the ferrython

New job, and I’m catching the ferry to work. See?

pelican

They have an official order now, so that when I report, to hub in boots, on the UN levels of negotiation required to get a toddler dressed, breakfasted and teeth cleaned, he is fully across the level of morning stress.

I have noted that my ferry times have declined in direct proportion to the coldness. As the mornings get colder, as the leaves turn and fall, we get later. We like sleeping in our house. We are night owls.

So, I present to you the order of ferries:

8:00 the rock star

This one rarely occurs. Today, I’m on it. Usually it involves shaking an unconscious toddler awake and delivering him, portable breakfast in hand, drooling, to family daycare.

8:15 the flat white. This ferry gives me enough time to buy a coffee and still make a 9 o clock meeting.

8:30 the sprint. I usually only make this ferry at a full sprint on a relatively calm morning, when my long drop off has been whittled away to something akin to throwing a child from a moving car. Don’t lie, you’ve thought about it. Sometimes this ferry is called “the fluke”, as I can occasionally make it without running to the point of cardiac arrest. Usually if it is running a touch late.

The 8:45. The miracle. This ferry gets me in at about 9:10am. It usually comes on normal to slightly degraded quality mornings. There’s a big gap after this until the 9:15 ferry, so it’s usually a miracle I’ve made it. There have been tantrums from one or both of us in making this one. Unless the “getting dressed robot” has made an appearance. He likes the getting dressed robot.

The 9:15. Also affectionately known as the “who cares”. This is the ferry I catch when I’ve given up. When the toddler wins. When I wait out the tantrum rather than push through it. Sometimes, it’s just because we’re having fun, and I don’t want to cut it short. Often, it’s because everything has gone pear shaped, or I just let jman find his own rhythm. And really, it’s work. In the scheme of things, Who cares?

The 9:30. The why bother.

A letter to Joe Hockey

So today of all days, in Australia, the idiot politicians announced a raft of reforms to childcare and paid parental leave. Naturally, all of these will impact us. Negatively. In an area where waitlists for daycare places can be 2.5 YEARS long, where fees can be up to $160 a day, they are capping govt childcare subsidies to a % of $110 a day. That’s $110 a day in 2017…..
They also did a major backflip on paid parental leave. Their government was elected with a promise of a “rolls Royce” scheme, where the 18 weeks paid parental leave would be based on a woman’s ACTUAL salary….the existing scheme was freely available but at a basic wage. Which was fine…because it did the job, and it improved things a lot. And you got it whether or not your employer had maternity leave.
Today, they announced if your employer has GOOD maternity leave (ie better than the government one) , you get no government paid parental leave at all. There’s an incentive for employers to look after women, eh? It’s hard to explain it all here, so many of us are still sketchy on the details, government included, I suspect.
It just so happens the fool that announced this is my local member of parliament. ie we actually vote him into his seat (or not, in my case). Here is a copy of the letter I just sent him, in lieu of a punch in the face.
Dear Joe Hockey (this just autocorrected to Joke hockey. I think it could stick)
Happy Mother’s Day to you too.
You are our local member. In an electorate full of families. Hard working families.
And you undermine all of this hard work by an ill thought out, back flipping scheme, doing a 180 degree turn on electoral promises.
The most offensive aspect of all of the announcements this weekend, and there’s a few to choose from, is your blatant disregard for women and their careers. By taking an electoral promise and twisting it, until you rip women off.
The 18 weeks paid parental leave was the ONLY THING that kept this household afloat during maternity leave. I had been on 6 months bedrest, with no income. Funnily enough, that wasn’t planned. But it cleaned us out.
So by the time the baby came, we had less than nothing. We had a very generous maternity leave scheme, with 40 weeks half pay from my employer, but we were starting with debts, not savings. The paid parental leave scheme was the difference between paying all the bills, and not paying the bills, given I was formerly the main earner in our household. Stick that in your misogynistic pipe and smoke it.
In case you haven’t noticed in your precious nannied up world up there way about the common people, daycare fees around here are NOTHING like $110 a day. In case you hadn’t noticed, Australia is way behind the OECD on it’s childcare and maternity leave. Way behind. In ,any industries over 50% of university graduates are women, yet they comprise less than 10% of senior management.
Why? Because childcare and maternity leave are a woman’s issue. Because it is OUR career that is affected when these things are unavailable. Because people like me had to delay their return from mat leave because THEY COULDN’T GET A CHILDCARE PLACE.
So what do you do? You undermine us. You increase the division. You reinforce the existing barriers. Cue the slow clap, Joe.
Happy Mother’s Day.
I’ve posted this email on my blog, Facebook, and I’ll think about where else to send it.  Stop letting men write women’s policy. And wake up to the realities of your electorate.  And don’t ever knock on my door. Because I’ll slam it in your face.

