My week has ranged from the minute to the massive.
We’re battling sleep again (which feels massive but is, in terms of dinner party conversation, even less than minute). She ate solids for the first time; minute in a lifetime of eating but massive for a small mouth that’s only ever tasted milk and whatever lies on our floor. Massive eyes, too, when that burst of flavour hit for the first time (again: Daddy Doppelgänger). A conversation yelled across our busy road to a new friend, also the parent of a wee bub – it lasted about a minute but made me feel part of a neighbourhood, supported. It may also have been my only adult conversation that day which is becoming normal but remains massively incomprehensible in comparison to my past life.
Parallel to the churn, there’s been a formal offer from Switzerland, and the ensuing punch of reality. (Also, lots of number crunching.) Some big decisions to be made and correlating consequences to deal with. There’s a potential family illness which has brought with it a range of conflicting emotions, none of them what they (technically) should be. There’s been a birthday celebration for my sweetheart. There’s been high levels of stress and seemingly endless time to be stressed in, which feels like an odd juxtaposition and possibly one of the circles of hell.
For the first time since finishing work, I’ve felt that I am on the outside. (Not that I can articulate what the inside is; I just don’t feel I’m there.) Tim’s thick in negotiating around the transfer – of course my opinion matters, but it’s not my negotiation to orchestrate. For someone used to being in control, this is unbelievable frustrating. My life is focused on tiny daily battles and successes (she keeps having poonamis in public! She likes pear! There may be some correlation!) but these are not powerful things. They don’t give me any sense of control or direction – quite the opposite. And this shouldn’t matter, in some ways, but this week I’ve sort of felt that it does. (Also: it’s not that my work was all that, either. There were days, weeks, maybe even years of public service nonsense that I sat through like a bad farce, so I’m not idealising my time there. It’s more that I had something that was external to the operation of our home and the beautiful, boring intricacy of our lives.)
To balance this, I’ve been trying to catalogue the things I’ve done for myself this week. I love the things I do for the baby and my family, and I’m not necessarily asking to change it. I just wanted to remind myself that I have that time, that it can be taken and used as I wish. I get a shower every day – of varying length, but it’s there. I’ve started reading Station 11 (from that Writers’ Festival panel) and I’m engrossed in it. If I’m honest, I’ve shamelessly watched several hours of exceptionally embarrassing television (and have more lined up). I’ve planned meals and cooked, the chore that brings me the greatest calm and satisfaction, such that it’s no longer a chore at all. I have spent more time that I am prepared to admit on social media. I went to the grocery shops yesterday by myself and actually stopped to get petrol to score more alone time. Desperate, but enjoyable nonetheless. This doesn’t include the ‘things for me’ that the baby comes to – we could add mothers’ group and coffee and the pub to the list if this were the case.
Clearly, I am not hard done by. I’ve got time and the capacity to direct it; I’ve just chosen to use it somewhat poorly. Perhaps this is why I feel on some imaginary outside. It’s not that I need the external interaction to be validated; I am possibly letting myself down with the small daily choices I make. I mean, really, the FaceBook stalking that has occurred over the last week borders on pathological (although it’s also awesome). So rather than jump to the conclusion that I should return to work, to uni, to some sort of life outside of this one, I want to focus on making decisions that will help me feel more in control. Maybe it’s an afternoon run. Maybe reading articles that don’t appear in tabloids. Maybe listening to more podcasts, if only to improve afore mentioned dinner party conversation. This might not work and it may be external reinvigoration I need, but it’s worth a try. Right after I polish off the sticky date pudding while watching an episode of Scandal.