Yet another challenge

I’m beginning to think that life is just a series of ridiculous challenges. Trying to do something but in order to do it you first need to do something else. This means you have to do a bunch of other things too, things you never though you’d do. I never thought I’d put my kids in care. No matter the cost, I’d manage to keep my kids with me until they started school. I didn’t do too badly in that the Dude was never in care. Thumper got her first year with me.

Coming to Canberra, we knew we could earn solid pay. We didn’t think much about the cost of daycare. But we should have. Getting our jobs was one thing, and happened so fast, as I wrote about before, so we needed fast daycare as well. We were fortunate enough to find someone who could do the week for both kids in family daycare. It wasn’t the perfect situation, but it may just work and at least it was there. So we signed up and agreed to start them on Wed. Little did we think that the cost would be far beyond what we could possibly afford.

To top it off, neither of the kids wanted to go. The daycare lady had a rather old, dark, cold house and lots of outdated toys. She didn’t speak great English which was a challenge but not the end of the world. I think the kids just didn’t gel with her. The Dude has been getting progressively more and more bored since finishing school over three months ago and although initially excited about going to daycare, he was disappointed after the first day. He was asked to lie down and have quiet time while the little ones napped which he didn’t like, that was his main gripe. Thumper, who never used to want to leave daycare in Canada, suddenly developed separation anxiety and screamed from the moment she realised I was leaving her. Overall, it was a bit of a disaster.

Once we realised the exorbitant costs, we immediately pulled the kids out. It was a tough call because the lady had been so accommodating at the last minute. I felt sick at the prospect of having to tell her. I desperately posted on a local Facebook page and among the replies asking confused and repetitive questions about why we don’t get rebates for daycare (we definitely don’t), I had a few people telling me to message them about solutions. One of them, a young mum, turned out to be a real godsend. She agreed to look after the kids three days a week at our place for a reduced rate and another lady is going to look after them the other two at hers, subject to meeting her this weekend. It began to seem like it might just work.

But today when we got home after the first full day leaving them with this lovely mum, we began to doubt that it was going to work. The kids were a nightmare. They didn’t listen, they had meltdown after meltdown, they were rude, disrespectful, aggressive. Thumper refused to nap. Dude refused to turn off the tv. Another disaster ensued. The mum was, frankly, a saint. She pulled out every trick in the book but ultimately the kids were just behaving terribly. She has bravely agreed to continue, but to be honest I can’t see it lasting, unless something changes significantly.

For my part, none of this feels right. I want to be back in Canada and I know we need money to do that, but being with my children feels more important somehow. Gosh it’s hard. I don’t know how we’ve ended up in this situation but I’m going to do everything within my power to fix it.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2012

I know, it’s not exactly an original topic for a blog post, but hey, I need to jot them down and by putting them here I feel as if I will need to stick to them more… or something.  Anyway, humour me, here they are, in no particular order:

1. Try to get the Dude into a routine.  This means getting his meal times a little more sorted out, as he’s a hungry boy but only when he’s not too tired, and also getting sleeps happening on more of a schedule, as I think he’ll respond better to that and I might actually get some peace. I’m getting closer to achieving this already, given that he now has 12 hours sleep a night (mostly) and a clear two sleeps per day, and I can roughly predict when they happen. Roughly.  I’d like to get him into going to bed earlier, as currently he goes down between 8 and 9 most nights, although saying ‘goes down’ implies that I put him to bed and he stays asleep for the night, which never happens.  He is slowly improving, but most nights I spend a good half hour to an hour settling him down the first time, then have to go in twice to resettle before we finally go to bed about 10:30 or 11.  My mum says I should just get over the fact that I can no longer be a ‘night person’ and go to bed early with him.  I’m still in denial.

2. Finish NaNoWriMo.  I’d like to finally do this, having attempted and failed for a number of years now.  I’m not sure what it will take.  Actually that’s not true, I know exactly what it will take: some discipline, daily targets, sticking to a routine.  Refer back to number 1.

3. Study.  I really want to do my Masters.  Probably Arts, probably creative writing or life writing.  I’m also thinking about finishing off the Grad Dip in Editing and Publishing I started a few years ago.  That way, I might actually be able to start working towards my dream job, editing books in a publishing house.  I realise that now I’ve left work to have the Dude, I have a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity to rearrange my career into something I actually want to do, instead of constantly being branded a ‘project management professional’ or being offered marketing jobs, which I’d frankly rather chop off an arm than consider.  The marketing and advertising machine and all who sail in her totally shit me.  Although I do like watching The Gruen Transfer.

