Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Shifting sands

Life seems to be in flux at the moment.  It’s exciting but also shaky, and I feel like I’m running to stand still.  Katie has started pre-school, and swings violently between complete acceptance and wild refusal.  At 2½, and much younger on it than the other two, she seems like a little fledgling pushed out of its nest.  She was born right at the very end of August and it shows. 
 She is adamantly opposed to potties and is still at that intelligible-only-to-parents stage.  I know from the other two it will give her experiences she can’t get elsewhere, and she is such a bundle of energy that home doesn’t seem enough anymore.  But should I be waiting a term longer? 

Coinciding with this, my working hours have gone up for the next few months from two to three days a week, and for the first time in ages I’m doing research that I’m excited about and working with a whole new group of people.  So the work’s perfect, and the balance between that and home feels manageable and right.  If chaotic.  But it will all end in August when the Research Centre winds up.  And much as I scour the internet, realistically the academic labour market has nose-dived and my working availability is never going to be tremendously attractive to employers. I may have to just accept a year or so working on papers unpaid at home, which is a grim thought.  Financially obviously, but also because I like working in an open-plan office, meeting lots of interesting people at the start of their careers, much more than I anticipated.  Me, the social retard.  It turns out that actually getting paid to geek out is bit of a privilege.  But all around me, colleagues I’ve long admired, people who’ve made a real difference to policy knowledge, are being made redundant.  Decent, generous people who could have earnt 10 times their salaries in the private sector (probably 5, I exaggerate to make a point).  It makes no sense.  In my real life I try and push all this to one side, not think about it, because I have to live in the here and now.  But it is pretty scary, and I’m not sure what the answer is.  Come September everything will have to change.

But now there’s too much to focus on and make fit to dwell on endings.  Charlotte & Harry both have birthdays in June, and have suddenly slipped into planning overdrive.  They are not interested in listening to my advice that people will think it’s weird to issue party invitations two months’ early.   Charlotte wants to do a Laserquest thingy, which is great as it’s out of our hands.  Harry has dreamt up a Harry Potter home-based theme, which seems to require quite a lot more imagination than I have, so this will be a research task in itself.  (Thisis where blogging comes into its own, for as luck would have it, someoutstanding person has created a blog on this very subject!)  And mum is going away campervanning for all of June, which is obviously a wonderful thing.  This is the longest I won't have seen her for, by some margin, since Dad died and I'm trying not to think about the huge space and how selfish that makes me.

The work project has the tightest timetable I’ve ever seen but also some of the most interesting data, so training myself to work to schedule and not get distracted is going to be a challenge.  My life revolves around getting distracted.  My answer has been to download a time management book onto my Kindle.  Because the answer to this chaos quite clearly lies in a book!  And there are plans I need to make, dear friends we need to see in the holidays.  These are the things I need to prioritise, the memories.  And the guilt.  Always the guilt.  How seriously to take moaning about my being away for too many school runs, that we have evidently spent about a fiftieth of the time  of some classmates on the latest creative homework, that mummy so rarely comes into school to help 'like everyone else.'  All of these need to be squeezed into an oddly-shaped box.

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