Friday, July 30, 2010

friday forte: so what's the real reason?

of course, this is what it's all about!
Soooooo ...... I didn't get the job. I got some great interview feedback (good performance, someone else with more experience was first choice) but not the job offer. Part of me is mightily relieved I won't be scrambling around for childcare and getting my brain back into gear, but a part of me is also quietly sad that I'm not relaunching into the fully adult, status-laden world of Real Employment.

Soooooo ...... what next?
What next indeed!
I really really really need to do something. My byline "in, around and in spite of the family in an effort to stay sane" is not totally in jest, and I suspect I'm not the only SAHM going quietly nuts with a mostly unfulfilling world around her. Don't get me wrong - I love being a mum, I'm very grateful I don't have to go out to earn the almighty dollar, it is very convenient being able to stay home and not need to contract out my parenting ...... but ......

Valerie Whiffen sums it up most eloquently in her book "A Secret Sadness: The Relationship Patterns That Make Women Depressed" when she talks about how unrewarding women's gender roles in society really are.

"It's hard for a woman to judge when she has done enough as a wife and mother. Most jobs have tangible outcomes: projects that need to be completed by a certain time, piles of paper to move from the in-box to the out-box, customers to be served, letters to be processed, or files to be closed. Seeing those outcomes gives us a sense of accomplishment. We can remember how big that pile on our desk was and feel good about getting through it. However, the achievements associated with the female gender role are fleeting: meals that take an hour to make take ten minutes to eat; clean houses are instantly untidy when children come home from school; clothes are dirty again after being worn once. The work associated with the female gender role is never really finished. As soon as one task is completed, another pops up to take its place......... The never-ending nature of the work may add to a woman's feeling that she can't do enough."

She continues, commenting that the larger outcomes i.e. parenting goals, reaching adulthood, aren't that frequent or visible short term which, in a nutshell, is what's really 'doing my head in' right now. The value I add to family life is in terms of hygiene, nutrition and childcare - all covered by the female gender role I took on when I agreed to be the stay-at-home parent. Although the work is full time (and a half, I might add) and therefore theoretically no different in terms of hours/obligations than my previous salaried life, it is profoundly lacking in any kind of meaningful feedback or sense of achievement. pomo mama design, my fledgling business, does provide some kind of creative outlet and sense of accomplishment, but it is most definitely on a back-burner with family issues coming first. Financially it would be difficult to justify spending any more time on it than I already do since it contributes very little to the household economy.

In other words, for me there has to be a 'something next'. I do need the distraction of a task or project to carry me through what is in fact a very frustrating and unsettling period of my life in which I feel of only basic value to those around me. In the past, pre-emigration, I was full-time employed - something which was a welcome relief from personal issues. Now I don't have that escape and I really do crave some kind of passion to carry me through the day-to-day, something which will make me feel valued, accomplished, intelligent and capable.  I need something to take my mind off the daily grind of thinking about how much crap is in my life currently and stop it from coming back into my parenting. I would like to succeed at something rather than continue in mediocrity as a wife and a mother. I really would like to silence the little voice that is with me constantly, constructing scenarios in which I vanquish all my domestic problems. I would like to be noticed and I would like to make a difference.

But, what to do, what to do? It is something that only I can do for myself. And it's something I really need to do for myself.

I feel like I'm poised for lift-off but not quite sure of the map yet.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

self portrait thursday

summer garb SPT
despite all the kvetching about the hairstyle (bangs or no bangs), off the face is the only real option in this heat

This is Thursday. This is me.
Just returned from a trip into the Big City (one pair of Fluevogs ordered, packaging supplies collected) back to suburban hell utopia.

So, what's up this Thursday?
Yesterday evening I had a 'date' with my Wee Guy. It was my 'make it up to you' date to him. When mummy's on a downer life's no fun for a child. We went swimming after his sailing camp. I chased him around the pool, helped him do front flips underwater and challenged him to absurd swimming races. He made me smile, really smile.

