I Cannot Change, The Courage to Change the Things I Can

And The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Ah. A platitude. Add in this text over an instagram filtered sunset and (hey presto!) you have a mantra all ready to be uploaded and liked and favourited and reblogged, retweeted and shared. . Eugh. Bored already.

This here control freak finds this accepting things ‘that cannot be changed’ particularly hard. Being this way has its advantages. I am organised, and tenacious. I can be ruthlessly efficient and its certainly helped me out in many areas of my life. My project management can be militant and this extends from work life (huge positive) to home life (problematic).  I am manageable, I open my post immediately, I pay my bills on time without fail, I return missed calls, I clear emails. I am dependable, loyal and consistent. I aim to do my best. At all times. Why I do all of this is material for another post, but for now let’s just say I’m comfortable with clear structure and order. The alternative didn’t work out so well.

But if I fall short of these rather exacting expectations I can be unrealistically hard on myself, and I also expect similar behaviour from others. So this leaves me… well, disappointed, guilt-ridden and exhausted. Really really exhausted.

In my really (really) tightly ordered fantasy world, all things are measurable and therefore controllable. You can predict an outcome given certain behaviour and circumstances. Basic if x then y. So when faced with something that defies my master calculations (or manipulations), this is not acceptable. It comes up a lot (funny that). But, bear with me. I’m not completely nuts. I am learning to make like Elsa and let it go. I am trying to be more flexible, spontaneous, forgiving. But sometimes I find myself raging against the sheer injustice of reality not playing ball with my grand plans. I mean, I CHECKED EVERYTHING THREE TIMES (and the numbers work!)

Today the thing I cannot change is my health. GP has me signed off and I am PISSED. I have been exercising regularly, in fact I’ve been really diligent, with the running in particular. Plus eating (mostly) well. Making sure I get a decent dose of vitamin D and ‘fresh air’. I have avoided the office lurgy. I have had plenty of sleep.

But instead of holding up it’s end of the bargain having been given everything it needed, my immune systems fails spectacularly and pole jumps the standard cold/flu combo and delivers me an all singing all dancing, requires-bed-rest-and- proper-medication-illness. FFS. This was not supposed to happen.

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Stella showing me how bed rest is done. The Master at Work

I am also a drama queen. This added to my controlling tendencies and I am having one hell of a diva strop about this.I had some pretty awesome plans for my 10 days off work. Including but not limited to; running to clear the cobwebs, general mooching around town picking up sales bargains, seeing mates, and eating cake. Then maybe some cycling and yoga and general getting in a good, clear frame of mind for 2015. Sure, loads of sleeping was in the carefully planned schedule. But now that its pretty much been prescribed, I’m already adding cabin fever to my list of ailments. I say again, GAH.

Plus there is still too much panettone in the house. This is too much temptation.

But as I write this from my sofa I’m forced to admit, while I may be great at organising everything (and everyone) else, I am not very good at looking after myself. Sure I get loads of exercise, and while my diet has been ok most of the time, I pretty much dropped the ball for most of November and December. And yes I get a lot of sleep at the weekend, but not during the week. So its all a bit patchy. So here is my flaw. When it comes to looking after myself I am not consistent. I let myself down.

As a result I’ll be seeing in the New Year binge watching Die Hard and a few other festive classics, and eating the leftover panettone. In bed. While I reboot the immune system, and resolve to add berocca to my daily routine I am reminding myself it could be worse, I could use the time out and NYE is rubbish anyway

The rest of you have no such excuses, go out and celebrate the year that was in the best way you know how, clock those miles, spend that dosh and dance your freaking socks off into 2015.

As John McClane would say Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*ckers

Now pass that panettone and the ibprofen

Happy 2015!

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