Being strong is hard

I’ve been in tears. I’ve just upset my two oldest daughters. With my husband, Dan, away I should be offering extra comfort – not choosing this time to pick battles and talk ‘big picture’ concerns. I suppose with him away I see the ‘holes’ more clearly – it’s easier for two people to smooth them over and work around them – but when there’s only one parent the holes become gaping. The holes feel like they need repair work to allow the one parent to function.

Relaxed bedtimes – rolling to 9pm for our school girl and 10pm or even 11pm for our home-learner (she’s in her bed from 9pm) – are okay when hubbie is home. He’s worked so hard and long these past months that when his home-time for the day is around 7pm, we all want to stay up and enjoy each other’s company – not rush away to bed. Normally, Alice, our two year old, is first to sleep and then we spend time with our older girls. Dan spends a lot of time with them – reading, playing board games, computer games. I am sometimes in bed before the older girls – as Alice has been waking with one thing or another these past months – so I sleep when I can. Without Dan here, I can’t meet all three girls needs around the clock. I cannot burn the candle at both ends (and in between) and still function properly. So, on my own, I have to be tougher – when what they want is extra love in their Daddy’s absence.

My school girl is home – again – today. She’s got a cold, cough, snuffly nose etc. but there’s only so many days she can stay at home before I start feeling guilty that ‘she should be at school’. So I pushed her along to school yesterday, after over a week being absent. She was exhausted last night, but happy to come home with a challenging maths badge to work towards. She says she wouldn’t want to be home-schooled – she likes school, she likes a uniform, she prefers girls only – but she’s always looking for perfection in her choice of school – and that just doesn’t happen – in life – or anywhere. Problem is, from April she thought we might all be moving to San Francisco – now – September/October time. She had her eyes set on a performing arts school, with academics too – personally I’m not convinced she’d have the stamina (long days 8am to 4.30pm) or that it would be everything she dreams it to be. Anyway, the timeline, for a possible move to San Francisco, has been moved to June 2013 due to visa reasons (but there’s no actual date of moving set in stone.). Part of me hopes that, after Dan and the team have had an opportunity to do their job from New Zealand for a year, the firm in the US won’t feel there’s a need for us all to shift to San Francisco. If they can do the job well from here, with the occasional trip over there, is there really a need to move six employees – many of whom have families?

As much as it would be nice to be so much closer to our family in the UK I can’t yet envisage our little family living in the US. I enjoy our quiet, simple life here. We have natural beauty right on our doorstep. We don’t have to drive far to access it. We hear the birds night and day, have forest and oceans a breath away. I like the people here, the community is open, warm, supportive and kind. There’s no pressure to ‘look’ a certain way or to furnish our home in the latest fads. People focus on each other more than the fabric that clothes and homes them. But, if the move really happens – which I must prepare for – then I will seek out the positives in San Francisco (which I know will be many, just different). I admit I feel scared of the huge adaption we’ll have to all make – and I wonder if I’ll be strong enough to ease over the bumps and offer the extra comfort my children will need – whilst adapting myself. For my husband it’s easier – he’s away on his third trip over there in six months. He is excited about his new work, he’s got colleagues with him that he’s worked with for years. He’s making new acquaintances over there and already building up relationships. He’s been back to the ‘busy’ northern hemisphere and felt ‘the buzz’. He does admit it would be easier to shift without a young family – for sure an apartment in the city for a couple sans children would be a laugh – but that’s not where we’re at in our life right now.

So, back to this morning, the now. I grumbled a little that I thought my school girl should have tried to go today – and that I feel I have to take her to the doctors for a check up and a ‘note’ – or feel in trouble with the school (even though the doctor will say – she’s just got a cold / a virus / give her lots of ‘TLC’ and maybe some ‘Pamol’). She’s just entered the room and asked if we could go to the running track so she can time herself for the maths badge worksheet she came home with from school last night… she doesn’t see the irony that she’s home ‘sick’ but wants to go running round a track!

Then there’s my natural learner. Since I received the news that we’re definitely in New Zealand till June next year I have moments of suggesting she go to conventional school for a few terms (moments like this arise when she has days of ‘playing’ and saying ‘no’ to all my suggestions of maths worksheets and writing exercises). I imagine how nice it would be to have just Alice at home with me and to be able to take her along to play-groups and even a couple of terms of Kindi when she turns three. I feel like everyone is ‘getting their own way’ and I’m just servicing all their needs – whilst running myself ragged.

When my natural learner reeled out the reasons why she doesn’t like conventional school this morning – I responded with the usual answer – I have to clean, cook, wash clothes, scrub the toilets, clean up after your mess…….. endless ranting list… (quickly met with a blank response). The broken record played, ‘No one day is full of thrilling, exciting moments… there’s always a part of the day when chores and tasks just have to get done – we simply must roll up our sleeves, be positive in our minds and get them done!’.

The picture is clear.

So, right now, the house is quiet after the grumbles. The two eldest took themselves off ¬†and are now being industrious. Alice is sat close to me on the floor, watching ‘Little Einsteins’ (another ‘mother guilt’ moment – too much TV time for my two year old). I am beginning to feel a sense of calm return whilst writing this (but also feel guilty at writing at all, when I should be parenting or cleaning a toilet – or anything other than this self-reflective drivel!).

I should make an appointment at the doctors (but I don’t want to leave the house and bundle three children half way across town to be told, ‘Just rest, lots of vitamin C…. and by the way here’s the bill’.). I do need to get out the house to get more milk, bread and cat food. The weather is forecast to throw us hail and even snow on the hills later. I should get out… but Alice will be ready for a nap soon… give me strength!

Six more night’s and hubbie will be home. We’ll survive. It’s all relative. We have clean water, a warm home, good food on the table. When I look at life simply it is all so much easier. I’m going to go and make today okay.