It's not fair: when I'm miserable he gets the shitty end of the stick. He gets inconsistency, irritability, apathy, silence or tears.
It's not fair: when I'm miserable I feel a total failure as a mother, my dreams vanish, I lose my sweet self, I lose any motivation for anything full stop.
It's not fair: when I'm miserable it's not the Wee Guy's fault, and he still suffers.
It's not fair: when I'm miserable it's not completely my fault, and I still suffer.
It's not fair: when I'm miserable I realise all the steps I've taken to set things on the right track don't work because it's not just me.

It's not fair.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

wordless wednesday: sadness busters

summer evening picnic, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

A few ideas to raise the corners of the mouth.

freshly painted toes

another sunny PoMo day
summer morning sunshine

clutch of chainmaille
a new clutch of chainmaille earrings

Friday, July 23, 2010

friday forte: note to self

SPT 22nd July, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

note to self: smile godammit

It's been all quiet on the online bloggy front from me for a week. I've been away on The Family Holiday (we survived: we got eaten by mosquitoes: we cycled around a lot and enjoyed it: we were in a tent and in sleeping bags so there was no nookie ....... but that's a whole other kettle of fish).

More importantly, I was offline for an entire four days!! and I didn't go nuts. I didn't crave or twitch, and didn't ditch the boys to run off to an internet cafe.

Instead I read self-help books and knitted (and slapped bugs - have I mentioned the mosquitoes?). These were not the usual self-help books (which means nothing since I don't think I've blogged about anything other than wardrobe crisis "what do i put my enormous new boobage into?" manuals).

The first book I romped through was "Speaking of Sadness" by Professor of Sociology, David Karp. It's a collection of interviews with people who have depression, curated by the author who has also dealt with it during his own life. What is different about the approach here is that the information comes first hand from those at the front of the condition i.e. the patients. There are some very candid descriptions of living with depression and facing up to treatment. What I found extremely interesting were the personal accounts of medical ie. pharmacological treatment, and the journey leading up to the decision to take drugs. On a more sobering note, almost all those interviewed emphasised that living with depression is living with a chronic disease, one with no remission, just acceptance and recognition. By no means am I as badly affected as those who cannot even get out of bed in the morning, but reading the accounts has made me realise how much it clamps down on all aspects of my life. For example, the references to isolation spoke volumes to me.

My second book on cheerful self-discovery and relationship improvement was "Loving Men More, Needing Men Less" by Judith Sills ....... I wasn't sure what was going on here until about a third of the way into the text. After an awful lot of explaining, Dr. Sills finally managed to reassure me that I wasn't on the road to becoming a surrendered wife (hell, no). Far from it, her feminist roots blazing to the fore, the reader is urged not to put up with crap, abuse or general suckage but to engineer a way of dealing with the 'relationship problems in hand' by rising above them to her own benefit (or at least that's how I'm summarising it all). There's a bit more discussion here as food for thought. And I slapped my own mosquitoes, thank you.

So ... not the usual "exotic romance" novels holiday reading then, eh? Not the usual "let's fix everything and everybody" self help manuals either. Although a little different in focus (!) each book represents a slightly new tangent for my thinking. In the first, yes I am admitting to mild to moderate depressive melancholia, but with the second I'm tackling its cause by looking at what I can change ie. my own outlook on the way I deal with the relationship issues, rather than focusing on what I cannot/have not/will likely never in a month of Sundays change.

yawn Yes, it's me, me, me, me again all the way. But with the focus that it's me that needs to grow, that I'm responsible for my own mental health, and that I can engineer my own happiness/success by concentrating on myself for a change.


PS: to all interested parties - this isn't a "get out of jail free" card BTW
PPS: the knitting? "Greensleeves" from the 3rd Sublime Aran pattern book - halfway up the front now :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

friday forte: walking the walk? moving closer to my goal

Wee Guy waves 'surrender' on the annual family camping trip

It's Friday - nominally my 'day off' this week as my Summer Fun teens class ended yesterday (thank you, young ladies, I had a blast of a week in your company). So today I thought I would have some R 'n' R (that's rest and relaxation, not rock n roll or ribonucleotide reductase in clarification, though as a full-blooded mid-life woman a little of the former with the movie star of my choice would make the wish list too).

