Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


returning to work

Changing shifts

They say you should be careful what you pray for.

A few of you know that I’ve been searching for a paying job for the last few months, in amongst the steady stream of visitors and birthday parties we’ve had.

Continue reading “Changing shifts”

Preparing the other me

I haven’t been blogging very much lately, although many biggish things have happened. We flew to Brisbane. We flew to Singapore. We had in-laws come over. My mother’s been well. (Hooray!) We’ve been sick. (Boo.)

We ran out and bought a new car so now I need to go back to work.

The last bit isn’t entirely fair, and isn’t entirely accurate. The new car is one of many reasons I need to go back to work. The new car is one of many reasons I even want to go back to work. But I’m still building up to it.

Lately, I’ve been racking my brains to remember what my mindset had been before I had Arddun. To remember the version of motherhood I’d believed myself capable of, Before Child. And it’s blowing my mind how differently I feel now. I remember warning Tony over and over. About how I’m not one of those women who could do the whole barefoot-and-pregnant schtick. About how all the women in my family for at least three generations have been working mums. They’d gone out. Earned the bread and butter. I’ll be like that too, I had told him. In my blood. Can’t help it. I reminded my husband, over and over, how I suffer dreadfully from cabin fever. How being a homebody would destroy me. I pictured a life of spilt dinners, soiled rags, Teletubbies and tedium. And I shuddered at the loss of independence. The seeming lack of mental stimulation. The irretrievable disappearance of personal identity.

And in part, some of those “losses” have happened these last 16 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Or at least bits of me have eroded, faded, or given way to something new. Part of me is infinitely mushier. I used to look at babies and think, “Squished little thing.” And now I peer into the prams of total strangers and sigh adoringly at their precious gifts from God.

Part of me is harder. I understand more. I feel like I have more to lose. I know I have a new great purpose.

And yes, part of me has been put away for now. The self-absorbed me, and I don’t mean that I’m less selfish now because I am still incredibly selfish at times. But I’m talking about that sense of separateness and individualism that free adults enjoy. You lose some of that when you become a wife because your life is entwined inextricably with another’s. But I found I lost a lot of that when Arddun was so very tiny and so very helpless. She came from my body, but I largely became hers.

And so for over a  year, I’ve been very happy to lose myself in Arddun and to lose myself in my family. I feel like I’ve poured myself out, which probably accounts for the constant gooey, liquid feeling I carry around inside of me. I’ve been on a high – I am still on a high.

But now my family might need me in other ways, and so I am at a crossroad. Because I’ve had to re-evaluate what I think motherhood should look like and for 16 months, I’ve been hoping the answer is something like “Stay at home forever! Or at least for 5 years! Have 2 babies! Maybe have an accidental third!”

But the other voices in my head are starting to say things like, “You can’t have your cake and eat it. Money doesn’t grow on trees. You have family you love outside of Tony and Arddun. Your world is shrinking and you’re getting insular. What about your other God-given talents? You have to stop being so selfish.”

What a twisted world we live in.

I look at my friends who’ve chosen to stay at home for their children, and I love and admire them greatly. I acknowledge their sacrifice and selflessness, I applaud their resourcefulness and economy, I love their happy products – their beautiful, Godly children. Their humble, cheerful homes. Their sense of peace and calm. And rather erroneously – even sinfully – I think I’ve been ascribing a higher value to their family choice than the choice of many other beautiful mothers who have gone back to work.

I mean, everyone says that the best job in the world is being a mother, right? So isn’t the best job in the world that of a full-time mother? And therefore, shouldn’t it follow that working mothers are not the best mothers? Isn’t that how the equation works?

That’s the guilt talking. That’s been the guilt talking for 16 months. And it’s been hard, hard work trying to look at it any other way. And then I feel HUGE guilt for inadvertently passing judgement on the many other mothers who have chosen to go back to work.

Because that’s the rub, isn’t it. Whatever parenting choices you make already passes judgement on the other options you rejected.

Very long story short, I’m preparing to re-enter the Corporate World. Which means I’m waiting for childcare to get back to me, which means I’ve talked to my boss, which means I’ve been tuning my brain to think corporatey things and I’ve been spending my evenings writing more corporatey gook. I’ve started working out clothes Arddun can wear to childcare, and ordered name labels to paste on everything she owns. And it’s been hard. Honestly? Part of me is heartbroken I’m even doing this but as the days wear on, I’ve also been getting strangely excited.

