Sometimes, you go to work and want to dance for the sheer hell of it.
Today, our office did just that.
Sometimes, you go to work and want to dance for the sheer hell of it.
Sometimes, you go to work and want to dance for the sheer hell of it.
Today, our office did just that.
I’ve faced many a challenge in my time as an adult and yet nothing compares to the juggling act that is being a full time working woman and being a parent. I do not have the choice to be a stay at home parent at this time, not only is my monthly income required to support our family but because I am my husband’s visa sponsor as well. The juggle is real and today I’m feeling it.
I am someone who tries to do the best they can in everything they do, this includes my career and so I go to the office every day with the intention of giving it my all and showing that I care about what I do. I may not be going to work to become a successful career woman, but being a successful career woman is what has come by default by being committed to my line of work. The travel industry is all I know, I’ve done this all my adult career and I’d like to believe that I am good at what I do because of all the hard work I put in every single day…
… but I am a mother first. No matter how well or not I do in my career, my children will always come first. This means that when they are sick and they need me, it is my parental duty to be there for them and make sure they’re looked after. Today, this happened, again. My little D kept us awake from 1am this morning with her coughing and fever so I had little choice but to stay home with her, get her to the doctor and make sure she has the medication she needs to get better. Never mind that she couldn’t go to school because she would’ve infected all the other children. My husband does more than his fair share but it just so happened that today, he had a meeting in London all day and so he wasn’t available to look after D in her sick state. As her mother, my job is to make sure that she is ok – if that means putting her before my work day, what else can I do?
This is the third day in 4 weeks that this happened, which is why I’m probably noticing the juggling act more than usual. It started with H being ill at home and hubby being at a meeting so I had to stay with her during the day (the next day, J-P was home with her), then last week a school closure due to no water and hubby had started a new job so couldn’t stay off (This turned out to be the day his tenure ended at that specific job, poor timing) and now D is ill. The difficulty is that I’ve always been able to make arrangements so that these kind of emergencies haven’t affected my work, in South Africa we always had Judith (our nanny and house keeper) who was by default our full time back up plan. If she was not available or at home that day, the next back up was family (my mom) or hubby as his work was flexible – now we have to get used to not having a nanny, not having family support and hubby only just getting settled again in his new job… This leaves me to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure my top priorities are looked after, but at what cost?
The costs are plentiful. Never mind parental responsibility leave being unpaid, unplanned and undesirable. The recurring time off work (3 days so far, not really that many but to me feels like a lot) makes me feel unreliable, not a feeling I am good at processing! So many people abuse the right to parental excuses, I told myself I would never be that person who’d use my children as an excuse to stay off work – I never have – but it is extremely difficult knowing that other people may feel you’re taking advantage of the situation. For almost ten months, I did not have my children with me. These situations have become almost foreign to me, to have them creeping up on us and throwing the ship off course reminds me of the struggle that being a working mom can be. The struggle of having two jobs. The struggle of pleasing a workplace and a child. The struggle of satisfying the career woman and the parent in yourself.
Perhaps this is my third in a series of threes and now we will be able to move forward without hiccups for a little while, at least until J-P has settled into his new role and has more flexibility to work from home (and look after sick minions at the same time). My decision to leave my current role and employer is because of the hours spent travelling to / from the office and so on the 2nd of November I start a new job much closer to home, this will enable me to spend more quality time with my children both before and after work and hopefully allow me to better balance the work / home juggling act. I can assure you, I’d much rather be at work with healthy children at their respective schools than at home with SpongeBob on the TV listening to a dog like persistent cough all day from my littlest person for which I can do next to nothing. I sit worrying about the work I have to go in to catch up the following day and the people I have let down by being stuck at home (again). I worry about the financial implication at the end of the month when I get paid less than I budget for. I worry about what people think of me and how people will see me. I worry about what will happen if this happens again (Let’s just say, today I bought a metric tonne of vitamins for the girls to try and avoid this illness creeping up on us in the future) and I worry about worrying so much and feeling so guilty for doing the most important job in the world, being a mother.