But it's also the day before the family camping trip ..... and all you stay-at-homes know what that means. Yes, I'll be swinging from my ankles sorting 'gear' into the various Rubbermaid storage totes for our trip and packing stuff for the Wee Guy (toys and all) ..... on my day off. This year is slightly different as we're going to a 'walk-in' site - I'm not sure what kind of walk-in (heck, I don't even know what time we're checking in) or what kind of distance is involved. I could go online and check up but It's Not Me Who Booked The Trip.

yes, i even have to file the cat

Somehow, being the Shut-In Stay-At-Home has brought the additional job title of Family Organiser. I apparently am responsible for a plethora (a great word - say it again with feeling, plethora) of administrative scheduling tasks ranging from out-of-school programming to date nights, encompassing pet vaccinations, house maintenance, sex and holiday packing, and ending up with the more mundane matters of spring cleaning/decluttering, watering the lawn and pet boarding. Oh and I run a great reminder service too (round here it's called Nagging Inc.). It's easy for a family holiday to turn into 'somewhere with a different kitchen, remembering all the things I forgot to pack or organise before we left home'.

Have you read "Equally Shared Parenting" by Marc and Amy Vachon? (link below - do buy it and swell my coffers). I've been dipping in and out as I trundle round the house. It's a fascinating peek into a world where parents do indeed share everything; the parenting, the housework, the outside work. It requires a huge shift in thinking away from traditional gender or parenting roles, and requires both sexes to re-imagine living together as parents. For instance, mums could no longer use motherhood as an excuse to avoid 'going out' to work (yes, I know that sounds harsh - please do read the book to see it in context)) and dads would have to open their minds to making domestic duties/childcare a priority in the old grey matter. The emphasis is on ample communication, as well as trust in the partner to make the sharing equal. In translation for a camping trip, this would not involve one parent making the booking then being nagged asked to check through the camping gear, leaving the other parent to arrange pet sitting, packing, re-packing the "organised" camping gear, contemplating transport of camping gear into a walk-in site, packing for the child, conjuring up a mini menu and selecting store cupboard items to take in a vacuum of information. It would involve discussion (not interrogation) followed by delegation (not automatic assumption) of tasks involved to make it A Family Holiday (goshdarnit).

obscure verse
nope, i don't understand it either!

It would also be a glorious run-through for what I'm contemplating next in my life as a mother ie. 're-entering the workforce' (yes, that phrase is totally dripping with sarcasm*- one bazillion points to whoever spotted it). There is no way I can ever imagine taking up paid employment and still have all the household/relationship/parenting/childcare/concierge duties solely on my plate. I'm not completely stupid/masochistic - adding to my workload has never been part of my career plan.

Neither has being a concierge, though I think I might be quite good at it.

PS: please do remind me to type out info sheets for the pet sitters.
k thnx bai  happy holidays :)

*not a wildly correct link, but a funny one nonetheless

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

wordless wednesday: week 2 summer holidays - entertain me!

entertain me!, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

I am - he's off at camp this week while I teach :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

(more like a manic) monday

my stall at the market
hard at work, New Westminster Farmer's Market
 ... and it's Tuesday already .... but enough of the self-flagellation.

One of the hardest exercises I found at Mama Renew was thinking about my support network. Firstly, I summarised, mine is 8000km away. There's no handy popping round the corner to visit family when you've emigrated across continents. Secondly, and even more acute at the time, I realised how little of a support network I actually had in place around me. Sure, I had the emergency-type social services help which would step in until 8000km-away lil' sis could book her airfare over here to help out, but where was the 'not life or death' support in my life? Where was coffee-with-a-friend support? Where was the shoulder to cry/rant on? Where was the last minute keep-an-eye-on-the-kid help? Where was the friendly neighbour with an open house for the Wee Guy when family matters intervened? Where was the extremely short notice babysitter?

Where, in fact, was any kind of childminding full stop? I'd recently 'let go' my after school care and the Wee Guy's favourite playdates had re-emigrated or gone into fulltime after school programs.

In summary - we/I had no support network at all. Bummer (my least favourite class).