We made it

Well. Not a lot of posting lately.

See, I took the new job. Back in October.

I hated the new job in October.

I hated it quite a lot in November.

I thought about going back to my old job in December.

No longer could I work from home 2 days a week (down to 1). No longer could I knock off at whenever teaching was finished, because I was on a learning curve as steep as a roller coaster.No longer could I leave work, drop into the shops and pick up dinner supplies, and pick up at daycare by 4:30.

There were a lot of reasons not to like the new job. Won’t go into them here, just in case.

Then we had a break over Christmas.

Then the extra money from the new job allowed us to buy our apartment we’d been renting for 5 years.

Then things weren’t as financially stretched as they once were, even with a mortgage.

Then my abject terror at not knowing ANYTHING changed to occasional nervous wobbles, and finally to a combination of mostly confidence and a bit of “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

Then i quite enjoyed getting the ferry to work.

Then i occasionally enjoyed the intellectual challenge, and the ability to effect change in the new role.

And today, today my first exam ran. For 3,500 people  in many worldwide locations. And it went ok.

We made it. And I feel like, well, if I am not quite over the hump, then I’m at least nearing the top of it. All of pick ups, hub in boots. Most of the dinners. Hub in boots. For a while i worked 9-5 in the office then 9pm-12 am at home. Then I realised this was unsustainable and mixed it up, sometimes working 9-6 in the office and 8-10 at home. I ran a discussion board 24/7 for 13 weeks. Somehow. With a toddler climbing on my shoulders, draping himself around my neck, yelling in my ear for me to sit down and build block towers.

And sometimes I built.

And sometimes I couldn’t build.

And then, as my confidence / comfort grew, sometimes I’d just go “stuff it I’m not coming in”. I’m hosting teleconferences in my lounge room in my tracky dacks. And sometimes I knock off at 4. And today, we can get off the express train. Sure, I have to get on a different train, developing new material for the next offering, but still.

It has been hard. It has been challenging. It has been tiring. It has put pressure on all of us. But I’ve done it all once now. In education, the first time through is always the worst. I have made a huge change. A huge change. I have got this household a significant payrise. I have jumped off a pretty safe ship to a crazy one. But I’ve lifted my game, learnt 3000 new things, and opened up my horizons. I think. Big time.

Pause, breathe, and repeat.

We made it.

Once upon a time, I didn’t pause long to celebrate achieved goals, and instead went great, where’s the next goal. So I was in a state of perpetual wanting, always in motion, never still and satisfied.

I hope I’ve learnt from back then. I hope I have learnt to stop. This is a stopping point. We drank a bottle of veuve tonight. This weekend hub in boots is off to a car rally all weekend. A fitting reward for the extra work. I’m going to rebond with the jman. Take it slow. Enjoy an actual weekend. something I haven’t had since february. Smell those roses.

We made it.

Four places

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Tonight we read oh! The places you’ll go! In honour of Sully’s fourth birthday. Sullivan only lived a few short days, and every year, everyone that knew his family ,and many that didn’t, join in to remember his life and his journey.