I know that many of you know this struggle well, the juggling act of being taken seriously as a parent and a working woman. Fortunately, I do have an understanding employer and for that I’m extremely grateful. I feel sorry for those whose jobs are not as lenient and don’t have the leeway to be both. How do you handle being a working mom (or dad)? How do you handle the balancing act of being great at your job and a better parent?
It’s funny. We started this journey in October 2014 and despite knowing just how difficult it was going to be, we could never have anticipated a separation that lasted this long and lives that would be affected this greatly, but here we are! I have been in the UK 280 days today (Over 9 calendar months) and finally the visa saga is drawing to a close.
I think that even though we have struggled (And I am sure you have all noted our intense struggle), we should not be underestimated. Yes, we knew that this was going to be a crazy ride, I knew that I would be lonely and we knew that this would take a toll on everyone involved – The point of the story is that we reached the goal in the end, despite all the challenges we faced. We did it! (Well almost).
On the 22nd of July 2015, after daily check-ups with and at Teleperformance and hounding and annoying as many people as humanly possible, my husband finally collected his visa. Exactly 11 weeks after submission, he has a settlement visa in hand and we can now move forward with our lives. So what was the first thing we did you asked? Most certainly breathed a mutual, continent separated, sigh of relief. It was surreal. I spent the day in a somewhat shocked daze, walking around in disbelief and taking in the realisation that finally my family would be joining me and the new battles of life in another country for them begin. Shortly after the sigh of relief, we paid for the air tickets and made it official. My husband and my beautiful children will arrive in the UK on Thursday the 30th of July 2015! And the countdown couldn’t possibly go any slower.
I really cannot explain the elation that we are feeling. It is a mixed bag of emotions… On the one hand, we are finally getting what we set out to do all of those months ago but on the other, it is the end of an era. The end of a limbo in which we have been living for what feels like a lifetime. Will I remember how to be a wife? Can I go back to being a good mother? Will I remember how to share a home with 3 other people when I have been on my own for so long? There are nerves, anxiety, disbelief, happiness, sadness, anticipation and excitement. It feels like I am getting on a plane and leaving South Africa all over again… Only this time, I won’t be alone.
On Wednesday, I put up a picture of the visa across my social media platforms and I could hardly believe the support that we have received. It is overwhelming. It is like each and every one of our friends and family members have walked this long and treacherous road with all of us. Seen our longing, felt our sadness, shared in our frustration and wiped away our tears. Without all of you, no doubt this journey would have been far more harrowing. To all of those who have cared enough to be a part of this, we thank you – Those that I have met and those that I haven’t. Thank you for your messages, your likes, your comments, your shares and overall just thank you for supporting us from afar.
This looks a little like an Oscars speech but it isn’t really, I just feel it necessary and important to thank everyone involved! Like my crazy ‘landlord and lady’ who in the time I have moved here, wiped my face, held me as I cried, watched me suffer, helped me move, accepted numerous Argos deliveries, drank with me, fed me, showed me the ropes and then decided to have a baby –Without these two taking the plunge, I would never have had the guts to do it myself. And my mother, who if she had not so graciously opened her home to my husband and children, we would be in a far different situation – Thanks Mom and Ken for housing my little family for 9 MONTHS (What we hoped would be 3-4), you are almost an empty nest… finally!
And of course… the strongest man in the world. My husband.
