Category Archives: Family

This man

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I write this from Far North Queensland. Weipa, on the western side of Cape York Peninsula, to be exact. I’ve been up here since Sunday. The boys are home alone.

I’m here setting up my Phd research project. Speaking with Traditional Owners, seeking their permission to do research, trying to suss out what may and may not work and what might be beneficial to the community. It’s all pretty confusing for me. I want to work with the community here to design my research. But that takes a lot of getting to know people first. Building relationships. So much background that I am oblivious to. Both on the ground and in the literature.

I’ll get there. Maybe.

But this is what i get to look at, talk about, work in :IMGP7553

Oh, and this 😦

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But the point of this post is that none of it would be possible without significant support from J.

What a guy! Playing single parent, exhausted, overwhelmed, but still encouraging and reassuring me.

It’s been really hard for everyone. I don’t really feel okay being away for this long although i really want to do this work. It will be 10 days altogether. Lil I was really sad the first night and the following day. Crying, and asking me to come home now and J has had to pick up the pieces, all of them, the whole time, as well as cook dinner, clean, deal with night wakings etc.

He sent me this email on the first:

Long long night, day going fine.  He got upset when Luke called and he talked to Luke – said he’d lost his mum (yep, there it is). Luke did his best to reassure him.

  … We’ll be okay my love – it won’t be easy but it is fine….

Will ring in a bit – I’m just scared to cos I don’t want to set him off again, need a few hours of no crying first to recharge my batteries!

and this conversation on the second:

Hey, Dada, what about ice cream?

No love, not now, we’ve just eaten a big lunch

No Dada, I don’t want to eat it, I just want to talk about it (folds arms thoughtfully)

Oh, okay, well, how about that ice cream?

Well, I like to drink it when it’s a drink. In the bowl.

When it’s melted?

Yep! (looks pleased with himself)

What else do you know about ice cream?

There’s lots of colours like red and white and green

Mmmm, yum, I wonder what flavour greem is?

It’s……..colomma-ela

It’s what? Melon?

It’s Ela

Ela flavoured?

Yes

Why is it Ela flavoured?

Because it’s green

Then it was this one on the third:

IN bed, ASleep, TEN to seven, NO tears or moanin’….! Man a bad man!

Some days have been worse then others for both me and them. We miss each other. But I know that they are working it out together and growing stronger and closer because of it.

Makes me feel very blessed and supported.

Thank you my love.

Ma and Pa

 

Making it work

We may have finally worked out a system that allows me to get enough solid PhD hours under my belt and still get to be a mum and do all the things I want/need to do around here. This may not sound like a big deal to some. In fact I’m constantly amazed at other women who manage to juggle more kids and more responsibilities than me. But for me (and J) it is a big deal because we have kind of failed in the past. And besides – it feels great and empowering at this stage to see that it just may be possible to achieve everything we are aiming for.

The plan is simple. I wake up early, disentangle myself from Lil I, make a pot of coffee and a thermos of tea, grab the laptop and disappear into Granma’s caravan for 5 hours. I’m aiming to wake up at 5 but it’s been more like 6-6.30 due to various factors (mostly Lil’ I induced lack of sleep). I feel so productive anyway. The rest of the hours needed to fill the 40hr/wk quota I attempt to make IMGP7238up in the afternoons or evenings. But really I’m not that worried. I feel like the 5 hours I do are hyper-productive because they have to be. I’m not a PhD student asleep at my desk or wasting time on facebook. Any distraction that pops into my head during this time, mostly garden related, I jot down on a piece of paper to address after ‘school’.

Like I said it’s not an out of this world strategy. But it is ground breaking for us.  The whole time we were in Melbourne I struggled to get enough study done. J was either working, or recovering from a late shift or there was some housework that urgently needed doing or the guilty lure of getting Lil’ I out of the suburban house and doing ‘things’. For some reason it feels really brave to write that. Admitting that we don’t have everything together and that sometimes (often?) we suck at life. It reminds me of this post by Clean about the tendency for people to crop out the messier parts of their lives on blogs and social media – which is kind of shitty because it leaves others (me) feeling inadequate.

For us, part of the problem has always been that my most efficient working window is in the morning and J really struggles with mornings. And of course mornings in our house are no longer just cups of tea and cigarettes for him. No. We have a toddler that needs things and who doesn’t understand that mornings are sacrosanct and who will ask/whinge/argue about anything at any time. But god bless him (J) he is getting better (awesome even) and I can, finally, picture what doing my PhD will look like.

And it makes me really happy. Like anything – when you are achieving things you feel good. So at this moment, right now, I am happier than I can remember being in a long time. We have so many things to be grateful for – not least being that we are both working towards our future in ways that are tangible and valued by both of us. Me trying to further my academic career with an eye for future consultative work and J building our future (and current) home/haven.

And what can be better than a sunny winters day, reading about intercultural capacity deficiency (yeah that does it for me – not because a deficiency of intercultural capacity exists – but that someone is writing about it), and basking in the sunlight and sounds of father and son building a swing as they filter through the caravan curtains.

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