Friday, September 21, 2007

Never leave a man behind

For every lovely moment there's ten of these: offhand rudeness, selfishness, kicking Nellie in the face, biting and hitting to see if she can hurt me, anger, tempers, cruelty. My daughter can scare me and she sometimes breaks my heart.

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The hardest part of walking away in the morning is the sense of betrayal. I've got two hours of frustration, rush and sometimes ugliness before I'm out the door. I have some time to myself as I walk into town and travel out to work on the bus and then I sit in my office and deal with relatively civilised adults who are more less polite. Al gets a whole day of negotiating with a two year and settling a baby. There's no break, no down time, no space. When I'm home, we're in the trenches together; when I shut the front door at 7am each morning and jam the headphones into my ears I feel like I've left a comrade behind enemy lines.

Some days I feel like my family is falling apart. Yesterday, after two time outs before 6.30 am, I left the house to go to work and cried all the way down my street, around the corner, across the park, past the hospital and the cafes, by the fountain, at the bus stop, on the bus, up the stairs and in my office in front of the computer. I think it is fair to say that yesterday I broke apart. Yesterday, I didn't think any of us could be fixed.

So I talked to my boss, spilled it all amid tears and tissues, asked for leave so we could try to get some equilibrium back. Instead, he has given me leeway to organise my work in anyway I need so that I spend time with the girls and Al gets time off. He found some support services, told me some of his own struggles with his family, and asked how the organisation could help Al. Could you estimate how many such managers exist in Australia? Less than ten, I'd wager. The crunch so many of us feel as mothers and fathers and workers can only be changed through dramatic structural and ideological shifts but some days, an individual can make all the difference.

I ended my working day crying, telling Al what we'd been given. Today, I still can't believe my luck. I wish everyone had a boss like mine, I really do.

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Today, I planted some seeds, we went to the duck park and I played with the girls while Al did some things that had been piling up. The girls were happy(-ish), Lucy was so much more relaxed, and they are both sleeping well. We realise both Nell and Lu have been stressed, maybe by our own stress, maybe by my absence, probably a bit of both. In the long run we'll have to re-visit how we manage our life and my work but for the moment there's some calm in our home.

8 comments:

VictoriaE said...

Have a good weeked Kris. I hope you get a rest and some nice downtime. Lots of kids suffer from not enough attention from their dads and yours aren't going to have that problem so I reckon they'll grow up happy.

Penni said...

I've got tears in my eyes after reading this. I so relate on so many levels, and I've been in both positions. What you say about leaving a comrade behind enemy lines. I've been the leaver and the left and I don't know which is worse.

Oh the meltdowns. Trying not to take it personally when it's all so damn personal. Crying in public. Time out. Freaking out in time out. Time out from freaking out.

I heart your manager. I send a thousand kisses winging through the universe to land on his front door. Love to your family today. Have a good weekend.

Kez said...

{{HUGE HUGS}} Kris. I hope your time off helps. You have the best manager in the world I think!

Jenny said...

Yikes, it's hard isn't it. I agree a good boss can make a world of difference. When I went back to work when my first child was just 3 months old my boss was fantastic allowing me to fix my work hours around my husband's uni hours so we could still care for our child. I was so grateful. When my son was 2 1/2 my husband started full time work and I came home full time. My son was so angry with his father he wouldn't talk to him or cuddle him. it broke my husband's heart. Things did gradually get better as my son realised that dad would be home every evening and they spent lots of time together. It's never easy Kris and I hope it gets better for you soon. I really believe you have to follow your heart and support each other as much as you can. Have a restful weekend , both of you.

Gemini said...

I can definitely relate to you: being a parent has been the most reqarding thing I've ever done, but it's also been the hardest and most frustrating! You are one step ahead of the game with such a wonderful boss; sending you lost of positive vibes for creating a more calm and peaceful home :-)

Janine said...

Yikes! You're doing it tough at the moment Kris. I'm glad Mr B has given you some time away from work. Take care and remember you have friends who love you and will always listen to you talk, cry and laugh.

Janet said...

I nearly cried reading this yesterday. In the midst of our own brewing meltdown, I didn't have time to write anything. We're going through some big mummy being at work or away issues at the moment too. And it's so hard. I know whoever it is at home has a hard time, because looking after two year olds (not to mention a 2yo and a babe) is difficult. But it's also hard coming home and not being keyed into what's happening, or being at work and not being able to help at home. I've also noticed that when G was working full time and I was at home, he had less expectation that of managing what happened at home than I do now. Not in a bad way, but certainly different.

Your manager sounds really good. It's so important that these work life balance issues are taken seriously.

Kate said...

I wonder how many men would ask for down time to help their wives who are at home all day with littlies? Not many I bet!

Your boss sounds amazing, and good on you for asking.