Halfway down the stairs

The day to day thoughts of mother of three, fledgling gardener, and policy analyst.

Brought to you by the number 33. May 29, 2010

Filed under: birthdays,working — halfwaydownthestairs @ 10:24 pm

OK. So I’m 33 tomorrow. That’s the same age as Jesus. He had done one or two more things in his life than I have, but things ended rather abruptly for him at this point, and I hopefully have a few years left, so there’s time for more stuff.

I’ve been lax with the blog, for which my apologies. Turns out I’m not the most frequent blogger.  But its quality over quantity that’s important people, so hang in there.   I’ve been busy. Busy with my family, and busy working too. I’m back working for myself, writing policy, writing presentations, writing anything really, with a little business analyst work thrown in for good measure.  You can see my work on www.policypeople.co.nz if you’re interested.

So the baby is in daycare, and loving it. That ‘baby’, who is nearly one now and quite the big boy. Everyone else is fine, if you don’t count a broken arm (master 4).  Life is busy.  It seems like time is racing by like a kid on roller skates and I’m growing up.  What makes me feel older anything is the fact that I have a SEVEN year old (nearly).   That’s crazy. I’ve been married for 12 years. That’s crazy too. 33, 1, 4, 7, 12. I should buy a lotto ticket, but I bet I don’t.  Lately I’ve been ‘winning’ $12 by not buying one as I walk by. It’s a guaranteed win – try it.

So I’m 33 in 3 hours. It’s quite grown up, and old and all, but thankfully I still have some living to do. In my world, every day is an adventure and a challenge, with something to be achieved in it. I like trying new things, and making up challenges.  I ‘ran’ a half marathon to see if I could. I cram a lot into each day. I love doing the most, the best, that I can. I am pretty intolerant of people who don’t do their best, be all they can be. Not only is it boring, it’s wasteful. You only get one shot at life, and you need to grab it by the balls and make the most of it. I think I do. But there’s always more to be done, to be seen, to be realised. I often wish you could have more than one life.

If I got another shot, I would have been a doctor.  I’d be a GP, and I’d have loved it. Trouble is, I never did sciences at school, so I never ended up pointed in that direction. But my god I would have loved medicine.   And yes, I have looked at starting now. But it’s 13 years to get right through, and while I would still have some working life, the investment doesn’t stack up. And there’s those kids I have who need raising. And I make a good living from my work now. So meantime I watch Greys, and House, and chat with my awesome GP about interesting medical stuff, and live vicariously through my clever sister, who is an A and E nurse. She’s pretty cool.

What would you do if you got another shot? And what holds you back from doing that now?

See you on the stairs.  I’ll be the one who is 33.



We’re all going on a summer holiday…. January 19, 2010

Filed under: christmas,holidays,working — halfwaydownthestairs @ 8:57 pm

OK, so it’s been forever and a day since I last blogged. My apologies. My poor excuse is that I live in New Zealand, and as any New Zealander knows, nothing happens in this country AT ALL from Christmas eve right through the first three weeks of January. Nothing. The reason for that is that we are all off at a beach somewhere, camping, or staying in a bach, playing cards, swimming, fishing, and drinking wine. Which is pretty much a summary of our Christmas holidays. Christmas day was awesome… There was backyard cricket:

a sunken pavlova (see the Night before Christmas post), and quite a bit of afternoon dozing on the couch.

After Christmas, our nuclear family took off to the beach. Omapere, to be exact.  Omapere is in the Hokianga harbour, on New Zealand’s west coast, for international readers. It’s about an hour and a half past Dargaville.

On the way there, we got stuck in a uniquely NZ traffic jam….

Are we moooooving yet? (Sorry.)

Our bach looked across the harbour to the giant sand dunes. Northland Maori tell the story of how these sand dune mountains were created. It is said that a great forest of Kauri trees once covered the entrance to the harbour. Kupe, the polynesian explorer, landed here, on his journey from Hawaiki. He was so happy there, he stayed until he was an old man. In his old age, he wanted to return to Hawaiki. One of his sons was so angry at being left behind, that he lit a fire which burned down the whole forest. Apparently you can still find charred remains of Kauri trees under the sand….

Whatever the reason the dunes are there, masters 6 and 3 had an awesome day with their Dad sliding down them on what passes for a toboggan. I stayed home  – master 0 not being quite up to board riding just yet – and watched them as tiny dots through binoculars.

It was idyllic. Just the sort of place you could sit and watch the sunset, and (lucky us) watch Orca whales cruising by as they chased sting rays for a summer snack.



Out the other window, we had a view of this:

Does the happiness of small boys know no bounds??  They delighted in watching the engine go in and out of the shed, get washed, and see volunteer firepersons come and go. I even think it was worth the completely predictable new years eve call out at 3am where the siren sounded and woke every single one of us up. Still, we could watch out the windows, and the volunteer firefighters waved as they ran into the station to get their fireperson gear on and go save the world from an actual fire, we found out later, down the road a bit in Rawene.

The boys played in rock pools, at the beach, went fishing (master 6 caught a snapper!) and otherwise had the sort of holiday small boys love. I largely hung out at the bach with the baby, who was a bundle of loveliness as usual. It was waaaaay too hot to be taking him outside for much of the day, so we were a bit home bound, but we made bread, did the usual laundry and dinner routine, but also had a bit of time for napping and reading, so that was OK.