4. Get a job.  Money is really tight.  I’m talking really tight.  Okay so it’s not to the point where we have to ration our food or stop eating meat or can’t ever have takeaway, true, but it’s not great.  And me not working is making it super hard.  It’s hard for me because I have this mortgage and all these bills to pay but no income.  Actually scratch that, I have Centrelink and their awesome $24 per week.  Strangely enough that doesn’t suffice.  So I need to start earning an income again and I really don’t want the Dude in care just yet as I don’t want him catching all sorts of colds and diseases from all the other vaccinated, non-breastfed, chemical-ridden kidlets, and I also don’t think it’d be good for him to be away from me for that long, so it’s going to have to be working from home.  Which is doable.  I just have to find the time.  Refer back to number 1.

5. Write more.  Yeah, this one always makes an appearance.  But it needs to be there because I do need to write more.  And by writing I mean working on actual stories that will one day be published, not blogging.  How I’ll ever find the time is beyond me, but I must have this one in the list just in case its presence helps make it happen.

6. Blog more.  I go through phases of being really good with blogging, but then I slack off or Christmas happens or I forget or the Dude has a hard few days or weeks or some other shit goes down and I forget I have a blog for a while.  I would like to blog at least once a week minimum, preferably more.  Again, no idea how I’ll find the time but I just have to.  I read all these blogs by all these other awesome mums and think, how do they do it?  But they don’t have the Dude.  Although The Feminist Breeder is one that I am pretty amazed by, her baby is currently not sleeping at all at night yet she still manages to blog and presumably do all her other stuff like work and study and be a mum to her other two kids and a wife to her husband.  But she might actually be an Amazon.  That’s what I think anyway.

7. Move house.  This isn’t much of an actual resolution, but I want to have it in there because it’s something big that will be happening next year and it represents something bigger for me.  I guess it represents a compromise, but at the same time it represents a new phase for us as a family because we’ll finally be in a new place, an actual house, and even though it’ll be in shitty Sydney it’s one step towards what I want.  A small step, but a step nonetheless.

8. Refinance the mortgage.  This has needed to happen for a while, pretty much ever since I let the fixed interest rate lapse and started paying way too much to a stupid finance company in WA who handle my mortgage from a bank in Adelaide for my house in Canberra.  Yeah, makes no sense.  I’m close to getting this sorted, although it means husband taking it on technically as he’s the breadwinner, but by marrying me he gets half the house anyway so I figure that’s fair enough.  Once I’ve done this, I’ll be paying so much less that the rent will more than cover it, so paying bills will be a little easier.

9. Discharge all debts.  This one is important, not just because I need to be debt free, but because I don’t want to end up with a terrible credit rating like my dad and be unable to ever get a loan.  I also hate the stress of bills and debts hanging over my head, and it’s particularly hard because what is hanging over my  head is automatically hanging over husband’s head and he doesn’t need all that.  He shouldn’t have to pay for my inability to manage my finances.  So I plan to get a little extra money when I refinance so I can pay off all the debts and consolidate.

10. Refurbish my house in Canberra.  I’ve needed to do this for a while, and just recently when the carport randomly collapsed I realised it needs to happen in the new year.  The house is nearly 40 years old, and although the kitchen and bathroom were re-done not long before I bought it in 2005, that was six years ago now, seven actually, so it’s definitely time to do something.  I shudder to think what it’ll cost to deal with the issue of the water leaking from the bathroom upstairs through the ceiling of the laundry below it, but that has to be tackled.  In addition there are a few other things like a pergola that I’d like done.  I need to speak to a real estate agent to gauge just what I need to do in order to improve the value without over capitalising.  As it stands, I have great equity in the place and excellent tenants, so I’ve done well.  But if I don’t do something soon it will all fall down!

11. Collect all my stuff from my shed in Canberra.  Back in mid 2007 when I went to London, I sold a lot of my stuff, but the stuff I didn’t sell or give away that I still wanted to keep; important stuff; stuff with sentimental value. I packed it all into my little shed in the front garden before I left and when I came back in January 2010 I peeked in.  It was all still there.  That’s as far as I got.  I haven’t been back.  When my tenant rang to say the carport had collapsed, I thought she meant the shed.  It’s not exactly the most stable building in the world, just a little tin shed someone bought from Bunnings.  I can’t believe it’s still standing.  And I wonder what state my stuff is in!  There’s so much important stuff in there, pictures and stories from my childhood, an Edwardian sideboard that was in my parents’ house which I always meant to refinish, some random art projects, all my artwork from my year at art school, probably even books that are no doubt damp, mouldy or eaten by insects… There’s so much stuff I can’t even remember half of it.  At some level I’m looking forward to going through it all, the process of rediscovery, but the thought of seeing just how much it’s been destroyed and then trying to work out what to do with it and how to get it where I want it is not appealing at all.  No doubt I’ll update about that at some point…

So that’s it.  Bloody long list!  Only I could write 1500 words on my new year’s resolutions…