Can I start by saying that I breathed an audible sigh of relief as I dropped Grace off at Nana's this morning? That work was EASY compared to four days at home alone with her. Even with huge amounts of family support? I don't know how single parents do it, well not without going absolutely crazy. I guess I would turn into a super-duper-over-organiser-control-freak about some things and Grace would watch even more tv than she already does (finishing breakfast in the lounge room while I have a shower is a new habit). And I would be more tired than I ever believed possible. And some things would slide. Well, they'd have to, because there are only so many hours in the day. But I guess if you have to, for whatever reason, then you just do.
I've realised a few things this weekend. Carrying all that responsibility, even temporarily is huge. I felt it drop on to me the day G went away and then again on Sunday night. Just after I fell on a wet patch of lino. Grace had been doing pouring that I hadn't mopped up well enough (obviously) and on the way out to pick some herbs for the soup, I fell on my back. Carrying scissors which I luckily didn't shove up my nose. I started breathing fast with the shock of it; scared to move, scared that I'd really hurt myself, instantly worried about what would happen if I had. Relieved that I hadn't. Grace was watching teletubbies, oblivious. What else? It's lonely. Not that I didn't have lots of people around, I did. More that I missed being part of a couple. Talking about stuff, the domestic minutiae, hanging out, sharing a bed. For so long, I thought marriage like relationships were something other people did. There's probably many reasons for that, but even contemplating a life outside this one makes me feel so incredibly sad. It's so bloody hard sometimes. What with his shit, my shit, our shit. I guess that's what it's like when you've been together for eight, maybe that's the cycle of it.
There have been other thoughts going through my head about work, about being the main income earner. It occurs to me that when I was a feminist rabble rouser back in the early eighties, despite all the hot words, most women with children still had an expectation of staying home. At least for a while. I certainly don't remember there being many working mothers of young children in any of my workplaces. Where I work now, there are quite a few. Most are ten years younger than me and all work part time, but with the expectation of increasing their hours as their children get older. I'm the only one with a stay at home partner. Some of the men have stay at home partners, but not that many (although it's more likely the more children there are). However, there's still something much more acceptable about a woman staying at home full time caring for a child (and doing most of the housework) than a man doing so. And much more in the way of social opportunities (eg mothers group and chats at the park). It's definitely seen as odd to be living off one wage that's not quite full time. I wonder how much what other people think gets to me? And how much harder it must be for G?
There's part of me that's really proud to have this job and all it means. I'm starting to feel whirled up in the world of work again. There's career possibilities down the track and the work I'm doing now is of resume and reference building type. If I want it and work it, that is. And yet... four days with just me and Grace makes me realise anew what I miss when I go for the biggest part of her waking day. It takes me a while to get back into the rythym of where she's at and what she's trying to say; toddler language not always being something you pick up first listen. I miss the little explorations, the funny conversations, the new things that happen and knowing how to defuse the different types of tantrum. By the end of the weekend, she started saying I floor (as in I'm going to lie on the floor for a bit and carry on for a while if that's OK) before a bit of a tanty. Just so I knew, as I pretended not to notice. I miss us being together, even if it's a relief to have a break. Actually, I miss us all being together.
It's hard staying home. It's hard going out to work. I never expected to feel so pulled between the two worlds. I guess I have a lot of working out to do. And I was going to write about cooking. Sheesh.