Monday, February 27, 2012

Working Away

We've been in New Zealand since mid-October. The original plan -- such as we plan anything any longer -- was to get DrC settled into work, the girls into school, and then I would begin the long slow process to rebuild my consulting business. When I say rebuild, it is perhaps an exaggeration. For most of my consulting life, I have made little or no attempt to be fully employed. Usually, I use contracting as a method to work part time at things I enjoy so that I can spend the rest of the time doing tasks I truly love. Whether it is raising babies, homeschooling little girls, or sailing big girls across oceans, I realize now that contracting has been for me a gateway to spending time with my children.

However, now my children do not really need me so much any longer. They need the love and the support, sure. They don't really need me to wipe their noses or pick up their toys. Granted, I didn't really ever spend much time wiping either noses or toys. I remember wiping a lot of asses, actually. Come on. You were thinking it. Someone needs to have the courage to stand up and say, "Children are about butt wiping." They are not cute or fluffy or particularly fun, especially not in those early years when the quantity of crap flowing out the back end is truly mind boggling. Seven straight years of diapers and look where it got us… ten straight years of high school girls. I am somehow failing to see how this can be interpreted as the golden statue for Lifetime Achievement in Diaper Pinning.

Yet, there they go. Strong, independent Jaime. Beautiful, talented Mera. Charming, clever Aeron. Little people all grown up into bright young ladies with not the slightest interest in whether or not I stay home as long as there are plenty of snacks in the bin when they get back to the boat after school. The adjustment to institutional school life is going much smoother this round. I don't know if this is because the schools are better, they learned a great deal about public schooling the first go in Pukekohe, they are more mature, or some combination of the above. We are only three weeks into the year, and they have already established patterns and connections which bode fair well to ensuring I never see them.

Jaime has perhaps the hardest road this year. A combination of senior year pressure and a failure to do anything strictly educational last year means that her academic load is fierce. To this she added water polo, a job, and a boy friend. Kids these days. I have no idea how she'll handle it. She might not. Look, I know it can be done. I did at least that much my junior and senior year. I just don't know if Jaime is the one to do it. My only contribution to the decision making process is to offer my support, rides to 5:30am practice, and a lesson on GTD should she choose to go ninja on her personal productivity. After that, we'll have to see what she is made of. Smart bet is she either takes me up on learning how to get organized or she selectively reduces her work load until she has the bandwidth to do it all well. The one extremely good sign is that her eyes are wide open, fully aware that she may have taken on too great a load.

While Mera's choices appear on the surface marginally less ambitious, she is something more of a perfectionist. She is enrolled in Y10 accelerate which as near as I can tell means that functionally she is a Year 11 taking her NCEA Level 1 college qualification courses this year. The academics are a larger work load than she is accustomed to. More importantly, she goes through school with an odd combination of sublime arrogance and complete lack of confidence. I can not fathom it. One minute, she's the smartest kid in the room and not afraid to let you know it. The next she is dithering and fussing and agnsting over the micro details of a paper due on Monday, fearful of tests and worried about how her teachers will respond to her presentations. The worry causes her to spend energy and time perfecting every assignment, perhaps well beyond what is strictly necessary. For extra curricular, she was cast as a Shark girl, plays badminton on the weekends, and… much to the entire family's delighted surprise… made some friends with whom she actually *gasp* does things. Our little Mera, hanging out uselessly at the mall eating bad food and browsing shops. We're so proud. Really. Sometimes we can convince her not to take her Kindle on these excursions. We all count this as a major step forward.

Aeron is no longer the baby of the family, but she does at least have the advantage of being the youngest and with thus the lightest pressure. Her middle school is only moderately challenging academically, so she is channeling her boundless energies elsewhere. Horrifying both her father and myself, she wants to take up netball. In our opinion, netball is what you get when you take cheerleaders, put them on the basketball court, and make it impossible for them to smash into one another or do anything even moderately interesting. On the other hand, it is a huge sport down here, and I suspect Aeron will prove outstanding. She's scrappy, strong, and highly athletic. She was voted her class captain last week. No surprise, really, with her empathy and charm she's a natural leader and politician. DrC and I are thoroughly underimpressed with her course of study so we're supplementing in the evenings with math and French. We'll see how she goes.
And then there is the good doctor. I was supposed to start work in January. Instead of working and starting the family down the path of putting money into accounts, I have spent the past two months either prepping for or recovering from surgery. As a result, our finances are worse than anemic. DrC stepped into the breach. He has been picking up extra shifts at every possible opportunity. When he isn't doing doctor stuff, he is scraping away -- sometimes quite literally -- at the back log of boat maintenance chores. It would be hard to be more impressed with this work ethic, diligence, and emotional strength. He is a good life partner in so many ways. It didn't take this experience to make me recognize it, but it never hurts to be reminded that I made an outstanding choice and am lucky to have him.

So that's it. While I've enjoyed some amazing professional experiences, I haven't worked full time since 2005. On ramping isn't going to be easy. On the other hand, I look like the sole slacker in a family of over-achievers. Might be time to remind these Congers where they got that hyper-activity, more is more, I-can-do-anything-better-than-you gene.


JP said...

The RSS feed title for today's Dinosaur Comics: "i composed this comic while eating toast and considering my cripplingly intense feelings about toast"

Make of this what you will, former wiper.

Heather on Meerkat said...

Ok, this part made me laugh:

"I enjoy so that I can spend the rest of the time doing tasks I truly love. Whether it is raising babies, homeschooling little girls, or sailing big girls across oceans, I realize now that contracting has been for me a gateway to spending time with my children"... sorry, just flashed back to a lady who had had it with one child one day and told me she should have never had kids.

You absolutely should have had kids and have done an amazing job!

So great to hear about their individual lives. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Toast, on the pic of the boat -
why are the square sails back winded? also - no bow wake. Are they coming about?