Monday, March 05, 2012

Bear starts school, and everything suddenly....

Exit bankerworld. It started tugging at my sleeve during transition, and has crystalised during the first few weeks of school. The difference.

The difference undermines your settled sense of balance. Sure, it bites that we can't be there more often, leaving the kids with others several days a week, but hey look everyone else's folks are in the same boat.

Except they're not.

Our mostly professional friends, the members of Beloved's mother's group, and importantly most of those other parents at our lovely, supportive, arty, just-right childcare centre all seemed to share the struggle. It was life, inevitable, we were just part of the flow. And compared to many fellow travellers we had things on a reasonable keel. I had my 4 day week for ages, generally I'm home before bed time, we both do some work at home, but if you're comparing with barristers, bankers and businessy whatnots who hang out for rare quality time when court is cancelled or the deal is done early, and otherwise bond by 'taking the child to swimming classes' on Saturday, it looks fine. Enough. (ignoring that nagging voice in the deepest part of your parental soul).

Bankerworld was buried down at the opposite end of our council's jurisdiction. The end where all the streets have speed bumps or signs telling you not to turn between 8 and 9am (in Melbourne this being the surest sign of money and influence). Beemers top and tailed with Lexii.

School is at the other end, where we have moved to. Sure there's a banker or two, there are also teachers and nurses, artists who can't afford that other end which abuts so many galleries and bars they ply their trade in. A farmers' market. And people who don't work, some of them men, and others who work nice, soft, genuinely flexible hours, allowing them to spend real time with their children, drop them off, pick them up at 3.30pm, attend those parent morning teas and twilight sports events that are not scheduled to work with Collins Street.

Like the one scheduled for 5.30- 7.30pm that I arrived half way through to be told I'd missed almost everything. In my office arriving at 5.30 means leaving at 4.30 which is like taking a half-day off.

Like the drop offs and pick ups largely being done by the au paire. Daddy I want you to drop me off said Bear, my little mate, and I can't and I want to. And the frustration of being told we can't afford to live on my income, which is well above the national average, so Beloved won't ditch her job, but she - understandably - doesn't want to go full time either so I'm rather stuck and,, at our friendlier, more corduroy, farmers' market-hosting school, we are now in the minority with our au paire, our expected shift into after school care, our turning up late to things in a suit. There is a community here, and I like it a lot, and I want at least one of us to be able to settle into that community, that pace alongside our children.

There are certain types of job that own you. Lawyer, even if part-time, or working for the government, is like that. Everyone is out to take your job, or file that urgent notice to produce documents when they know you're on leave. Two people in jobs that want to own you is a bad recipe.

My hours of themselves aren't ridiculous. I could work slightly more, in fact, if it meant Beloved could be there all the time. What I resent now is being trapped in the mid zone where neither of us feels we have room to move, or give. It is, to be technical, plainly shite, and now we can see that there are lots of other people who have rejigged something and made a bit more room in their lives to be human. I am buying The Age again, flicking across pages of community, teaching, local government jobs, for ideas, for either or both of us...


The Accidental Housewife said...

I think society sells us a bill of goods (get a prestigious career, work hard, make money, buy things, it will make you happy) and we believe it, when everyone around us is believing it too.

But then suddenly you see others living outside the established rules - working less, earning less, but actually happier - and it's a rude shock. We've been had.

We're downsizing. Smaller, older car. Fewer extracurriculars (does a fifteen month old need kindygym? Probably not.) Getting more organised at home so we fit in a smaller house. All so we can work to live, not the other way around. It's tough, though, when our friends still have all the newest shiny everythings.

Helen said...

That sounds terrible - you can't leave at 4.30, ever? even for a doctor appointment or dental emergency? Even if you start work early?
The developers where I work often whizz off to these kinds of things and they're not exactly base level pay, either. It must be a lawyer thing.

Armagny said...

Ah, I shouldn't overstate it to that extent - yes, can leave for emergencies, and can (with some quizzical looks) leave early to pick up from school etc from time to time.

I want to do it a lot/most of the time is more the gist. Or at least for one of us to have a job that allows such...

The Accidental Housewife said...

I'm linking to your blog from mine tomorrow... Hope that's ok.