Thursday, 8 October 2015

The childless woman's guide to surviving school holidays

 Late September/early October sees school holidays come around again here in New Zealand. In my No Kidding life, this can creep up on me. Suddenly, I'm assailed by people and noise. Though I can tolerate people and children and noise, if I don't have to, I prefer to avoid them. After all, I am accustomed to a much more peaceful environment! Besides, even though the sight of children does not upset me these days, being surrounded by boisterous families can make me feel isolated, and I prefer to flee home or to a favourite, safe environment. I am fully aware that frazzled parents can't do this, and face many more challenges to surviving school holidays. Still, this isn't a blog that addresses their issues - it addresses mine. So here are my tips to surviving school holidays relatively stress free.

  1. Don’t travel. The planes, trains, ferries, roads, and airports will be clogged with families on holiday, accommodation will be harder to find, and prices will be higher.

  2. Stay in Wellington and drive to work. There’s no traffic  – the streets are clear in the morning, travel times are dramatically reduced – through a combination of parents not driving their children to school in the mornings, and the absence of parents as they take a week or more off work to get out of town with their kids.

  3. Go to the gym. Unless it has playgrounds or childcare facilities, it will be empty. Even the spinning class was cancelled this week due to lack of interest.

  4. Avoid the Malls and cinemas and museums (especially Te Papa), like the plague.

  5. If you must go to the movies, then go to Lighthouse cinemas, or the Penthouse, or another of the boutique, art house style theatres. Do not go to see a blockbuster in the middle of the day -  you will regret it! I'm sure you can wait two weeks to see it.

  6. Choose your coffee venues carefully. The CBD is usually a safe bet, but beware that in the holidays, there will be families and children in town. Think about the nature of the café and its surrounding environment. Miramar’s new Park Kitchen is sleek and modern, and was quiet late last week. The entire Khandallah Village was empty this morning – the usual yoga mums are all off ski-ing or in the Pacific, the nannies have the week off, and the café was peaceful. However, I doubt it was the same just down the road at the more child-friendly Ngaio café. Beach Babylon in Oriental Bay never has many children, and didn’t this week either, but I didn’t even attempt to go to the Tugboat Café, just a few hundred metres up the road, situated as it is next to a small sheltered beach and playground.

  7. Go get a massage or facial or both. Serenity guaranteed.

  8. Alcohol. Go out for a drink instead of a coffee or lunch, revelling in your freedom, and making the most of these lighter evenings.

  9. But if you have a visit from an out-of-town child, disregard all the advice above, and head to the zoos, malls, cinemas, Te Papa, and cafés with playgrounds, bake cupcakes and build forts inside or out, play “spot the tui,” and have your first ice-cream of the season. And enjoy!

  10. Don’t feel guilty that you can enjoy your peace and serenity, whether it’s the less stressful commute to town, or the quiet café, or the calm, quiet house after guests have gone. 

Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

Monday, 5 October 2015

The moment you realise you're grown up

I’ve heard a number of parents say that they really realised they were grown up when they had children; a statement which of course makes me cringe. The thing is, I can’t imagine waiting until I had children – unless I had had them when I was still a teenager – to realise I was grown up, and I am sure my friends with and without kids would agree with me. So the last time I heard/read this, it got me wondering, “when did I realise I was grown up?”
  • It might have been when I was lost in Bangkok when I was 17, and knew that I had no choice but to find my own way to my destination, and back to my house across the city.
  • Or was it a year later, after my second term at university, when I was able to pay all my own bills, and never again needed to rely on my parents financially?
  • Or was it several years later, when my mother had cancer, and for the first time I felt the switch of the care-giving relationship?
  • Or maybe it was a few more years on (still not yet 30), when I first represented my country at an official international meeting in Vietnam, sitting behind the New Zealand flag (and between Netherlands and Norway – my friends Ron and Knut – ensuring we always had fun at those talks), reading a statement I had written on behalf of my government.

I understand that having children means you are wholly responsible for another human being, and that awareness of this can be overwhelming, but surely for most people, it isn’t the first time they realise they are grown up?

Monday, 28 September 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Mothering

I'm currently away from home, mothering my mother who is vanishing as she stands right before me, unable to understand why I do the things I do only because they must be done to help her, confused at the additional struggles that would make life difficult for anyone, let alone someone who is slowly forgetting everything, including herself.

I talk a lot on this blog about finding joy in the small things, and we still laugh and enjoy a cup of tea and a citrus slice, or the snow on the mountains today, or the elephant seal pup on the beach on Saturday.

But it is not lost on me that this will be my only experience of mothering anyone, when things happen in reverse, and there is no great joy (and even the little joys are disappearing daily), and there is in its place only sadness. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Infertility: why I'm glad I live in New Zealand

There are many reasons I'm glad I live in New Zealand - though today, the weather is not one of them! But these are the infertility/no kidding reasons why I'm glad I live here:
  1. IVF/assisted reproduction here is regulated, protecting both the child and the mother from unscrupulous operators.
  2. IVF is publicly funded for two cycles (provided you’re under 40 years of age, and transfer only one embryo), which isn’t as generous as Australia or Canada or many European countries, but is still much more generous than so many other countries in the world (including of course  US).
  3. New Zealand is not a religious country, so we don’t have quite the same emphasis on church and family that throws up a lot of situations causing pain for others.
  4. Our first female Prime Minister had children, but our second didn’t, and it really wasn’t much of an issue (unlike the misogyny and vitriol that rained down on No Kidding Julia Gillard in Australia), reflecting perhaps a society that is (relatively) open to difference.
  5. We have a social welfare system that, although it isn’t particularly well-funded, will still provide care for us in illness or our old age if we need it.
And last, but certainly not least,
  1. We don’t have baby showers.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Searching ... searching ...

Calling all Blogger experts!

I find the Search feature on Blogger to be really inconsistent, especially compared to that of Wordpress, where I write A Separate Life and other blogs. For example, all posts in my Gifts of Infertility Series have been given the label Gifts of Infertility, but if I search for that series or label, I don’t get all the results I should. In fact, eight of the 23 posts in that series are missing in the search results – ranging between #1 and #18, so it’s not an issue of the order in which they were posted.

Another post I refer to and link to quite frequently, entitled Why?, never shows in the search results. I even searched for "Why?" with the post Why? up on the same page, and it was not included in the search results!

I can find everything easily behind the scenes in my lists of posts by searching for particular labels or words, so why doesn't it work on the front end of my blog?

Any suggestions for a solution, so that others can find my posts easily?