Or at least that's what I thought.
I stepped out and re-connected with a local babysitter.
We might have some playdate potential on the go.
After-school care doesn't seem such an impossibility now (indeed, after last term all concerned realise it is actually a necessity). Indeed following a hypothetical (but IRL) job interview and discussing the possibilities with mr ebb, after-school care may not be such a 'biggie".

Yes, you're correct - child care is top of my list in developing a support network. I'm willing to admit I'm somewhat obsessed with the matter right now as I consider What To Do With The Rest Of My Life. Just about any option under consideration (any sane option) includes The Childcare Question. So what do other mums do?

Well ..... it is a wee bit of a touchy subject. "It" being childcare which allows mum to fly the nest and be 'employed' or whatever. Not many of the high fliers mention much about the nitty gritty, except to say that they work late into the night after children's bedtimes. At a recent momcafe event, the nanny seemed to figure prominently in the world of "women who get things other than staying at home done". Over on Amber's blog, Sue Sinclair of Raspberry Kids was kind enough to answer my possibly intrusive questioning about childcare arrangements. Other interviews I've seen or heard in the media mention very little about working around the lives of a young family, apart from stressing how much activity goes on after the kids are in bed. I'm starting to feel that women are fed up being judged as poor mothers if they admit to any kind of extra help with the kids or are honest about needing to sleep at night for a full eight hours ... so they say nothing. There is a new kind of supermum on the block!

I'm in complete agreement however, that to be an effective mum it is important to be happy and fulfilled. This is a purely personal objective too. While I cannot understand some parenting/work arrangements, if it works for that family then I'll applaud it and probably take notes for inspiration.

The question for me is, what will work well for me and for my child? I got a very swift and surprising gut reaction to how much after-school care I feel is too much. I also faced up to how many days a week I was willing to contract out parenting to someone else. For the first time in my life I'm having to consider employment in terms of the needs of two people; my son and myself. We are still very interlinked and it has amazed me how automatically his needs have crept into my deliberations recently.
Job-hunting as a couple - hmmmm.

PS: I cry on the shoulder of my blog (though it sucks for coffee dates).

Friday, July 09, 2010

friday forte: holy crap

SPT June 12th, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

Well, in the spirit of true lack-of-time it's-the-summer-vacation-ness I am settled in Starbucks with a cup of Zen tea, trusty notebook connected to the (hopefully) trusty wireless hot spot, to roll the latest friday forte of the keyboard and into blogdom.

Yes, I'm doing it last minute.

But my inbox this morning has knocked me sideways.
Holy crap! I got shortlisted for a job interview .... next week ...... possibly Monday .....

..... so now all I can think of is childcare logistics for The Day, brushing up my editing skills and what the heck in my SAHM-wardrobe constitutes interview wear for a heatwave?

PS: I should also be thinking about the class I'm teaching next week, summer plans, a camping trip, the garage door, the guins' staycation, the cat's staycation, summer camp, marketing, making stuff and my parents' wedding anniversary.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

self portrait thursday: so how am i/are we going to get through this?

oh noes
oh noes! the summer holidays!

Yes, all ten weeks of summer vacation without the 'free' childminding that is 'fulltime' schooling in place.

Well, we have plans! I have plans, even the Wee Guy has plans. Even mr ebb had plans but his were a bit more extreme than ours so we won't mention them out loud.
We tacked a huge sheet of paper to the wall, roughed out a grid calendar and mapped out the (many) weeks we had ahead of us. The Wee Guy has filled in all his summer camps and I have added a few other activities. Alongside the calendar is an equally huge sheet with all the drop-in programs and excursions available in the area.

We're both reasonably confident we'll make it through .......... somehow.

oh noes part 2
oh noes: part 2

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

wordless wednesday: at last, a dalmation

at last, a dalmation, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

and i don't often see these around firefighters, trucks and so on!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Dear Mum

Dear Mum

There are some questions I need to ask.
Some questions that I never realised I should ask, until now.

Were there days when the frustration of endless housework was worse than the frustration of not knowing how to break out of it? Were there days where despite having been on your feet all day that absolutely no progress had been made? and there was the expectation of doing it all over again tomorrow?

Were there days after breakfast when you didn't speak to a living soul? When your first conversation began, "So how was school today?" or did you find yourself talking to yourself/the cat/the guinea pigs/the floor mop? Did they answer back?