I do not know many men (if any) who would watch their wives move halfway across the world without them to brave a foreign country alone. Giving up all freedom to move in with his in laws, to parent two children (One of which is not his blood relation), to financially support himself and the girls while continuing to fund his visa costs and every now and again a guitar and some eBay shopping for me. To tirelessly and relentlessly push on through delay after delay. To calm his psychotic wife when she was having a lonely episode and to listen when I felt like our worlds were falling apart at my doing. To buy me flowers when I didn’t get the house I wanted or send me a Lindy Bop dress in the wrong size (Oops). He has held my hand through the bad times but held my heart through the worst and I could not thank him enough for being this man because without him at my side, I never would have had the courage to shift my life back to the country in which I was born. I am so grateful that he continues to remind me every day that despite everything we have already conquered and all the hardships that our marriage has faced, we are soul mates and stronger for it. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We falter. But now we are in a place that our marriage and our family can be proud of – We achieved what we set out to do and in only a few days we would have successfully moved our family across continents! No one could be more proud of us than me.
I missed my 30th birthday with my family, my husband’s birthday, Christmas, Hayley’s birthday, Mother’s day (In the UK), Easter, Mother’s day (In SA), Father’s Day, Dakota’s birthday and soon our 3 year wedding anniversary among many other things (Including the birth of my nephew) – But for all I have missed, we are about to gain so much more…
And NOW the work begins.
Schools are on holiday so we have a few weeks to get the girls placements in school – Hayley will be going into Year 5 (Bumping up and missing out on the last half of Grade 4) in September and Dakota into Reception year (Like Grade R). We already have some hopeful waitlists and I am working tirelessly with the admissions team to get them where we want them to be – This, no doubt, will be sorted sometime during August.
J-P has his second interview set up for what sounds like a really good job which will see him starting work very soon (A place they have been holding for him since a Skype interview in June).
And then in 2 and a half years time, we go through this whole visa process all over again – BUT AT LEAST THIS TIME, we will not be separated and it will be the final one before the ILR and citizenship.
So there we go… no more miserable visa posts and moaning blogs about the settlement process. We made it this far and the next blogs I write will once again start including my girls and our lives and the adjustments we have made. Thank you again to everyone who has followed and supported us… It would never have been possible without you.
Heart break means strength. We have no choice but to be strong when we have nothing else and so we wear our shells for all to see. You cannot hurt us, your words cannot destroy us. We are strong, We are independent and need for nothing or no one. The walls are raised, the limitations set and the expectations removed, for without expectations there can be no disappointment. We become hard, we are unfeeling. We think that we must appear indestructible and then we cannot be broken. If no one will see the cracks, we allow no one to force them open. We care for nothing on the outside, show no emotion. Appear solid and cold, no doors to be opened for those around us. We walk around as smiling zombies, no trace of humanity, nor a hint of emotion.
We think that we must appear indestructible and then we cannot be broken.
And then… someone comes along and everything we thought we needed to do to keep everyone out is the very thing we need to stop doing to allow one person in. We know what is good for us but we choose to ignore it, we attempt to keep up the façade. We think that if you don’t see us, you will never know that in the deep dark recesses of the stone mind, the human lingers. We rage a war within ourselves, the ever problematic head versus heart. We weigh up the consequences, wager the odds. Spend hours saying the right things and yet acting out something else entirely. We remain guarded, shielded. We think that if we pretend that we are still that statue with facial expressions, people will not see through the curtain. We are extra careful, making sure the little things aren’t there to give us away.
But in time we realise we are human and cannot keep this up after all, we cave. We crack. We give into our raw human interiors and realise everything that everyone assumed we held together has fallen down. In a wave of passionate release, we reveal our true selves. We drop the walls, we open the doors and the tear duct flood gates empty. Overwrought with all that has been held inside for oh so long, we crumble. We break down in the hopes that that someone who came along, will be willing to pick us back up again…
But they don’t. They realised they wanted us for who we were as unfeeling, uncaring, ‘strong’ people. They decide that the weakness is too much, and the emotion is too strong. They decide that what they thought they wanted to see, they didn’t. They asked for truth, they asked for explanation, when they received what they asked for they chose to ignore it because they are weak.
They do not know for what they ask.
And so the cycle continues, we go back to being statues. We go back to being guarded at the realisation that they cannot handle who we are. They do not know for what they ask. They cannot be blamed though, for we should have known better, we should have known that the reason they could not handle us was not in fact because they were weak. It is because they too were statues, we were only further along in stony progression.