I had a complicated pregnancy. It was long. It was harrowing. It was true trauma. It ended well. And it took a lot to get through, and a lot to get over.

I know how hard it was for me, for us, for our families, all of that hanging on. For about seven bloody months (literally). Bloody. How every little milestone counted. How at first, I didn’t understand that the relief of making it, the giant breathing out that came with a real baby and a very happy ending, it didn’t quite erase the trauma that had come before. That trauma which required it’s own time, it’s own grieving, it’s own healing. How hanging on with everything you’ve got, yep, that takes some serious refuelling time.

So I imagine, then, having gone through that, without the happy ending. And that is the end of what I can imagine. That is what my friend S must face, every year, every birth, every pregnancy, every newborn, every similarly aged child.

After my short struggle, my breath catches when someone says “so will you go for number two?”. It’d be like saying to someone who just climbed Everest “fancy a jog?”. And still, over 2.5 years later, a memory of it will stop me in my tracks.

So for S, yep. That’d be four years of climbing everests. To be walking around, and breathing in and out, you’re doing great. I understand less than 1% of it, i suspect. And while I can’t truly get it, I, we, can remember. We can do small acts to remember great heroism and impossibly wrong outcomes.

If you get a chance, folks, read “oh! The places you’ll go!” To a loved one today. Stick a photo or a comment here, on Sully’s memorial fund page. It means a lot to his family.
https://www.facebook.com/Sullivansmemorialfund

In memory of Sully. Happy birthday. The places you’ll go.

CBF

So like anything parenting, there’s a lot of methods of toilet training out there. The 3 day potty training method, timed potty stops, the follow their lead method. Most of the books assure us it’s all about timing. If they’re ready, it will be easy, if they’re not, it will be an epic waterfall of bodily fluids at completely inappropriate times / locations, possibly involving walls being painted with poo*.

I’d like to propose a new method. The CBF’d method. The CBF, or Can’t Be F()$*^d method, starts whenever your nearest mum pal has their same age child reliably toilet trained. At this point, you think, we can do this, and commit to toilet training wholesale, going out and buying copious quantities of cute appealing underwear, a nice comfy potty, a seat and steps to go on the big toilet, and a lot of washing powder. You’ve got this, you think.

You declare it “pants off Friday”. Fridays will forever be known as pants off Friday in your house. You carefully select a day when both parents are on leave from work, and the schedule and reliability of bowel movements are both delightfully open ended.

The first day, he wears the potty as a hat. You encourage, and make the potty fun. You get spectator shy dad to demonstrate how it’s done, allowing him to share in the joy that is the accompanied visit to the loo.

The second day, a wee on the potty. There is great rejoicing and the giving of marshmallows. everyone shouts ” hooray!”. Your toddler takes to weeing off the corner of the first floor verandah, onto the driveway below, thankfully missing unsuspecting passers by. “We’re Just watering the plants,” you smile and wave to them. ” hooray, I did a wee on the verandah” your toddler announces. Hooray! You say, as you move the potty onto the verandah to avoid embarrassing incidents with the neighbours. There is more giving of marshmallows.

The third day, pants off Sunday, you’ve carefully discussed poos in the potty. You’ve smiled and been very positive through minor accidents. You go out and buy a thomas the tank engine potty book, complete with stickers. This is the big day, you’re thinking.

And sure enough, without warning, he runs gracefully to the potty and whips out a giant turd. I say whips out, because, just like a soft serve ice cream, he does it standing up, with perfect aim. It’s amazing . You gently coax him into sitting next time. Everyone stands around to inspect the poo. The presence of blueberries is noted. It is tipped and flushed with great ceremony and applause. And duly hand out marshmallows.

To your surprise, he never misses, has perfect aim, and only once or twice wees in a non designated toileting location.

The next day, radiant with confidence, you bring in the underwear.

The underwear does not go well. The underwear, wet or not, feels like a nappy. So it is wee’d upon. You smile, nod, and say “hey, accidents happen! Help me clean it up!” Feeling a little like a dog trainer rubbing his nose in it. And we all smile, and clean it up.

