Sunday, August 18, 2019
The opportunity to work cleaning houses sort of fell into my lap several months ago, and when I decided to commit to it, it became obviously that it would have to be as part time as part time can get. We were just headed toward Spring Break at the time, which would mean two weeks with 3 kids at home, and no one to watch them for me other than James. He said he could commit to working from home once a week occasionally, so I took on one shift per week, alternating between two clients. Eventually that changed to be twice a week bi-weekly, which was agreed upon with James as doable, since it would (hopefully) only be during holiday times.
Fast forward to when those holiday times crop up, and while I DO appreciate James’ help and I know he would say he’s amenable to doing it, I also find it not uncommon to get a particular reaction when I remind him that the week I work is coming up and he’ll be needing to work from home those two days that I go. It’s not ideal for him to work from home, and even more than that, knowing he’s also on point with the kids should they need him for anything can complicate the scheduling of meetings, for example (although for him they seem to occupy themselves for much longer stretches than they do when they’re with me, so I’m not sure they’re all that distracting to him for the 3.5 hours that I’m gone).
It causes me a lot of stress that it appears so complicated for me to work barely any hours at all, yet at the same time I also feel as though I should be working full time and generating a large enough income to justify spending shitloads of money on childcare since ultimately in order to work full time I’d need someone else doing a lot with the kids (school drop offs, pickups, after school care). For 3 kids that would not be cheap. And realistically, what job can I get after being out of the paid workforce for almost 11 years, with no real experience in my field of study, that would offset these costs? There’s NO WAY I’d be able to find something that would also justify me basically spending no time with my kids at all and paying someone else full time to look after them at Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break, Pro-D Days. And what about sick days? Between 3 kids there are a lot of them.
Do I want to clean houses forever, or even more than part time, when I also have to completely maintain our house, too, since I KNOW that would continue to fall on me even if I was working outside the home full time? No. But even if it’s what I resorted to doing because it’s easy to find work doing it, I still face the conundrum of who’s looking after the kids. If it’s a struggle to have one or two half days (not even) per week, realistically how am I supposed to take on more? I can’t tell clients that I can only clean their homes during school times and during all the long breaks I’m not available! I need to be able to be consistent.
So what am I supposed to do?! Am I supposed to go back to school to specialize in something? There’s thousands of dollars we don’t have to spend on something that won’t guarantee me a job. Not to mention how I’m supposed to be able to go to school when the hours tend to mean I wouldn’t be able to take the kids to school nor pick them up, nor be with them after school. And when I got home I’d be cooking, cleaning, and finding time to do homework when?? I KNOW PEOPLE DO ALL OF THESE THINGS. I’m not saying it’s not doable, but I’m not sure I’d have any sanity so I know I wouldn’t be the best mom to the kids, because I’d be too tired by the time I had time with them.
I also just don’t understand how it’s supposed to work when I’m the one who has to be there if the kids need a parent during the work day. James is far away downtown and is the one providing the income that pays for us to live. He can’t suddenly not be present at work on a regular basis. So it’s a situation where I’m supposed to have superpowers, because I have to be the stay at home mom that also works and does everything for the kids. That’s several full time jobs but isn’t really viewed that way by a lot of people. I’m made to look lazy or, I don’t know, something along the lines of just not pulling my weight, when in reality the situation makes it so that I’m having to pull the weight of more than one person, it’s just not recognized.
I know a lot of people are in this situation. And a lot of people are in a lot more difficult situations. I know that, and don’t need judgment as though I’m a whiny little baby who can’t seem to handle life. I know I could have it much worse. It’s just hard sometimes, because we’re put into these roles and then so much more is expected of us.
I don’t necessarily want to go back to a time where automatically my job was in the home, pumping out babies and looking after the cooking and cleaning and home maintenance, without the opportunity to have a career if I wanted one. Feeling like you’re being deprived of something creates resentment, and I agree that regardless of whether or not you have kids, men and women or just partners in general should have equal opportunities. But at the same time, opening that up and saying you can have kids AND a career and do it all also makes it complicated, especially for the parent who may have put that on hold to be home with the kids for a period of time. We also had twins, which would have been a nightmare in daycare costs, there’s no way we could have had 3 young kids in care! I don’t know how we would have managed that, or how I would have coped, especially in those early years when I wasn’t getting any sleep at all. I wouldn’t have been able to do a good job at a career outside the home. Maybe if I’d already had a career before kids it would have been a less complicated transition back into it, but that wasn’t my situation.
