Some days things get the better of me. Usually just about the time I take a moment to stop and think, well isn’t everything going well. Murphy’s Law 101. There have been times when my answer to anything remotely hard is an overwhelming urge to bury my head in the sand.
As life would have it, this is never really the wisest of solutions. As much as hiding away would be the quickest and easiest solution, it’s not going to get anything sorted. So, onwards it is.
This is why I was up at a somewhat early hour yesterday morning tackling an issue. It is why I made a flurry of notes, researched, found old notes and texted some people with an SOS. It is why by 10am I had six hand written pages, about as many tabs open and a cold cup of tea.
It is also why that afternoon I had time to bake. Anzac biscuits and another batch of bread. The problem had not gone away. Rarely, if ever are things so easy to solve. But I am underway. I have information, resources and a way forward.
I have some space in my head for other things. My shoulders are not as high and tense. My neck, not so achey. There is a way to go, but for now, there is a plan. So while I mull over ideas, think on what has been planned and where to go now, I medicate with the simple movements of mixing and stirring, forming and baking.
Things are rarely all going well, but there is always time for baking.
There are some days when a walk and company are all that is needed.
There are days when the best company is none at all.
There are days when you decided to stay, have one more glass of wine with a friend. To walk, leaving the car to be collected the next day. You head through their garden, out the back gate and down the road to home.
Shit is getting real people. Shit is getting real.
The oh so very pointy end of the year is here. Meetings in overdrive, reports being written, ends are being tied, hopefully tightly. Nothing messier than unravelling ends.
As I type flashes of henna from my palm appear. It makes me smile. Music plays from the dock on the top of the fridge. The washing machine hums and spins.
Thoughts fly. Hearts pump. Lungs fill and deflate.
The pointy end is here, and I am not ready. I need time. I want to hold out my henna inked palm and tell the world to just stop. Please. Just for a while. I’m not ready.
I need to run. I need to ride. I need to slow down. Move more. Rest easy. Keep going. Eat less. Eat more. Sleep. Sit in the sun. Brew tea.
I am angry at the universe today. I am rebelling against it by cleaning the toilet in good clothes. I am playing music loud and throwing caution to the wind. Take that universe! Get bleach on me as I scrub the loo. I dare you.
Some days are better than others. It’s the way it goes.
Thoughts fly. Hearts pump. Lungs fill and deflate.
We get up, we get on. It is the way of things. Tomorrow, so the cliché goes, is another day.
Here’s the thing. Some days I am completely over my job. The being surrounded by children. Repeating myself over and over and over again. Sometimes I’d like to be able to wear heels and a pencil skirt. Have nail polish remain chip free for longer than twenty-four hours. Like to stay in an office and not need to think about hat hair.
But mostly I love what I do. Love being able to watch as children think about what infinity is. I can not believe I get to watch as children roll out paper from one end of the room to the other. Roll it out the door, through the hall and into the next room, just so they can write down impossibly long numerals. Seeing minds at work. Being a part of learning. I get to do that each and every day I go to work.
Sometimes I get bogged in the never ending administration. In risk minimisation plans, policies, meetings. The fourteen hour days and the relentless noise.
But mostly I love that I get to be a part of so many lives. That I get to be outside (even with hat hair). I can add my shoes to the pile in the specially marked shoe basket. Have my feet covered in sand. Wonder with my charges at the seeds in the vegetable garden and the way the cactus grows.
Yell, what’s the time Mr Wolf? Into the wind.
I am lucky. I get to see the world through the eyes of four and five year olds. Together we marvel at the way paint and a brush tell a story. How a single piece of material can become a hero, a princess, a cat…
I love what I do. But I am tired. The end of the year is coming. There are reports to write. Concerts to get ready for. Goodbyes to be said.
I will wake each work morning and get ready. For the paperwork, the children and the time I have left.
I know they are ready to move on. I know they need me no more.
I will say my goodbyes quietly to myself as I watch them all leave.
I will smile as I walk across the yard, children out growing me calling my name, ‘Naomi, we are in big school now!’
‘Yes you are!’ I’ll call back. ‘You are so big now!’ I will add.
And with that, I will walk on by, my job being done.
I am over my job.
But I love what I do. And that is the way it should be.
There is a saying in our family. Usually said on a particularly good day. When things are slow. When not much gets done apart from a drawn out lunch, an afternoon snooze or sitting in the sun drinking wine.
In a quiet moment, when appetites are sated, skin is warmed and eyes half closed, ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing’ will be said. Dad’s voice filling the air.
The usual reply, ‘it’s a hard life’ from one of us.
Is there money? None to speak of. But wonder we do.
It’s a hard life.
It is part of the way we get by. Especially when things are hard. Because sometimes things are.
We are rich. In arguments and laughter. In that we love to be together and apart. Miss each other and piss each other off.
We are not perfect. When we argue people in the next galaxy know about it. Children and grandchildren hear more than their share of swearing. They hear a great deal of tear inducing laughter as well. It’s a hard life.
A few years ago my parents came to stay. I had a day off and the kids were at school. We drove into the hills and had a late lunch. We sipped red wine and sat in the sun. As a waitress came to our table Dad spoke, to no one really. ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing.’
The waitress took offence. ‘Well they are all at work getting paid I suspect.’
I wanted to go after her. Explain. How my children had been uprooted from everything and everyone to live in a different state. How my parents worked hard all their lives; how they still did though Dad was past retirement age. That this was a day off for us all. That if she looked, if she listened to the tone not the words she’d have known.