Then we get changed.

Then we all smile, and clean it up.

Then we get changed.

Then we all grit our teeth so it looks like a smile.

Then we get changed.

Then your knees are red from kneeling and scrubbing carpet. And you’ve run out of rag towels and start using the good ones. But tomorrow! Tomorrow it will click!

“Nappy ONNNNN!!!!!” He declares in the morning. Apparently he is fearing type 2 diabetes due to marshmallow intake. He can’t take the cleaning. A truce is declared.

CBF’d, you think, reading the thomas potty book again, thinking gordon looks like a raving homosexual. Not that there’s anything worn with that, just sayin. You pack the potty everywhere you go, but your heart’s not in it.

Two days later, you’re back at work.
“Underpants! I want racing car underpants! No no the RED ONES!!! The red ones!!!! I want to sit on the potttttyyyyyy!!!!!!!”

The split second morning schedule is screwed. Because, seriously, he is one step away from a prune eating old bloke with a giant newspaper on the dunny. It takes HOURS.” We have to go now!” “I’m sitting on the potty!”

It’s time for an upgrade. You ditch the marshmallows. Roll out the lolly snakes. In an ornamental jar. And stand, eating them late at night, as you stuff clothes into the washing machine.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
“SNAKES!”
“Snakes are not a breakfast food. Snakes are for when you go on the potty. For poos on the potty.”
“Snakes!”

You leave then house. He’s wearing a nappy and eating snakes.

And you? You CBF’d. Just like weaning, it will probably happen before his 18th birthday.

“Don’t send mixed messages!” The books say. “Never look back!” The books say, like somehow nappies are a biblical Lot’s wife and you’ll all turn into a pillar of salt if you venture back into this now forbidden territory.

“Screw that” you say. I finished work at 1am and I don’t fancy a turdburger before work, strapping him in to the snuggest most spill proof nappy possible.

“We’ve reassessed, and the timing is not right” you declare, you well read bastion of bowel research.

But, really, the thought of going out like your elderly mother, aware of every toilet within 10 nanoseconds in an already insanely busy life just fills you with dread and makes you look for a paper bag to breathe into. And honestly? Toilet training?

You just CBF’d.

* yes. This actually happened. To our Friday nanny. Yes. It was jman.

Hello. Tap tap. Is this thing on?

Yes I’ve been kind of absent. Blame the new job. I’ll do the backstory. Very soon. I hope, how are you all? How is life? I haven’t even been blog lurking. I’ve missed so much.

I just thought I’d pop on and quickly share a little parenting moment.

Jman is 2.5 now. As of last Monday. We have Thursdays together, when I work from home.

This week, I felt like he was deliberately pushing my buttons (probably because he was deliberately pushing my buttons). I hate it when I try to do something “nice mum”, like giving him an empty porridge tin & putting some mung beans in it to make a noise, and he buggers it up by opening it up and spilling it everywhere and shoving mung beans down the back of the couch. Really really annoying. I lost my cool at him. I hate it when I do that. Then it cycled up into a “if we had a big house and a yard he could do messy things, and he’s missing out because he’s an apartment kid…” And on it goes. (More on this later, too. We have lots of news).

But I stopped myself. He was so so upset that I’d swept up the mung beans and binned them. I stopped. I got down on his level and looked him in the eye, and empathised. Ok. So he wanted something different out of this than I did. Ok.

We agreed to go and get the messy mat together. We agreed not to spill mung beans everywhere. Then we got more beans, and lots of different containers.

And for two hours, I kid you not, two HOURS, he sat there. He tipped, he ran them through his fingers, he clogged up one funnel so we made another, he got fine motor practice by dropping the beans one by one into the funnel, he talked about “empty” and “full” (scary bright brain, this kid).

And naturally, eventually, mung beans went everywhere. But he’d done his “play work”. And I’d done my empathising and extended his play / self directed learning. And we were way overdue to vacuum anyway.