It’s true that as the kids get older and can be more self sufficient, it shouldn’t be as complicated for me to be able to be away from home more without the need for outside paid help for the kids. But I’ll have been out of the paid workforce that much longer by then, and will still have the issue of needing focused training in a particular field if I’m going to land a job that pays well and hopefully makes me feel fulfilled in some way - because heaven forbid I should get a job that doesn’t make me resent my life, especially after all the schooling I’ve done in the past and would have to do to re-hone my skills. I’m also at a major disadvantage by that point, given the factor of age, a huge gap in my work history, and the fact that I have kids that would obviously come first no matter what. The new grad fresh out of school with a career focus and no kids is going to look far more attractive as an employee than someone like me.
I know these things are all doable, and I know it’s in my future to have to sort it all out and somehow be able to do it all. It just causes me a lot of stress because it’s a lot more complicated than just getting a job. And I don’t think that’s always fully recognized by those who aren’t the person having to face that reality. I want to earn money for our family, and I do feel I have a lot of great skills that would make me a valued employee in the right position. It’s just complicated given my situation, and I wish it was more recognized what a struggle this can be.
Friday, July 19, 2019
For a while there I was on the fence as to whether or not to put the kids in any sort of summer camp, but in the end decided it would be a good idea for them to have some structured play time with other kids, and at the same time to give me a bit of time to do my own thing since I don’t get a break at all in the summer otherwise. This ended up being the week and it proved to be a great success. The kids all loved it, and even said they found it way better than the camp they did last year. They all wish they could be in it longer than just one week! It was the only camp I could find that all 3 kids could be in together, and the price was reasonable for what it offered when compared to other camps out there. We could only justify one week, as one week for 3 kids was $450. Which is slightly insane when I think about it. But they had so much fun that it really was worth it, and I did get some hours to myself, which is basically priceless! I knew with some of the time I wanted to spend it doing some things around the house that I’ve put off for a long time, as well as things that are better done when no one else is home. The main thing I wanted to accomplish in that regard was shampooing the carpets. I did all of downstairs on Monday morning, and that evening I got the stairs done. I took Tuesday off from that particular job, but got the upstairs shampooed on Wednesday. The carpet is in desperate need of being replaced, but it’s definitely a huge improvement having cleaned it. I’m proud of my work, it really does make me feel better to have that done, and it really didn’t take as long as I’d thought it would (although by the end of getting the upstairs done I was pretty sweaty and exhausted! It had needed a deep clean for far too long). I did take a couple of hours out on Tuesday and my mom and I took a nice stroll at BMP, which is one of my most favourite places to be. It was a beautiful, hot summer day and there was the perfect amount of breeze. We are pretty sure we saw a whale for a very brief moment, and also enjoyed watching an eagle as he looked out over the water in search of his next meal. Yesterday my mom and I went out for lunch after a bit of shopping, getting in on some good sales. It was nice to have some quality time with my mom this week. I had decided to keep Friday (today) as my ‘me day’ where I promised myself I wouldn’t focus on chores, and I wouldn’t go anywhere but just stay at home and relax and try to clear my mind as much as possible. Then last night, I suddenly (TMI alert) got The Curse and the beginnings of a migraine. I took one of my migraine pills right away, which didn’t seem to kick in for several hours, but at least eventually I got relief from the headache. Unfortunately the cramps from the stupid curse took over that no amount of Tylenol was going to cure. So I writhed in pain literally all night, with barely a wink of sleep. I was even up for a while at 3:15 thinking I was coming down with something and bordering on throwing up. So while I was sticking with my plan today of ‘doing nothing’ and just taking care of myself, I was doing so while sleep deprived and feeling generally unwell. Not quite the same as taking time out for one’s self to relax and enjoy some downtime. Then a little past 11 I get a phone call from the camp coordinator that Margaret has a stomach ache and wants to go home! So I went to pick her up, which happened to coincide with the camp volunteers setting up the hot dog hot lunch the kids would be having. At the beginning of the week when they informed us that the kids would be having a hot dog lunch on Friday, I mentioned that my