Monday, February 1, 2016


January was an odd month in a lot of ways. It was less summery and relaxed than I wanted it to be, punctuated by some unexpected sadnesses and challenges, and apparently possessed of wings - I cannot remember another school summer break evaporating so rapidly. The weirding of the weather didn't help either, nor my month-long health hiccup. It felt like a much more disjointed month than I am used to for kicking off the year, and it's left me with a pit of unease in my stomach that I'm hoping a productive February will shift.

I worked for almost all of the month, going back on 3 January after 2 weeks off over Christmas and New Year, and for the first time ever, I worked predominantly at home, with all three kids around. Although I did work the majority of January 2014 and 2015, with one week off only in each of those years, that was in the office, and my husband had the majority of the month off to look after the kids. Prior to that, I hadn't worked between Christmas and Australia Day since 2005 - the summer I was pregnant with my second daughter, when I was only working 2.5 days a week in any case. I've managed this by using leave or simply blocking out the time when freelancing.

It was neither as bad as I feared nor as smooth as I hoped; we had good days and less good days, I had effective work blocks and times when I was working at midnight to catch up on the day-time I hadn't been able to put in while mediating School Holiday Sibling Wars or taking the kids places. By the time my husband commenced his week off on 18 January, I was super ready to be able to concentrate more fully on work, although, as I was still physically here, it was still more prone to interruption than was ideal. I did end up taking 25 January off to make a 4-day long weekend with the public holiday on the 26th, and I really deeply needed to by then (not to mention that a day to prepare for the return of school was not optional!)

January was also a month in which a number of unexpected deaths shook our little bubble. Two acquaintances from our church died, both people that we did not know extremely well but were on a friendly terms with; in one case after a long illness, in the other case very suddenly. It might sound foolish, but I also felt personal sadness and loss at the death of David Bowie, and the girls were upset to learn of the death of "Professor Snape" (Alan Rickman). The pall of world events felt heavy in January - perhaps it's confirmation bias, but the news felt grimmer than ever, and a rising tide of futility and pointless rage threatened to overwhelm me more than once.

Facing the future, on an individual, familial and societal level, made us more anxious in this past month than it has for a while. Some of these nerves were / are "good" nerves - anticipation of my eldest's start to high school, for instance, which has gone very well so far. Others are less easy to belay with positive transitional experiences. We have some hard miles ahead this year in a number of areas, and realising this in January wasn't easy.

Of course, there were good aspects to the month as well - moments and days of lightness and joy, satisfaction and connection. We did a lot of family walks, which was great. My second daughter learned to ride her bike well. I participated in, and completely loved, Month of Poetry for the third year running. We had a truly superb family outing to Adventure Park in Geelong. We went swimming and caught up with friends and played board games and continued our rising addiction to colouring books.

So really it wasn't a terrible, awful, no-good, very-bad month, overall; but it was a month of more challenges and less vegetating than I had hoped and planned for, a month that allowed no easing into the year, but smacked us in the face with 2016-ness from the get-go.

Some years this is how it has to be, I guess.

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