Saturday, 27 September 2008

A week in the life

The house is progressing nicely. All the blockwork is finished and the window cills are in place. We have thick concrete cills and mullions which make the house look really substantial and as though it has been there a while. Inside, the ames taper has finished and we have begun painting. If we had built the house before having kids we could have had it painted by now. I love the little darlings but I can't get doing anything with them around. 

Last weekend my husband was home for the first time in yonks so I had a night out with the girls. We decided to venture beyond our village so I volunteered to drive as I wanted to be fresh for painting the next morning. Also, I was tired and developing a painful sty in my eye. We drove on windy roads for about 40 minutes until we reached the disco. We arrived at the wee stone cottage recently built for traditional ceilidhs but tonight loud music belted out from it and disco lights flashed through the windows. It was the five of us and 20 unfriendly Austrian men. We waded through them (they did not clear a path) to get to the wee bar. C wanted a gin and slim. "We don't do slimline." M wanted a vodka, lime and lemonade. "We don't have lime." G wanted a long vodka. "Stick to two ingredients we told her. I had a diet coke and I felt much too sober to be there. Then we all waded back through the Austrians and sat in a row. The place is so small and narrow that there is not enough space for seats to face each other. The disco lights blinded us shining straight in out eyes and then the smoke machine came on. D nearly had an asthma attack. We opened the door. Someone shut it and more smoke came out the smoke machine. C refused to go to the bar again in case she got pregnant. We drank our drinks slowly and left. We looked out the car windows to see the wee stone building with smoke streaming out the crack round the door. It looked like it was on fire.

On Sunday my husband had a fun day with the kids while I painted and painted and painted our new house. It was wonderful to spend time in it and to be on my own for a few hours. As the roller moved paint up and down the bare walls and the rain streamed through the gutters (they are working, phew!) my mind slowly emptied of the noise and clutter and the endless to do list. It was just me on my own with no questions to answer, no phone to answer, no knocks at the door. I went home feeling happy and relaxed and ate a meal not prepared by me. 

Then Monday morning arrived and with it aching muscles from the painting. I went in to work feeling fairly relaxed as last week had gone well and I was well prepared and the day went well. It is demanding teaching non-stop except for a few short breaks. I wished I had an office job so I might make a coffee, check my email and chat to a colleague. And I realised that is the worst part of this job. I have no real colleagues. The other tutor on the course works different days and I spend the day with students. I have no-one to socialise with at work. I rushed home to prepare dinner.

We still weren't dressed at 10am on Tuesday.  We were having a lovely relaxing morning singing and dancing in our pyjamas when I got a phone call from MFI saying they were outside my house with my kitchen. The kitchen was supposed to be arriving next month and was supposed to be delivered to the new house. "Just give me a few moments to get the kids ready", I said. We rushed out with hair like scarecrows and in ill-matching tracksuits. The delivery van followed me to the new house and we waited a while until the walls of the house being built next to us were moved out of the way by the crane. So now I have half my kitchen in boxes. 

The electrician was there so we went through the list of items I needed to order for his next visit. Things like sockets and lights and all the necessary little things in a house. I went home and ordered the goods immediately then parcelled my girl off to nursery.

That night I had a community council meeting in the local hotel. Afterwards, I went to the bar with my friend and then more friends joined us and we sat sipping wine and chatting by the fire until 2am. The matter-of-fact, no subject taboo, German told us all about his night in a hotel with some girl. He told us he had shaved all over. He always tells me that. It was as if I was there with them such was the detail. A Scots man and an Irish man joined us who have lived in America for over 20 years and were taking Americans on a cultural tour. Some Americans briefly joined us and an old friend joined us. It was very nice but far too late.

On Wednesday all the finishings arrived - doors, skirtings etc. We need to stain them and my brother is starting work fitting them on Monday.

On Thursday I missed a very important meeting to campaign for a Gaelic school. No babysitter available. My husband arrived at it an hour late when it was all over. His shinty commitment was obviously more important than our children's education.

On Friday my husband  managed to do a little bit more painting and remove and clean the scaffolding and that is it. With his work and our kids there has been no time. He is away again this weekend. We could have painted! 

It rained all day today so we played inside and went to the Farm Shop to buy a chicken but came home with so much more. I am sitting in alone again. The kids are sleeping, husband is away and you know what? I quite enjoy my own company. Reading, writing and watching films with a wee glass of wine. 

My wee girl is at last starting to look forward to the new house. Probably because she has got it into her head it will be like a farm.

My girl said, "Guess what we are going to have in the new house?"
"I'll give you a clue. It barks, it eats dog biscuits and it has a lead."

