Small Victories.

I’m currently enjoying the bliss of a week off work, a week where I’m not on a tight schedule and can do things at my own pace. The bonus was having himself here on Monday and getting to do the thrilling work of reorganising our food supplies. I’d done a wee bit of stockpiling in an attempt to assuage my mild panic over Brexit so we had a lot of some things. Let’s just say we don’t need to buy tins of kidney beans, stock cubes or flour for a long time. The problem was the stockpiling had become haphazard and things had been hastily pushed into drawers and cupboards misplaced. So we now have nice tidy shelves as the result of not very much work. And I know exactly what we need to buy food wise this week which is not very much, given that we can work our way through our freezer full of meals that I prepared in advance of returning to work.

The other small victory is the steady march of baby and toddler related stuff out of our home and into other people’s homes. This week I said a fond farewell to our faithful IKEA Antilop highchair. This was probably the best fifteen euro I ever spent on our children. It has served us for a total of seven years, having been taken out for visiting children, loaned to others in need, pushed right under our table (meaning the tray was somewhat redundant) and used daily until each of our children couldn’t be left alone in it. It is a dream to clean, assemble and use and while I will miss it (oh the memories!), I’m delighted to reclaim some space and send it off to pastures new. We have a horrible plastic chair yoke we strap to our a dining chair now, but at least it takes up no extra space.

 

Small Victories.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

A long weekend, jobs ticked off the ever ending to-do list and a full week off work.

Our computer and my husband who keeps on top of IT related matters.

Cloth wipes. I won’t go into details. Suffice to say, they are pretty essential around here.

Getting out of the house and enjoying the autumn freshness and colour.

New to me books from my Chalet School buy and sell Facebook group which come with surprises like a nice fancy label showing one of them was a prize for Elizabeth back in 1957.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Tiny Sparks of Joy

A first birthday party for a not so tiny baby boy.

A tidier attic, clear wardrobe shelves and the knowledge that precious sentimental stuff is in a safe place.

Dolly at bedtime, thanks to our local library.

Enjoying the wine from last summer’s holiday, planning the next and sharing the name of this delicious bottle with the most niche Facebook group of which I am a member.

Settling into the new routine of working and home time. Being organised is boring but oh so much less stressful.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

The On and On-ness of Children

One place that hasn’t been top of the list of my decluttering/organisation/konmari “journey” is our attic. I’ve been diligent about going through all the other rooms fairly thoroughly, but the downside is that all the excess has ended up in various boxes and bags in our attic. The upside to our attic is that its easy to access. This is also a downside. It is WAY too easy to shove stuff in, close the door and congratulate myself on a tidy set of rooms downstairs.

I had a brief morning of nesting at the start of my last pregnancy and did a perfunctory sift through the baby stuff we stashed up there. I then got sick and tired and anxious and stressed, and any further plans just melted away. I continued to poke around at the space when I had a chance I was very happy with the neatness of the rooms, but a little haunted by what lurked upstairs.

Having been inspired by this post about decluttering and starting with one box at a time, on Sunday I pulled out everything but our (almost never used but won’t get rid of just yet) suitcases, the box containing my wedding dress and the beautifully organised boxes of Christmas decorations and started to organise it. Yesterday, I braved Ikea and bought new storage boxes and packed up some practical and sentimental stuff which I know we don’t want to chuck.

The kids’ stuff is the final frontier. There’s just SO MUCH of it. And we’re not even particularly indulgent about getting them a lot of stuff. It seems to creep in somehow. There’s some stuff we need to keep, some we want to keep (like the little red jacket they all wore home from the hospital) and a lot more we’d happily dump but which our children are inordinately attached too. So, this is a work in progress, but a work which has started nonetheless. Which is an orchid, of sorts.

The On and On-ness of Children

Maternity Leave

img_20190905_101455I enjoyed a peaceful, child free morning as I left Baby Orchid for a few hours to adjust to me returning to work next week. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to take almost a full year off to stay at home with him. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have been able to keep employing our lovely child minder during the entire time, so the transition is a bit easier than might otherwise have been the case.

It’s called maternity leave, but that phrase doesn’t make sense to me because maternity is the reason for the leave. If anything, I’m starting my real maternity leave next week. I have mixed emotions. This will be the third time I’ve returned to work after having been at home for an extended period with a baby. Each time I’ve toyed with the possibility of staying at home a little longer, or taking a career break, or changing jobs, or somehow otherwise mixing it up a little.

Quite honestly, I’m returning to work because I want to and because I don’t want to lose too much of whatever of my identity has already been consumed by parenting and pregnancy. I don’t want to be known solely as Baby Orchid’s mum. I want to have a side of my life that has nothing to do with parenting whatsoever. I want to do work which isn’t for my family.

I’m reflecting on the privilege of making this decision too. I am so lucky; this is an active choice, one I was able to reach all by myself. I will feel a wrench, particularly because I’m still breastfeeding and have no plans to stop so I will have a physical reminder that I’m not with my baby as much as I used to be. I’m not looking forward to the morning scramble and all the logistics of working outside the home.

I am looking forward to people using my name. And being able to finish a coffee before it gets cold. And the smiles I’ve been getting this week when I’ve returned after a few hours away. I don’t leave all of myself at home, but I can leave some. And that can feel like a good balance.

Maternity Leave

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

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Baby Orchid has been ex utero for nine months, which is a milestone in my book.

Nine months ago I was enjoying newborn snuggles and the sunrise making the bricks outside my window a glorious colour and the painkillers post c section.

I’ve lost most of the baby weight, mental and physical. It was a difficult pregnancy for myriad reasons. It was worth it.

It is amazing. What’s also amazing is that since Baby Orchid made his entrance into the world abortion has become a normal part of antenatal health care.

Knowing that women who face what we might have faced had the worst happened now have options makes me happy. Every single day.

Our family is complete.

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out