Were there days when you envied those of us for leaving the house and getting out into the Big Wide World? Were there times when you hated us for being able to do so? And, as a total contradiction, did you dread the weekends since it would mean we were all at home together?

Were there days when you waved us off down the path to the school bus, and then went straight back to bed because the alternative of staying awake and conscious was too much? Did you ever look round at your empty house and wonder "What am I going to do all day?" Did you ever look round the empty house and say, "How am I going to do this for the rest of my life?"

Were there days when all you wanted to do was scream at the injustice and unrelenting boredom of it all? When you wanted to kick and scream at being so financially dependent and trapped? or were they tempered with calmness knowing there was a man lovingly looking after and providing for his family? or did this just make you feel guilty about being frustrated anyway?

Did you ever look in the mirror and wonder where all those years went? and more to the point, what was in all those years for you? Apart from successfully raising two daughters to adulthood, did those years mean anything to you? Can you say you were fulfilled?

Were there days when you calmed your thoughts, thinking that it would be different in the future for your daughters if they had families?

Sadly they're not
but I just wanted to say thank you for everything you did and gave up to stay at home for us.


Monday, July 05, 2010

mama renew monday: another nugget

Just a quick post today as I've got an "invalid" to look after.

One of the first tasks I took away from my mama renew mondays (geez, i miss you ladies!) was taking a pause during the evening to journal one positive moment of my day. Ugh! My first thoughts; what a wishy washy task ....... but after two weeks of getting it all down on paper (I missed only two evenings - yay me) I did notice a real difference in my thought patterns. One of my reasons for taking part in the workshop was to try turn around my extremely negative thinking and I'm happy to say that, by and large, it has worked.

My notes in my journal sum it up.

- out with the negativity, in with the positivity
- retraining the brain
- improving the mood
- changing attitude
- improving my relationship with myself

PS: most of the problems remain the same though but at least they're not eating away at my mental health and wellbeing so much

Friday, July 02, 2010

friday forte: decision time

let's go fly a kite

Sometimes a feeling has been around for so long that it can be hard to let go
even if it's for the best, 
even if it feels like it's a part of who you are,
even if you're a little nervous that you'll still be you on the other side.

Habits are hard to kick, and so are emotions.

We know a song about letting go ....... (said in best children's TV presenter style)

Lithium, don't want to lock me up inside
Lithium, don't want to forget how it feels without
Lithium, I want to stay in love with my sorrow
Oh, but God, I want to let it go

Come to bed, don't make me sleep alone
Couldn't hide the emptiness you let it show
Never wanted it to be so cold
Just didn't drink enough to say you love me

I can't hold on to me
Wonder what's wrong with me

Lithium, don't want to lock me up inside
Lithium, don't want to forget how it feels without
Lithium, I want to stay in love with my sorrow

Oh, don't want to let it lay me down this time
Drown my will to fly
Here in the darkness I know myself
Can't break free until I let it go
Let me go

Darling, I forgive you after all
Anything is better than to be alone
And in the end I guess I had to fall
Always find my place among the ashes

I can't hold on to me
Wonder what's wrong with me

Lithium, don't want to lock me up inside
Lithium, don't want to forget how it feels without
Lithium, I want to stay in love with you
Oh, I'm gonna let it go

writer: Amy Lee for Evanescence (awesome music vid here)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day - make way for pancakes soon

A Happy Canada day to all my readers, in Canada or not!

It's the start of the long weekend for some.

In Port Moody it's the start of the Golden Spike festival (celebrating our links with the railway line across this huge country) and, more importantly, our annual fertility festival firefighters' pancake breakfast morning. Each year the strong and the brave dust off their equipment, toss things deftly on hot griddles with spatulas, and ask innocently, "Would you like sausage with that?". Don't forget to check out the buns either. It runs over two days so you can go back for seconds (be still my beating heart).


... and PS: it's not just my fevered imagination. Mums of Port Moody - don't think I haven't noticed all the extra grooming that goes into getting ready for breakfast with firefighters every year .......

Dads of Port Moody - time to embrace a summer exercise routine I think.
ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!