Kindergarten starts tomorrow afternoon. You know when you’re really looking forward to something but you also don’t quite believe it’ll ever actually happen and then suddenly it’s just there? That.
I’m giving myself the week “off” – or more accurately: I’m giving myself the week to settle into the new school year gently. I gave up on my to-do list about halfway through the holidays, in favour of just getting through it without going nuts (and maybe actually enjoying it a bit, which I did). So I have some catching up to do. And while I had a whole big Plan for structuring my week now that I have a reasonable amount of productive time to structure, that’s going to have to start next week. For now, I’m allowed to just potter about and get ready.
(Well. In reality I only have… Friday morning, and kind of Thursday afternoon, as free time this week. So that’s not a HUGE amount of pottering time. But I’ll take it.)
Job application emotional rollercoaster: Oh, that looks like a job I could actually do! …Dammit. Just when I was about to enjoy kid-free time. But yeah it could be good! Have my most excellent and perfectly qualified application! …Wow this job is MINE. I can taste it. I should go shopping for work clothes, like, right now. …Shit the childcare is going to be a nightmare though. …But I can’t wait to tell people YES I am a real grown-up again, you can stop being so patronising. …They still haven’t contacted me. It’ll never happen. I will be unemployed forever.All this within about two days. I have an overactive imagination.
Took kids to the pool, because that’s what you do in summer holidays, right? And it was mostly lovely, though also kinda boring because without friends there, kids need me a lot. So there I was thinking how really, the thing to do is to go with friends, and then I’d have someone to chat with also, and hey, suddenly one of C’s classmates turns up! With her mom! For a chat! DAMMIT. Turns out, casual chats with casual acquaintances mostly just leave me feeling worse about myself. Because shitty German, and because I am very conscious of how I sound – language aside.* I sound like a bratty, whiny, negative person who is full of excuses. At least if the small talk turns to either hausfrau life (which is usually an early topic, because what do we have in common? Only kids), or why it is that I’m a hausfrau given that I hate it and am crap at it. The answer to that problem involves many circumstances that are simply fact (few English editor jobs in Switzerland, obviously; those that exist call for a more corporate background than I have, or don’t pay, or don’t accommodate childcare, etc etc; plus the general global decline of the publishing industry) but explaining all this, I just sound to myself like I am amazingly full of excuses. I suspect I need to avoid that whole conversation and just let people think I’m perfectly happy being a hausfrau. I mean, seriously, who cares? But apparently I really am the world’s biggest moaner. Oh well.
[Key change ahead] I read a packet of letters that were written to my mother, from a friend and neighbour, around the time of her attempted suicide, and they were unexpectedly lovely. Though I’m not sure how much my mother would have enjoyed them. (Since I know you’re reading, Dad – this was Jean, and she really liked you.) Part of what I enjoyed was just the recognition of this woman’s experience as a mother of four small kids, struggling with hausfrau challenges and frustrations and trying not to feel crap about herself. (Although, wow, did she approach her situation in a completely different way to me.) And partly of course her perspective on Mom. I can see why they were friends; she shares her feelings very openly, using imagery in a very similar way to my mother. From her first letter: “It seems to me that in yourself you’re like a cottagey little herb garden, with rich soil, and it’s springtime. Someone has planted the garden full of new plants, and the soil is healthy and balanced… but because of its very richness lots of little weeds are trying to grow too. I remember learning that weeds grow very well – better than indigenous plants – in disturbed earth.”
Having this whole depressing conversation in my bathing suit, while talking to a woman with perfectly groomed blonde hair and a tanned toned bikini body even after bearing four children, did not exactly help.