Friday, July 20, 2012

Rewards for the Daily Grind

A couple of months ago I had a mega meltdown. The domestic grind got me desolate and depressed.

I was working hard so that my husband would successfully pursue his vocation and so that the kids would blossom in an exceptional educational environment. This facilitation of their success was not delivering quite the satisfied, warm fuzzy feeling I had hoped for. For a while I tried to simulate the feeling of being rewarded by buying myself shoes and eating chocolate. But the buzz from these hits wears off fast and my jeans got tight. So one Saturday, its always a Saturday, my bubble broke. I woke up and burst into tears. I bawled for ages and when the luthier bravely came in with a cup of tea and asked what was wrong, between heaving, snotty, ugly-cries, these words burst out from my very innards in  a sobbing staccato:








I know, very self-pitying and ungracious and ungrateful etc, but in that moment, for me, it was the essence of truth. I suspect I am not the only mother in the world who has felt like they are facilitating everyone elses' joy, and not getting much in the way of personal reward in return?

Now, before I go further, can I just say that this was one day. Many days I like my job and a lot of the time I get huge joy from watching my kids and my husband grow and succeed. I am grateful for being employed and what that means for us. I am also acutely aware that this depression, this unrewarding state is a situation utterly of my own making. Not investing enough in my own dreams is no-one's fault but my own.  But, on this  day (and a few others) I was overwhelmed with sadness and the feeling that the happiness of my loved ones was being gained at a cost to me that was to high for me to carry. And so I melted down.

This staccato cry of honesty. Revealing the guts and gore of my dissatisfaction changed everything. It was not pretty, but it was the truth. The luthier saw me, exactly where I was. He listened. He took me by the hand and gently propelled me out of bed. He took me by the hand, herding the children as we went. Putting one foot in front of the other, though I was fragile and  panicky and shaking, together we stepped, us and the children, along the river in the autumn sun. Silent. Slow. But forward. Step by step, with the sun shining on the tantalising glimmer of potential change.

With the light  and the motion appeared the possibilities. For days after slamming into this black full stop,  and then beginning this slow motion,  me and the luthier walked through our options. What had felt like being utterly stuck in a fathomless hole, became a journey through a tunnel. With every step, another possibility emerged from the gloom - strange and fantastical, practical, huge, teeny, even infinitesimal shards and shifts in perspective. As they emerged we picked them up and handled them. We ruminated, tasted and tried each one on for size. Some, prickly and uncomfortable, were quickly discarded, while others were embraced, fleshed out and adopted and the energy they generated propelled us further still. From some possibilities we just kept little pieces. Tiny idea fragments that we put in the basket for later. Never knowing when they might just fill a gap.

Changes have been small but the shift has been significant. the road is slow. We have distilled our current possibilities to an essence. Now, our eyes are more firmly set upon the prize, the daily grind has purpose and the potential for rewards for all of us. Travel is our goal. Trips and outings big and small. Our eyes are set on days out, minibreaks, jaunts, journeys, and adventures of all kinds.

Breaks from domesticity. Rewards for the daily grind

Potential purchases are measured in miles. No more shoes. Shoes are a trip off the island and you never know when that might be just the thing required.

Last weekend we cashed in our first miles and paid ourself with a modest minibreak. Heading south to the city nestled between Wellington and Derwent, we escaped. Our weekend home was a sweet, French-style apartment in a mansion near the beach.

Across the road was good coffee and breakfast. The beach, with a river dressed in spinnakers, was only skipping hops away.

We had money to spend so we bought things and went out for dinner, saw the beloved cousins, uncle and aunts and played together.

The trips catalyst was to see J perform with his school choir and 300 other school children from choirs from all corners of the island and beyond. I did not take enough tissues. They should put a warning on the program when groups of small children sing songs like Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" . The Treblemakers (don't you love a musical pun), J's choir crew, rocked the house. The show was one of many in Hobart's Festival of Voices which warms the city with sound and light in the frosty heart of mid-winter.  After his triumph at the school soirée crooning 'Count on Me' by Bruno Mars while accompanying himself on bass guitar, comfortable and confident, like he had been performing all his life, and a great school report, the rewards of our choices were evident.

For me, the icing on the weekend cake was a few hours in bed with Kevin.

We took the less travelled road home and found snow and lakes.

Everyone needs and deserves a break from the domestic routine and a reward for the daily grind.

What rewards are your heart set on?


Shannon said...

oh man such is our tedious lives eh?? My rewards are fleeting. A night out, certainly no holidays in our near future thanks to the reno to end all reno's ( lets blame kevin mc cloud for that) and then this morning I got the 'harriet can cut down her creche next year if you dont start earning more'

awesomeness in a nutshell.

lila said...

I feel what you are saying. I haven't quite figured out the rewards, but i'm so glad I read this before I dug myself any further into the dark.
I'm also glad to read things are getting better for you, it can be hard to push through and find what it is that we need and to remember that we need more than to support our families dreams.

Loz and Dinny said...

I am so hearing you. As I send off my resume with heavy heart I only think of travel. Nothing else... Except maybe brunch at a cafe xxxx bravo for the escape. Mrs xxx

Tanya said...

I know I am going to raise some hackles and incur some angry hisses but....I just don't think we women (on the whole and generally speaking) are hard wired biologically for this (bread winning). Despite all the feminist fights....I just don't think it is a comfortable position for most of us to be in. Having said that, unfortunately, most of us DO find ourselves in this position- granted it is usually a double income scenario- but still one of making ends meet rather than supporting the bread winner and nurturing the family, which I believe we are (on the whole and generally speaking) hard wired for.
For many years on my own as a single parent, I was the only bread winner so I do know a bit about self pity. Now that I find myself in a position of having a hero who goes out and sucks it up and works in an incredibly physical job in the some of the hardest environments I embrace my role of supporter and nurture-person(?) I love and appreciate that I can enjoy my cushy tiny job that brings in "a little extra" but is not pivotal to our well being. When he comes home, covered in bruises, prickles and cuts with muscles cramping at every second step he takes, how can I not relish my role to provide a serene sanctuary called "his home" and plate him up a hot dinner. Growing up I was sold the concept that I should be a career woman and find completeness and satisfaction. All I can say is that I am relishing the role I have now in total feminine apron-ness.
What is my point? What am I trying to say?....Maybe this...there is no easy solution for the way you are feeling at the moment. You may have the promise of a trip up stream and a cool deep pond on a tree lined stream but essentially you are swimming against the current and like the salmon, you may tire and loose your gorgeous shimmery colours. It is not an easy journey little smolt. Forgive my ramblings, I am now old and the evening hour is late. Let me just say your pain is palpable and I would hate to see you pushed beyond limits

Fer said...

Well said. We all (mothers that is) seem to be suffering this winter. I'm so glad you're finding your light at the end of the tunnel (I am too). xoxo

Anonymous said...

I love this. I am on maternity leave at the moment and loving not having to deal with idiots at work. However, I am so jealous of my husband who rides several times a week, goes out with adults for coffee (and so is able to finish sentences, thoughts etc). My own fault I know! I could do it, demand time off even, but somehow just dont. Glad you are feeling better and have a reason to push hrough