kids are vegetarian, so while they could have the the drink and chips, I would send them to camp with their own main lunch item. I was totally fine with this, as I’m used to it when they have hot lunches through their school program. Then yesterday the camp leader for the girls’ class told me they would be getting veggie dogs for them as there was another child who was also vegetarian in the group. I hadn’t expected this, but was pleasantly surprised to not have to make their lunches for today. So pleased that I told James to go out for lunch today so I could be off the hook for making his as well! Especially given how I was feeling last night, the last thing I wanted to do was think about preparing a lunch. So when I was picking Margaret up and saw them setting up, I noticed there wasn’t a separate container with the veggie dogs. I asked the coordinator to verify that the veggie dogs were indeed being kept separate and she responded with, ‘What veggie dogs? There are no veggie dogs.’ It turns out that the other camp leaders had it wrong, and they didn’t have a vegetarian option after all. So I said I’d run out and quickly grab something for my kids since they otherwise wouldn’t have a lunch. The coordinator was apologetic and it was handled well, but I still needed to feed my kids! Margaret and I quickly drove over to Safeway and I picked up some pizza buns and some Yop and figured that would have to do (it’s not like a veggie dog would have been any healthier!) Meanwhile, James let me know that they had called HIM (not me, which seemed strange given I was down at the main contact person) to say someone was heading out to get a veggie dog for Andrew. I said what about Emily?! Well she hadn’t been mentioned. So I went back to the school with the food I’d bought and they said they had sent someone out to get the veggie dogs for all the vegetarians. Which was super nice of them, but omg...I could have done without that whole insanity. On the other hand, maybe it’s a good thing Margaret called sick wanting to come home, or the confusion might have been worse when my other two got to the food station to discover there was nothing they could eat! I guess it all worked out, in that I’m sitting here outside writing this while Margaret is chillaxing playing a game on my phone for a few. But it’s not quite the same as the relaxing, calm ‘me day’ I was anticipating. Note to self: Take your ‘me day’ at the beginning of a week to myself, so it’s more likely to actually happen, because it’s Murphy’s Law that getting an entire 5 days with 5 free hours is not allowed.
Wednesday, July 03, 2019
The kids all did really well on their report cards. Andrew was on the Honour Roll again. Emily got an award for her excellent behaviour. Of course she did! She’s gotten it every term since starting Kindergarten, and I can’t imagine her ever not getting that. Margaret did really well, too, it’s just that her personality makes it challenging for her to get the status needed for that particular award. Just as proud of her as Emily, though! I can’t believe they’ll be in grade 5 and grade 2 next year. They’re getting so big and seem so much older. I miss them being babies, but enjoy that they still love cuddles with Mommy. Andrew not so much, but he’ll cuddle up to watch a show or just to chat sometimes still.
We kicked off summer with the best Canada Day that I think we’d had since having kids. We used to always go to Burnaby Village Museum, which we liked for a few years when the girls were quite small, but last year we opted not to go because we kind of felt over it. Last year we went to a park and to Red Robin for lunch afterwards, which was good, but didn’t feel all that festive because we didn’t go to anywhere that had specific celebrations happening.
This year we decided to check out Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam. It was our first time ever going there at all, let alone for an event. It ended up being better than we even expected. We got there early so we got a good parking spot, which was something we’d been concerned about. Andrew enjoyed free rock climbing, the kids all got free popcorn, we saw people in costumes walking around on stilts, lots of mascots and all sorts of fun things to do. Margaret and Emily enjoyed doing some crafts and also enjoyed free face painting. I was amazed at how much was free at the event. We did end up spending on food and drinks, but it was worth it (although James spent an HOUR waiting in line waiting for 3 tornados (potato spirals) which were DELISH but we probably wouldn’t have got them if we’d known how long a wait it would be! The kids were really good while we waited, though, and I was able to sit under the shade of a tree while they checked out a few nearby booths. I love so much that they’re all at ages now where they can do things like that. Of course I’m still keeping an eye on them at all times, but I trust that they won’t do anything they shouldn’t, and they know where I am to come back to. It’s such a huge difference from how it used to be, as much as in moments I miss my ‘babies’, it’s so much easier now that they can have a bit of independence!