So we came home, the more to holiday here. Busy husband was at home right up until yesterday, and did an amazing job taking the big kids hither and yon and hither again in their quest for world domination. And just when we had completely exhausted him, he got to go back to work. Where there is air conditioning. And quiet time. I’m sure he is loving it. 🙂

So we have two more weeks of school holidays to get through before relative order is restored with the arrival of school and daycare. And until then we have holiday swimming and holiday tennis and holiday cooking to do. In fact, the reason I came on to write the blog was to write about the cooking, but that will have to wait for the next one, as this one has turned into quite the holiday piece.

In some ways, one could say that I’m on one loooong holiday now – I quit my job the other day. OK, so I was on maternity leave in any case, but I did have a reasonably clear plan to return to work. I had enrolled master 0 in daycare and everything. But after a lot of thought, I chose to give this particular job up.  Largely this is because the cost of full time childcare for two, and before & after school care for 1, would eat up too much of my salary for me to be happy to work. I will miss it, specifically I will miss the worky challenges and coffee and the people and the peace. But I hope I can get some work done as I have done before, as a self-employed sort, creating policies and other documentation for businesses. Watch this space. (And, for the record, being at home with 3 children is no kind of holiday, in case you were wondering.)

Enough for now. I hope your summer holidays have been as long and as relaxed as mine. And that those of you in the freezing northern hemisphere are full of hot chocolates and warm jackets and white fluffy snow, and such.

See you on the stairs



Are you my mother? December 3, 2009

Filed under: folding towels,mothers,working — halfwaydownthestairs @ 8:29 pm

We all know the story of the little bird who woke up in the nest looking for his mother. He searches for her, asking all the creatures he meets, from cats to dogs to boats to ‘snorts’ (diggers) if they are his mother. Having no experience of mothers, he doesn’t know what he is looking for.

Becoming a mother is a bit like this. For all that has been written about it, painted about it, and talked about it, each time a person goes from individual to mother it is unchartered territory. As you carve out your role as best you can, you might look to your own mother, to your peers around you, to what media may tell you for answers, but in the end how you shape your mothering is up to you.

There are thousands of books which will tell you how to be a mother. I don’t intend to add to the litany. If I have any advice for you in your mothering it is – Trust your gut. Allow yourself the space to listen to yourself. Regularly assess your choices. Do what makes you happy. A happy mother is a far far better one than one who feels trapped.

I have been prompted to think about these things by reading Deborah Hill Cone’s latest on mothers. I was disappointed, if I’m really honest. I’ve always enjoyed DHC’s writing. DHC has written a reflection on her own current experience of becoming a solo mother: she says that all she sees around her are picture perfect families with stay at home mothers. I think that’s a bit like when you are thinking about becoming pregnant, and all you see around you is pregnant people. Your own experience colours your vision. I happen to live in the same suburb as Deborah. I know it’s a white suburban oasis. I know. But don’t expect me to beat myself up about it. I don’t happen to be a millionaire, I don’t happen to own a house here, and I haven’t stayed home with the babies over the last 6 years they’ve been around. Up to now, I’ve been working.

I’ve been a mother who works largely because I wanted to. I enjoy my job, I enjoy the work I produce, I get a kick out of getting things done. For me, that has meant getting out of the house and away from the folding of the towels. I have always said that for me, this has been the right choice. I have been a happier mother because I work.

However, in recent past, we had master 0, bundle of cuteness that he is. So for the time being, I’m at home, living the home life. I’m still not folding the towels – well, not today. I got masters 3 and 6 attacking the laundry mountain, and they did a great job. Note to self, that’s a good daily activity for them.

Anyway, being at home is good. Good, because family life has become less stressful. Weekends are not longer taken up with all the housework, shopping and cooking. I can focus on planning our household expenditure, meals, vege garden. I can spend time with my son on his homework. Does this make me a 1950’s housewife? Perhaps. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

As I see it, while I am at home, I have turned my attention and energy from work to home. Working in the home, is for the time being, my job. I should do it well. It helps our household function. I’d like to think that if my husband was in a similar position, he would do it well. The hours I spend working for my family, at home, are valued in this house. If for one moment anyone forgets they should be valued, I remind them. It doesn’t mean I iron the busy husbands shirts (I don’t) or keep a perfect house. (I really don’t.) Nor does it mean my kids are home with me all day every day. (They aren’t.) But it does mean the childcare and household buck stops with me, for now.

Next year will hold other challenges. I know I will return to work at some point. I like it. But I’ve learned a bit from this year about having one parent around the home. It’s good. And I don’t think people who choose this as a full time occupation should be sneezed at, DHC. Many people make huge sacrifices to keep one partner, male or female, in the home. Weighing up working in an interesting job with the regular drudgery of making dinner is hardly fair. It isn’t about picture perfect families, or perfect 1950s marriages with 1950s division of labour, it’s about people making choices that work for them.

So what kind of mother am I, for the record?  I think I’m a snort. I’m the one that makes the most noise. I’m the tough one. Yet, for now anyway, I’m the one that brings the baby back to the nest. I might not look like a mother, or act like one half of the time, but my baby birds know what sort of mother I am. Theirs.

See you on the stairs,