Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why the holiday season is not working for me

Warning: self-indulgent black mood ahead …

1. F’s play dates are not working out well. Something to do with a disinclination to share Christmas toys by all parties, sugar overloads all round, childish hubris generated by the recent avalanche of gifts, and F’s current ‘phase’. At least I hope it’s a phase. *sigh* My birthday present yesterday was picking him up from a friend’s house to get a long tale about bad behaviour (which mirrored my experience of this trio of children earlier in the week), ended by the observation that F's problem is probably ‘his personality’. A play date he won’t be having again …

2. Apprehension about returning to work.

3. Fear of having no work after impending three-week training-my-replacement period is over. What if I can’t find a job (or at least, one that suits me more than the one I’ve given up) when I return from overseas? My friends and husband tell me of course you'll find a job. But how do they know? And, yes, this is entirely self-inflicted.

4. Rising panic at the thought of leaving my son for two months (okay, seven weeks) very, very soon while I gallivant off overseas. (What if his behavioural problems worsen? What if he misses me too much and feels abandoned? What if he forgets me and prefers his dad when I return? What if he changes while I’m away, with no input from me?)

5. Rising panic at thought of being all alone while husband is overseas for six out of the following twelve months. I’ve been all alone in the inner city with single friends and excellent PT. But all alone in suburbia with crap access to public transport and no single friends left – and working from home – seems different. (Actually, I do have one single friend but he’s an ardent clubber and I’m too tired for that.)

6. I miss my family in Adelaide. Usually I would have seen them by now at this time of year. In-laws are not the same, even if mine are very nice.

7. Apathy. Too much to do and not enough energy to do it all.

8. Deep concern about my parenting skills. Why did F have his biggest tantrum ever this week? Why is he such a smart-mouth at the moment? It FEELS like I’m always disciplining him. What else can I take away after pocket money, Lego, Bionicles, Exoforce (new Lego), dessert and any junk food or sweets whatsoever?!? What I would like is to have an independent observer come in and invisibly watch me for a week or two and then give me an unbiased opinion on what I’m doing wrong (and right) and what to do next. Of course, they’d have to share my values and broad philosophy of parenting.

9. Crappy Melbourne weather – hail, rain, smoke haze and lack of warmth. It’s hot in Adelaide, dammit.

10. Awareness that I am being a self-indulgent grump and there are plenty of people worse off than me. Including me a few years ago.


cristy said...

They all seem like reasonable complaints/concerns to me. Just because other people have it worse, doesn't make it any easier to deal with challenges when they seem to hit you all at once.

All the best Ariel.

Galaxy said...

What Cristy said. Plus there are times and places for venting, and the cusp of a new year on a blog is most definitely one of those places and times. We don't have to punish ourselves all the time. (And now I will try to heed my own advice)

Where are you going o/s?

Ariel said...

Thanks, both of you! Yeah, the blog seemed like a good place to vent - partly inspired by your Garbage Day vent, Galaxy. Hopefully it's out of the way, now ...

I'm going to the US & Mexico. And I am looking forward to it, despite appearances to the contrary!

redcap said...

You're allowed to be a grump at this time of year, Ariel. I've been utterly obnoxious for... oh. Um. About a year, now that I come to think about it. Don't beat yourself up over F's behaviour. Kids spend their time testing their boundaries. That's how they learn what not to do.

Where is the Husband going? The US and Mexico too? Believe me, I know the feeling. My other half worked in Malaysia for nearly two years just after we got married, while I tended the home fires (for "home fires" read: "the mortgage"). He also spent about three months of this year in South Africa, on and off, and he's off again the week after next. Damn boys and their funky, galavanting jobs! (At least this time I'm going for a few weeks too.)

As for the job situation, don't fret too much. There are always gigs around for writers, especially good writers like you. They may not be what you want to do for the rest of your life, but they are there, they pay and they are acceptable as stopgaps.

Ariel said...

RC, that is one helluva cheer-me-up comment. Two years! Wow. Good to know it's not as unusual as I'm led to believe. And that it can work. I bloody well hope the boundary testing teaches F something. Grrr. And yes, I need to repeat the mantra about 'always gigs around'. Every time I hear it is reassuring.

redcap said...

Well, the two year stint wasn't fun, but I survived. He came home every three or four months and I went over there a couple of times. Keep the ol' chin up.

Oh, and if you don't have time for a drink when you're in town, that's fine :) It sounds like you have lots of family to see while you're here!

ThirdCat said...

Coming in a bit late, but my partner and I spent six of the best months of our lives in Mexico (don't suppose I should really be speaking for him, but he does nod in agreement when I say it). I really envy you!

I went to London for a conference for a few weeks last year (or year before now I guess), and being a really big plane ride away from my children was a full on experience...but I'd do it again.

And maybe when you get back whatever phase this is will be over. I've been reading your posts about the playtimes and so forth, and I've got lots of the same going on here at the moment. One strong-willed little boy who seems always to be grumpy, and we're just tip-toeing around him the whole time. It's exhausting, and really you could do without input such as that from the other mother. I've got a theory, tho completely unscientific, that periods such as this come before one of those developmental 'leaps'. You know when babies can't quite sit up, or can't quite crawl and spend some time being really frustrated and grumpy? I reckon those periods of frustration continue, just the development at the end isn't as obvious as sitting or crawling. It might just be stepping up to another level of understanding, articulation and so on.

Don't know where you are staying when you're in Adelaide, but you'll probably be able to hear us yelling in the backyard as we negotiate our way through our own volatile times (remember, ThirdCat, you're the adult - repeat to self two thousand times).

Ariel said...

TC, that definitely goes into the category of lovely, utterly reassuring comments that make me very pleased I started a blog. It's always a relief to hear that you're not the only one with a child going through one of these phases - which gives you hope that is indeed a phase and not a gross (undiagnosed) failure of parenting, leading to more disasters. Not to be melodramatic or anything ...

And I love your theory, which works for me.