The man is back in the house!
This trip was quite a long one, one day short of 2 weeks, and while I was really feeling the lack of sleep, in most ways I think I handled this one better than most. Yes the kids and I were all sick, I did take one of the weeks off work, it was half in school hols, both sets of lovely neighbors had us over to dinner, as did my mum and I did get organised before D left on the food front, but still. Even Amy said I wasn't as bad this time as I usually am when daddy's away. Ahem.
I am always sad to see D go, as are the kids. It's not just about sharing the work (though I'd be lying if I said doing it all on my own was a burden I assume happily), it's about losing a part of the family. We wonder where he is and what he's doing, we want to tell him our news, show him our stuff, give him a cuddle. The kids ask when he'll be home and when I'm making them do something they wish I wasn't they wish out loud that he was home right now to save them from me. We miss him and I feel keenly what he's missing in our lives.
The thing about solo parenting is that while it is incredibly exhausting (there really is no solution to the lack of sleep I can find) and at times sad, you can find yourself getting into a rhythm. The kids and I developed our own routines, including tania's ten minute tidy, we ate well, the house was pretty orderly and I moved my sewing machine and computer into the open plan kitchen/living room and managed to integrate creative work into the day pretty seamlessly. I step up because I have to and I do my best to fill D's shoes as well as my own and however compromised it is, it becomes normal.
And then D comes home. There's a whole lot of excitement and news to swap and cuddles to be had. Everyone is super happy, especially me who gets to sleep with earplugs again.
But you know, there's another part of this picture too. One that's a little harder to acknowledge with out misconstruing the situation. You see, another adult changes everything. It reintroduces negotiation into the minutia and with it frustration and compromise. Someone else's dirty undies on the floor, someone else's likes, dislikes, preferences and idiosyncrasies. Another person asking questions all the time in a way that is not really so enormously different from the kids - where is something, how do I do something, can't I have something, can't we do something. In some ways it seems like there is another person to whom I surrender half the authority and decision making role, but who comes with more work, more responsibility.
Now I said this was only part of the picture and I don't want to misconstrue, it's not that I don't want D back, but I always forget in the midst of all the excitement that his return is a transition, not a release. The hard bits always take me by surprise. I expect the work load to halve but it feels like for each burden I offload, there's a new one to take it's place. Where before I was chastising myself for every harsh word or slack arse meal option, now there's someone else asking me to pack up my shit off then kitchen bench or needing to approve the dinner options, someone who doesn't want to hang out at the market or who walks out to the car and gets in my driver's seat. [As Wil said suddenly when we were coming home from shopping and I was driving - mummy driving? not daddy? what daddy for? and as D said himself in response, yes, now that mummy can drive no one needs daddy for anything!]
I think part of the rub is because I am by nature a team player on these things. I would much prefer it that he didn't travel, that I didn't have to take on all the jobs myself, that negotiating was the base play. I'd rather he was here and sharing it. This process of adapting to life without him is about me adapting to things I have no choice over. And I could certainly bitch and moan about that until the cows come home. But since it isn't something I can change I do my best to adapt, and part of that adaption is stepping up and managing on my own, and trying as best I can to do it with a smile on my face. And somehow when he comes back it feels like both a demotion to a subordinate role and a loss of independence. Like I had something shoved at me and then snatched back just when I was getting used to it.
My creative life is relegated back to the cold work room and no sooner have I gone there than someone is asking where I am. Friday night football is back on and Glee is gone, there's no hosting crafty lady dinner parties or sewing days on the horizon and now there's the impossible task of trying to keep the kids quiet in the mornings because daddy's sleeping and trying not to get woken up when daddy comes to bed late at night. There's the uncertainty of someone else's totally changeable plans where one minute I have a day to myself today and the next minute I don't, where the calendar is a blank slate but can't be booked or indeed may already be booked but not communicated.