It was awesome.

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The Sydney seige

I am way overdue on a a lot of posts. Clearly, the new job has been taking up a lot of time.

Yesterday, at 10am, I went into an hour long meeting, and my phone started going a bit nuts with messages. Mostly from my husband. I tried not to look. They were a bit vague, didn’t seem like anything crazy urgent.

We came out of the meeting to an office full of stunned mullets. Tv going, people talking in small clusters, scrolling through news sites. Isis. Sydney. I rang hub in boots.

What?

Isis. Sydney. Hostages.

What?

In the next half hour, the tv channels spoke of suspicious packages and shut downs of george st, the opera house, or a possible ring of sites around the city.

What?

I tried to sit down and work. I messaged mum to say I was safe. We aren’t close close to the lindt cafe. We are six blocks away. But I just kept thinking “the people on 9/11 thought they wouldn’t be affected. And they were.”

I posted on Facebook to test the waters. Friends, family urged me to leave. Then the comments started, almost following a geographic line through the city, as one by one those in the city went into lockdown. They couldn’t leave. I asked my bosses boss what the plan was. I passed on about all the lockdowns. Nothing happened.

At 12:10, the boss said to me you have to leave now or you won’t be able to. I called it and left, fully prepared to walk home. When the ferry was running, I took the risk and caught it home.

The ferry was full of people. Jam packed. At that stage, most other public transport had stopped. So a lot of people took their entire staff and headed for the ferry. People were sharing information as they got it. I spoke to a couple who didn’t know what was going on, having just got off a cruise ship before catching a train home to Melbourne that night.

The city had an eerie vibe. It was too quiet.

I didn’t care what the issue was, or how extensive it was, I didn’t want to be in the city to find out. I wanted my mum and sister not to worry. I wanted to see my husband. I wanted to hold jman.

I worked at home with one eye on the news all afternoon, conscious that we wouldn’t have it on when jman was around. We watched it a little bit in the evening.

I saw in horror as the twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and comments on news stories turned racist and dark. Those with closet agendas just waiting for a chance to air their narrow mindedness, to bang on the drum of their ill conceived rhythm of turn back the boats.

I saw it turn again as the #illridewithyou hash tag went viral, with people showing solidarity with Muslims trying to peacefully travel public transport, pointing to a bigger theme and an understanding we are not in the days of the Cronulla riots: that that shit is never ok.

I checked and checked that friends, loved ones, were ok.

I was saddened, surprised, deeply regretful to wake to news of deaths of hostages. A barrister, wife &mother of three. Another young and selfless man died; the cafe manager (who it turns out went to school with a work colleague’s kids).

I’ve had a few moments like this lately. Where all the shit we are mired in day to day, the Christmas lists, the dumb niggles with people, the worries, they all turn to ghosts, to something less than shadows when a big bright light is shined on them. The big bright light of “life is short and people are precious”. The one that turns drab days into high colour relief with a mere flick of the mindset. When the “I’m bored” becomes “I’m alive”. Or the “you annoy me” becomes “you complete me”. These moments in life have a significance, a gravitas, that outweighs their discomfort.

Today was a sombre day in Sydney. Two people did not make it out yesterday. Fifteen others are changed forever. The racists have mostly been hushed, sticking their small minds back into small boxes. And all day, I couldn’t wait to get home. To hang out. To just be.

Sydney might have just lost her innocence in the last twenty four hours. But I hope the post seige Sydney will continue to rise out of these ashes, and a new wave of tolerance, of compassion, of open arms for other cultures will rise and rise and rise and flood everything else, carrying the racism far far away.

Tonight my hub in boots was feeling crook. He laid down early. And I fed and bathed and washed up solo, without a hint of hurrumph. I recorded my sons silly going to bed conversation that went on forever. Later, I’ll share it.

Now I think I’ll pop into the bedroom for a while, and watch my hub in boots sleep.

Sleep safe x