Because it feels good to embrace parts of my old self again. To flex those muscles and air out dusty rooms in the corners of my mind. Coupled with my new priorities, I feel a lot more purpose-driven about where I need to be, and where I don’t want to be. And so I’ve taken steps to shift the course of my professionally development. Just one or two inches to the left or the right. Which is more than what I’ve done for my career in the last 5 years.

The lovely thing is that I’m surrounded by many mothers who have already rejoined the corporate world. Who have already gone through the heartrending bit. Who’ve cried in a lonely toilet cubicle when they missed their child’s milestone for the first time. Who are currently managing the whole part-time work schtick really, really well. They have been such an edification.

“I am a better mum for it,” at least two have assured me repeatedly, and I believe them. I don’t think they’re just saying it to make themselves feel better. “I appreciate my child more. Every moment really counts. I’m a better time manager. My priorities are crystal clear now. And the house is a mess but I don’t care.”

And so I’m on my way.

On a completely separate note – the car we’re in the process of buying? Reverse parallel parks itself. PHWOOARRR!

Melting point

So I’ve tried baking cookies – twice, and tried baking lemon currant loaves – twice, and made my own pizza dough – twice, and tried making a passionfruit and blueberry slice – once, and none of it bombed, and so I thought, “Hey. I actually don’t suck at this after all. Let’s try and make passionfruit melting moments for tomorrow’s afternoon tea, so I don’t need to run out and buy the ones from Aldi.”

A bridge too far, that. For I bombed spectacularly.

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And while I was initially heartened by a kind friend’s assurance that “a good chef always blames the recipe”, it turns out that the actual quote is “a good chef NEVER blames the recipe”. So I got all geed up to explain to everyone how the butter-flour ratio was totally off in my book, only to realise that just confirms how REALLY bad a chef I am. Poo.

I’m at the stage now where I feel quite comfortable with the whole mother-of-a-baby shindig. Got a lovely routine going, me and my girl get along swell, got a bunch of lovely new mums to swap notes with… And so what do I do? I whip out my list. And try to add to my routine, of all things, an advanced diploma.

Velle BC – Before Child – was convinced that it’d be rather near-sighted to emerge from a year-long maternity leave without accruing at least one new qualification. So she had decided, among other things, to gun for an advanced diploma in program management because hey, it wasn’t enough that she delivered two major projects ahead of schedule while heavily pregnant. And while she didn’t quite promise herself that she’d go through with it, she had her heart set on finishing off the diploma before the year’s end.

Until she gave birth.

Velle AD – After Daughter – is starting to realise three important truths.

ONE – she wasn’t going to accrue one new skill or qualification after maternity leave. She was going to get six. At least. The learning curve of a new mother is steep as, and includes the study of physiology, psychology, diet and nutrition, and the ability to Facebook, cook, watch BBC bonnet drama re-runs, do the laundry, organise Mother’s Group, AND answer the door to get the mail (online shopping!), all while breastfeeding.

TWO – there is an opportunity cost to finishing that list. In exchange for quals that might pretty my CV if people actually cared to read it, I might have to give up precious time playing with my chica. At the risk of sounding like a sop, I love watching this crazy creature grow and change right before my eyes. She is such great company. It seems a rather obvious thing to say, but I’m not lonely when I’m with her. Hanging out with my baby is turning out to be my favourite spectator sport – just watching her figure out the world around her. Who would have thunk.

THREE – all the mothers that laughed their heads off when they first read my good-intentions list? They were right. I wouldn’t be able to get through it. Not because I lack the time – although the days are flying so quickly it scares me. But chiefly because I lack the will.


I have changed. When I wrote that list, I didn’t realise how much I would change. And I have. I am BAKING, for crying out loud. And my house is neater. And I am fatter. And I am happy. Cerebrally, I know there’s going to be another switch some time down the road, where I might suddenly wish to be back at work again. Where I’ll be ready and say, “Enough. Let’s pay the mortgage.” Where I’ll want my body back. Where I’ll crave the opportunity to create in a world where grown-ups live.

Here’s the catch, though – would I have evolved into another creature by then? Wanting to accomplish different things? Part of why I’m mulling over this is how I tried this evening to summon the enthusiasm to do my assignment – which is based on the two major projects completed this year. And a large part of me is seriously bored with it. It’s been done – rehashing the details of an old project feels like I’ve stayed back a year at school. This material has been covered. It is FINISHED. Why are we still talking about it? Next better thing, please.

Or is it all excuses?


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