"And guess what else we'll have?"
"I don't know"
"It neighs, it eats grass and it lives on grass."
"A cow"
"Yes we'll have a cow but it's not that."

She wants a farm. I just want to be in my new house.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

my first day at work

My first day at college started well as I was shadowing a class. I couldn't find my old work bag so carried everything around in a canvas shopper. That's just not very cool, is it? The girls in the class are aged between 15 and 19 with one older one at 23. There are a few confident chatterboxes and the rest are quiet, shy, lacking confidence. They go red when you ask them to talk and just haven't become comfortable in their own skin yet. I had forgotten what an agonisingly self-conscious time it is being a teenager. 
It got worse when without warning I was dumped with the class for the afternoon. I had just received the course materials and was left to get on with it. This was bad. It could set me off on the wrong foot with the class for the rest of the year. They were bound to see I didn't have a clue. All I could do was recap on the mornings work, get them to discuss things in groups and feedback and then I spent some time just getting to know them and hear about their reasons for doing the course and what they would like to do in the future. I confessed I hadn't prepared anything for them as I had not come in to teach them today. They were fine. The real test is Monday when I have to teach them two courses over the whole day. What have I got myself into? At least I am prepared this time.
At lunch I nipped out to see my kids who were coming out of gymnastics. It sounds daft but I was missing them as I love going to gymnastics with them.  They were so happy to see me I could have cried. Later, at home, my baby boy was not talking to me and wouldn't come into  my arms. He wasn't well and had been looked after all day by his Granny and now only wanted her. It was like a punishment for going back to work and dumping him. 
My new boss asked if I had enjoyed the day and getting out of the house. I was never stuck in the house in the first place. We were out doing things every day. There is such an assumption that mothers are desperate to throw off the shackles of domesticity. I used to be but lately I had really been enjoying being a stay-at-home mum. My main motive for going to work is to increase our income. Although, if it works out I will be happy to have a career for myself for the future.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Going back to work part-time

I've been head-hunted! I've been offered a job teaching at the local college 1 day a week. I am delighted and apprehensive and a little reluctant at leaving chaotic domesticity if only for a day. I am looking forward to earning my own money and to being in a college environment but it is a long time since I held an actual job so I am a little unsure. I have to get a CV in to the college tomorrow. I have just written it, right now, at the last minute. The last time I did one was 7 years ago! I was happy to discover I had a few things to add to it. I am meeting the course leader tomorrow to go over the teaching pack and to discuss the job. 

I told my wee girl who is almost 4 and asked her what she thought. "Fine. Does that mean I get to go to play at the thing?" she asked excitedly. She was talking about the day care centre in town. Here's me staying at home to bring up my children because I think it is best for them and me and my daughter wants to go to day care. In fact, she often asks me if she can go there to play and I  tell her "No, that's for boys and girls whose Mummy and Daddy's are out at work so they go there to be looked after." She obviously thinks it is a good thing. The minute she heard I had a job she asked about going there. I suspect it is because there is a bouncy castle and a sit-in train. All those days of baking, finger painting, glitter glue and wet-weather walks, I could never trade them in for day care and wearing smart clothes to work. Perhaps there is a balance to be had and work part-time and get the best (and worst) of both worlds.

I am also wondering how I am going to fit it in. My schedule has gone crazy again. I am at the house site managing things there, doing nursery runs, Mums and Babies in the village, Community Council, going to a new Gaelic Parent and Child Group, toddler gymnastics has started again and I am trying to resurrect my writing dreams and actually write. Also, my husband is never at home as he is either working at the day-job, working at the site or away playing with his band. Oh, and I have mountains of procrastinated domestic chores to get through. They are becoming more pressing as we have a house inspection next week. It is to check for any maintenance requirements but pride will forbid me from letting them see it as it is now. Also, the recycling pile is growing as we haven't taken it down to the recycling centre for weeks and if you were to look at the collection of bottles in our back garden you would think I had turned to drink. Actually, looking at this list I could probably do with a day of work to get away from it all. But what to wear? I will have to go shopping for something smart-ish that fits. 

And, by the way, the house is coming on great. All the plasterboarding is finished so that is the 2nd fix completed. We are trying to get an Ames Taper to fill the joins in the plasterboard but they all quote at least double what we budgeted. We might just have to bite the bullet and go with one. The blockwork is 90% done as well. We just have the massive problem of discharging our sewage to deal with. It is only a massive problem because the seller of our site who is also the neighbouring landowner is being an awkward shit and telling us lies. We are trying to reach an amicable agreement but it is looking increasingly likely that it will become a matter for lawyers which means expense. He has already told me he has instructed his lawyer to write to my lawyer. It is ridiculous as I see him every day and he only lives across the road from me. Bloody areshole.