But I didn’t. I had a rare moment of being an adult child alone with my parents. I had a glass of wine and cake. There was sun. School pick up was an hour away.
So I sat. I sipped wine. Ate cake. I wondered what the poor people were doing. It’s a hard life I replied to no one at all.
Just one more day. One. Getting out of bed each morning is an extreme sport. Seeing just how many times I can push the snooze button and still be at work on time is all that gets my adrenalin going.
Just one more day until term break and two weeks of no alarm. Two weeks of mooching. Perhaps a movie, a trip to the city. And books reading lots of books.
I am beyond tired. I held it all together until the beginning of this week when I began to slow down a little and realised just how tired I am. How tired we are. All of us. My daughter has her school production this week. Dress rehearsal, a matinee, two night performances. She fell over in the playground. Has grazes on her knee, arm and head. Her shoulder and hip is bruised. She talks about it in a tired, shaky voice. It’s not like her. To fall or to be this bothered by it. A sure sign we need a few days on the couch watching movies. Some hot chococlate, some home baked cakes and low lighting.
In the meantime, as we drive to and from performances, to and from work and school, we are turning to music to keep us going. This is not the week for gentle, folksy singers and their hushed, soothing words. This week calls for guitar and loud voices.
So, each day as I drive to work, each night as we drive to a performance we have turned to The Black Keys.
We car-dance. We shoulder shake our tired bodies into just a little more, finger tap our way into believing we can keep going just one more day. And we are almost there.
And this, this is my favourite. My feet may be all brake, clutch and acceleration, but in my mind I’m dancing, just like this guy.
People who know me know I like a tidy house. It’s never perfect, there is always some stuff hanging around. Like the ever present pile of magazines, school notices, mail, hair clips, pens, nail clippers and so on strewn on the kitchen bench.
The kids’ lounge is a tip by default. Remotes tossed on the floor, homework piled on the desk, school bags and shoes scattered from one side to the other. The ironing pile. Not that anything gets ironed all that much.
We are lucky to be living in a large house at the moment, so I don’t care how much of a cesspit the kid’s lounge is, or their rooms. I am not in there much. Plus the doors can be closed. Out of sight, out of mind. Besides, it is their job, not mine, to tidy these rooms.
I keep the main lounge neat. I like it that way, as well as the sunroom. It’s nice to be able to relax in these spaces without eyeing things that need putting away, folding or sorting.
Then there is the bedroom.
I have a theory that the state of my bedroom mirrors the state of my mind. You should see it in the school term breaks. Bed made, clothes away, surfaces dusted, floor vacuumed. It’s so lovely in there the curtains are even opened.
Next week is the final week of term. The bedroom resembles my tired brain. Needless to say, the curtains are not open.
The house is old and our bedroom has a fire place. The mantle is still there, thought the fireplace itself has been plastered in and makes a great shoe cupboard. Not that any shoes are in there that have been worn in the past week or two.
The mantle itself has a beautiful framed nude Hubby’s grandmother drew. You can almost see it behind the piles of half folded clothes.
The bed has a beautiful handmade quilt. You can kind of see it under a crumpled doona and clothes that were hurled upon it in a rush to get dressed. Clothes that were on the floor or the mantle before their new resting place. Clothes that you can guarantee will be back on the floor come nightfall.
But words are not enough.
So, without further ado…
Behold. The view from atop the bed head.
No instagram filter needed for this fine art photograph.
Inspiring isn’t it? I particularly like the juxtaposition of the lime green scarf on the dust bunny filled carpet.
Note the ironic hanging of a clothes hanger from the mantle support with a hoodie hanging over, but not on the hanger.
Not to be outdone by the irony symbolised in the piles of clothes obstructing clear vision of the nude.
Life is art people. Life is art.
I would like to say there will be an after the holidays post, showing a clean, dust free floor with all clothes in their rightful place. I’d like to. But I won’t. That would just be silly talk.
It is no secret that my work and home life have collided into one huge twisted mess of anxiety and stress. Illness, extra work hours for Hubby and myself, a child dealing with the demands of high school have made for a rocky last few months.
But I have choices.
Yesterday, though not the longest work day in the past few weeks was my break point. My options were to let the stress take over or get on with it. I chose to get on with it.
But with that came another choice. Get on with it while acknowledging the stresses pressing in from home and work, or ignore them.
It is said ignorance is bliss, but I don’t believe so. Ignoring something means you have already noticed the issue to begin with.
With what felt like the weight of the world on shoulders that are fairly slight, the choice was mine to make. Ignore or do. The way I saw it, the best form of defence was to get on with things. Do a good job at work and at home. It was that or crumble. I’ve done crumble. Picking up the pieces was a long process.
Doing for me does not mean head down, ploughing on through. It means saying hello to the biting anxiety, acknowledging it is there, and dealing with it. The dealing with it becomes part of my doing. Part of the life, work, home balance.
The doing means remembering that some days are a wash, best left to their own devices; whether through ignoring the washing pile, getting take away or closing the office door at work and spending time instead re-setting play spaces. It means knowing that some days emails need to be answered, phone calls need to be made and paperwork tackled. That some days will be 14 hours long, and some blissfully short.
For me, if I am to do a good job in all parts of my life, my doing needs to be like this. Ignoring one part does not work. Letting the stresses and anxiety be heard helps me keep my head above the water, or on a bad day, lets me sit under the waves in a calm sea, letting the waves break over, but not on me.