We spent about 3 hours at the park and then went home and had dinner with my parents. We sat out on the deck until the flying ants started to bug us (pun intended!) Every year now there seems to be a day when they rear their ugly heads and they don’t care about flying smack dab in the middle of your face. When one of them actually hit my eyeball I said, that’s it, I’m done, and went inside!
We’ve been enjoying the pool a lot already this season and I’m grateful our complex has one that we can use without having to spend a fortune. The kids finished their paid swim lessons last Friday - all 3 failed their set LOL but it didn’t matter. Andrew was in Swim Kids 5 and missed the most important class of the session when we went to the Shawn Mendes concert on June 14th (which was AMAZING and totally worth missing swim lessons for, obviously!) so he wasn’t able to catch up with just two classes left after that one. He’s decided not to continue with swim lessons anymore as he is confident in the water and knows what he wants to. I’m totally fine with that, as I didn’t even take that many lessons myself as a kid and enjoy swimming. I never intended for them to have to go all the way through every level, just to have the basics of how to swim and confidence in the water as a life skill is what my hope was for them. The girls are in Swim Kids 2, and I’m hoping they’ll take it to level 3 or 4 completion before we re-evaluate whether it’s worth it to continue.
All 3 love the water and are swimming like fish. Margaret jumps into the deep end no problem, and loves to dive down and look for toys at the bottom of the pool. Emily enjoys doing the same, but she prefers to jump in closer to the middle or the shallow end of the pool, and likes to stay where she knows she can stand up if she needs or wants to. Yes, they can now stand up at the shallowest end of the pool and their heads just pop out of the water! We’ve been taking them to the pool here since they were probably 3, so it’s been fun to see how much they’ve changed in terms of what they can do there.
We have quite a few things on our Summer Bucket List and I’m looking forward to all of it, but also loving not having too much structure at the moment. It’s so nice not having to be out the door early, fighting to get everyone to get ready and madly dashing around getting lunches sorted and everything else that goes along with school mornings. Now if I could just convince the kids to let me sleep in a little longer...Why all 3 of our kids are early risers is beyond me. They certainly didn’t get that trait from their mom!!
Monday, May 27, 2019
While we were on our trip to the island recently, a friend sent the text message, ‘Have you heard??’ My heart sank as soon as I read it, because I knew right away something bad had happened. I didn’t know what it was, so I texted her back for more info. It turned out that another friend had a massive heart attack and was in the hospital but his chances of survival weren’t looking good.
It was such a shock to hear this. He was 'older' (58) but not old enough to ever suspect something like this happening. I had just talked to him the week previous when we were collecting our flowers from the school fundraiser. I didn’t even say goodbye to him when I left with my plants because I was so sure I would see him again. I regret that now.
While I smile and say Hi to lots of people, there are only so many that I tend to have actual conversations with regularly, him being one of them. Not as much this year with our kids being on opposite sides of the school, but we used to chat at drop off and pick up times pretty much every day. Andrew goes to the same dance school as his daughter, so I associate him with year end performances. We used to work together volunteering at the school treat sales, and we worked well together. We met up at Maplewood Farm a few years ago on a weekend with our kids. Even though I was more friends with his wife and ultimately that’s how I met him, I saw him way more often than her because he worked closer to the school and therefore had his schedule tailored to drop off and pick up times for their daughter. So I saw him pretty much 5 days a week. Even if I didn’t talk to him every day, I knew he was around. And I always expected I would see him again. I’m in shock that he’s gone. He had the heart attack on Friday, May 17th, and basically died when it happened, but was officially pronounced dead on Saturday, May 25th. I just can’t believe I’ll never see him again. It’s hard to comprehend. I feel so bad for his daughter most of all, because they were so close, and I can’t imagine going through what she has/is. It’s truly heartbreaking. He was a good person, and I know how much he loved his daughter and would have wanted to be there to see all her milestones in life. I’m trying to process it, and reminding myself how fleeting life is, and how important it is to enjoy the little things while we’re here. It’s just hard to shake the heaviness of how absolute death is.