And what did we learn? Was it better to have allowed the ice to thaw or should we have remained entombed in our own form of protection. As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Those that cannot handle your life force, don’t deserve presence in your life at all.
Be you. Be Ice. Be Fire.
I want. The most under used and over used statement in the English language.
As a child, roaming the aisles of a crowded super market, your eyes catch all the fancies it has to offer. You peruse the ‘sweetie’ shelves trying to decide which chocolate it is you would like and then you call out to your mum or dad in the neediest possible tone… “Muuuuuuummmmm, I want this!” She scolds you for whining and promptly refuses, after all, you are at the corner store for only a pint of milk. Grossly disheartened you try again in the hopes that this time she will acknowledge and deliver on your request… “But mummmmmm, I want it” and before the words have cooled off of your tongue, she speedily backhands your arse. In her most disciplinary tone she turns to you and at the top of her maternal voice shouts “I want DOESN’T get” leaving you in tears, sans the chocolate with a red faced woman pulling your arm to remove you from the store – After all, she is the embarrassed one.
And there it begins, we are engrained with the ‘I want, doesn’t get’ mantra. We learn to stop asking because we no longer enjoy the disappointment. We learn in time that if we truly want something, we can rely on no one else but ourselves to go out and get it. We learn that we do not actually know what we want and so spend hours searching for a brand of vacuum cleaner we like or a washing powder that is practical. We forget that we wanted to do something meaningful with our lives and instead ended up doing something sensible. We spent a childhood WANTING and being told we could not have, only to grow up as adults who know longer know how to get what we want. That is, if we have been smart enough to figure it out at all.
Now you are with friends, a partner or family and you decide that no one feels like cooking tonight. The question is put out there “What do you want for dinner?” You can’t answer. The truth is you do not know what you want and because your sub conscious has been trained not to know, you spend 45 minutes perusing the take out menu only to decide that a trip to Tesco’s for a loaf of bread would probably be the cheaper, more practical option, though no one else agrees. Deep down, you knew you wanted a pizza but because everyone else wanted fried chicken it was probably the safest option. So you give in, you concede to the majority because that is the easier way, to give in to what everyone else wants to save you the hassle of making a final decision only to have it challenged.
We have become a nation of drones. We either know what we want but are too afraid to say it… or we don’t have a clue what we want and so we ‘go with the flow’. We never give definite answers, women have memes created about them and we spend our lives miserable and unsatisfied because we were too indoctrinated to speak up. We pose questions for which the responses are vague. We answer questions with questions. If something is asked of us we respond with words such as maybe, possibly, we could, we can, I don’t mind, why not. We have become afraid of saying I WANT. We fear judgement and so we have forgotten what it is to speak up. We fear ourselves and so we have forgotten what it is to live. We fear that knowing what it is we want will be the destruction of thinking what it is we need. We live responsibly – Working in jobs that are safe, driving cars that are practical, eating foods because we should, being agreeable because it is expected.
I ask people daily… What do you WANT to do with your life and never do I receive a response that is selfish. You would imagine that this is a good thing, right? No. If I ask a mum of two what she wants for her future, she may say that if her children are happy then she is happy. Sounds legit. Well it’s a load of crap because that same mum actually wanted to be a pilot and travel the world but she didn’t and now she won’t because she fears that it won’t relate to what other people or her children want. So she forgets what she wants and when asked the question, she cannot answer, she cannot disappoint herself.
Well I say fuck that.
It is about time that we stopped being sheep. It is about time that we learn to stand up and shout from the roof tops what it is we want. Why is it so difficult for adults to just open their mouths and let their desires out without fearing rejection, judgement, disappointment and ridicule? When did it become ok to just DO because it’s the right thing instead of LIVE because you have desires to fulfil?