In a day or two the transition will be over and I will be back in the habit of organising things the way D is used to. I won't notice a whole lot of the things I am now and when I get home from work tomorrow night and it's dark and cold and late and there's a dinner ready I will be very glad indeed (or if there isn't I will feel fully justified in having a raging tanty). At some point I will fall into a new rhythm and I will adapt, I always do. But I wonder if over time as I get better at adapting to those periods when I am alone, if the transition back to being part of a team gets harder too. Like there's a certain amount of sadness and difficulty and if it isn't in the goodbyes and coping alone, then it's in the return and the working out how to be together again.
Perhaps next time I should plan to take off the very second he arrives home - do you think I could trick that readjustment phase by running away when it hits? Would a few days away on my own somewhere else give me the sense of release I so crave after I feel like I have been on the front lines? Sometimes I think it's thanks I want, for D to return home and to simply marvel that I kept us all alive and sane, to applaud my willingness and capacity to pick up when he leaves off, but perhaps what I want is really truly a break. After 24/7 duty maybe I want R&R with no responsibility whatsoever - so the transition to family life feels more like a middle road I am comfortable to travel down. Hmm, some food for thought there.
A quick community service announcement for those of you with the yarnie leanings - if you can possibly help out putting together knit and crochet blanket squares, there a bunch of people who would be very very grateful (and I would think you were seriously ace, if that's anything).
And a quick plug for this lady, who has been running art classes this school hols. Amy has been to a couple and she had a ball and produced some great work.
I am hoping she offers them next hols and I hope those of you on the Northern side of town will give them a look in - because she's ace and also because then we can have coffee in the cafe together while our kids are having fun!
As an organiser I like this swap format, despite the effort involved in receiving, sorting and sending out parcels I like that the postage costs are reduced and swap signer uppers who don't fulfil their commitments don't get stuff for free (though seriously, those people shit me because you know, we all have problems and issues and demands on our time, like, hey, organising the swap and chasing all you who can't be fagged, and sending me an email to say I'm out takes no effort at all and not even answering my hey what's going on emails really really shits me). What I don't like is seeing just how many people can't adhere to a deadline. A third! In the end I held the swap up by nearly a week and still one parcel didn't arrive. I know I am a little anal about deadlines, and am more likely to be early than late, but between the leaving it to the last minuters and those who actually believe the post offices most optimistic delivery timeframes as a certainty, I'm overwhelmed. Next swap I'm going to take a different kind of tack about lateness...
And the really useful swap is all done and dusted. A big thanks to those who took part, and I hope they all enjoy their goodies (I am enjoying mine!).
And today's photos are a slice of what's been going on round here on the making front this last week and a bit. (1)Amy's tiny tea leaves cardi finished and loved (details over on ravelry if you're keen), (2)my new wrist bag for carrying the ball of yarn when I am knitting on the move (to prevent bag tangles and add style - Lotta Jansdotta I love your fabrics!), (3)mandarins off our tree are getting eaten in large quantities and with great delight, (4)I finally refashioned the circles skirt by reshaping the yoke, reducing the side span and slightly shortening it and added a new vest to the wrap vest repertoire this time in a remnant of wool and cashmere suiting in a great shade of red (and sporting my fab brooch my darling sister gave me for my birthday - LOVE!), (5)new book!, (6) and (7)gingerbread with our new cutters care of the Flemington market, (8)hats by Amy thanks to this great tutorial (this lady's blog is so full of good ideas and things to learn!), (9)new hand dyed posmerino, this time in an aran or 10ply weight, ready for Ingenue. I used a graduated dip dye in black and I'm crossing my fingers it knits up nice or it all goes back in the dye bath and comes out plain black, (10)new aeroplane jeans for Wil - black denim outside, gorgeous car fabric inside and trimmed in red top stitching and plane motif ribbon. I had to pump out some lined jeans as the little man seems to be really suffering from the cold, but is very reluctant to rug up - hates all jumpers, multiple layers etc. I had to pull every embellishment trick in the book to get him into these and the other new pair of (11)blue denim lined jeans with car pocket details. A good making week it's been!