If I asked you what you wanted, could you answer? Could you release your deepest desires and be wholly truthful without fearing your own response? I am not talking generic answers, being happy isn’t a WANT – It is a state of mind. I am talking specifics. I am talking honesty. I am talking raw, heartfelt cravings for yourself and for your life.
I am not saying you have to have it all figured out but by Gods, at least try! At least be grown up enough to speak what you think instead of censor yourself for public viewing, If you want something say so! In the same breath, if you don’t want something, say it as well.
Our parents may have said ‘I want doesn’t get’ to us many times, but they also said something else. They said ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ Perhaps we should’ve listened a little more to that one instead.
Next time someone asks you what it is you want for dinner, just tell them you wanted the pizza. Maybe finally you’ll get something you want.
The opposite of happiness is not to be unhappy, I have learned that instead it is too be lonely. Alone and lonely.
It is an interesting thing to learn that something you thought to be true your whole life actually turned out to be a load of rubbish. In my case, I believed that I disliked people so much that the only thing I ever wanted to be was on my own. I spent a lifetime trying to get some ‘me’ time, cherishing the rare moments I had alone on the way to work or in the bath. A few months after arriving in the UK, I was alone. I had my own place and the thought of finally living on my own was an exciting one – Not to say I was not deeply disturbed by being separated from my family but the luxury of my own space is one I have never been easily afforded.
The thing is… after a few months of being alone, it grew lonely. I left my closest friends and family in South Africa and I have not found it easy to make new ones, not because I am an ogre to get along with but because financial constraints mean I don’t get to go out or leave the house with an audience very often. I don’t get along well with everyone and in fact most people just do not appeal to me… I am happy with the few close friends I have made and have, I am not really interested in adding to the friends list for the sake of it so I will continue to be fussy in the social aspect of things.
After a little while of being lonely I decided to get Bella – It took me months to find her, hours to bond with her and mere weeks for me to lose her again. She was the one piece of happiness I have had in a long time and today that was taken away from me (through my own fault) along with the chance of seeing my children any time soon.
So am I unhappy? No. I am absolutely, unequivocally lonely. I have never felt more alone in my entire life and the mere thought of spending time stuck at home by myself brings random and infinite tears to my eyes. I feel like I am being suffocated, like every breath I take clutches my insides on the way down and it hurts. I feel like I am drowning, that when I open my eyes all I can see is the eerie black of nothingness. As someone who used to get a full 8 hours or more of sleep a night, I now get only 4 or 5. I hate the thought of going to bed, not because I do not want to enter the lonely dream state I have come to accept but because sleep means the dawning of another day of being alone. Another day on my own. Another day to fake a smile to the world and pretend everything will be ok. Another day to feign strength, to try not to be clingy or needy, to not admit that I am human and every day that passes is another scratch into my bleeding soul. Waves and waves of grey hit me every minute of every day. I am lost and I am no longer running.
I have spent 8 months and 8 days feeling this way.
A lifetime of needing alone time has culminated in me never wanting to be alone again.
I am not afraid to openly admit that I have failed myself. That I am weak, that I need people. That I cannot sustain this hermit life much longer and that being glued to my phone is not the answer.
How I long for a soul that will not leave me… like my Bella did and like souls before her.
I ache for the day I come home to noise. To voices.
I yearn to come home and take just 5 minutes longer in the bathroom because that is the only alone time that I have.
I crave human interaction that exists outside of virtuality where words are said because they are meant and not because they are obligatory.
One day… people will look at me without pity, without sympathy and without wonder at what I am doing and have done.
Cacophony of silence
I berate thee
You placate me
Not forever you say
But here in darkness
I tire of the company
Living only for one
The world goes by
Not a second thought
No one dare try
Only shadows care
And in my solitude
I ponder, I wait
Change comes not
Loneliness, my fate
I stand still
You think me strong
My head, weak
Do I dare speak?
To say what comes
To mind, my dear
Will only do harm
And so the noisy
I plug my ears
I block the sound
Arms enveloping me
Soul shielded from
My only friend
I long for her
To bring me home
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