I recently read a blog post that really annoyed me (isn't the internet wonderful? Instant access to lots of things to find annoying) titled something like "Why I don't want to have it all". It was written by a woman, who was also a parent, and in the first paragraph made the point that even when both parents work, it's the woman who spends her time juggling work and parenting because motherhood is a state of mind rather than the switch on, switch off mode that working dads adopt. For real? People actually think this way? Is this the world I'm raising my girls in?
The final paragraph concluded that the author was content not to have it all, having given up her job to enable her partner to work longer hours. Fair play for having achieved a state of peace in a way that works for her and her family, but speaking personally, I like to think (hope?) that I can find a way to have it all.
As a full-time parent who works full-time and is also renovating a house and aspires to be a half-decent partner and friend into the bargain, I do spend a reasonable amount of time juggling things around. As does Andre, funnily enough, who also happens to be a full-time parent who works full-time. About this time last year I wrote a post about renovating with small children, where I described our normal routine and how we achieve a balance between taking care of the kids and plastering the walls. That was while I was on maternity leave, and had time to chuck a load of washing into the tumble dryer during the day or do a spot of painting while the kids busied themselves smearing playdoh into the gaps between the (beautifully hand-sanded and oiled) floorboards.
Things are very different now I'm back at work and we have to fit all the housework, cooking and errands along with renovation and occasionally relaxation into a short 20:00-22:00 daily window plus some weekend time. We're still busy renovating - it's just that everything takes a lot longer to accomplish.
Take this chair, which according to the dates of the photograph, was hauled outside and primed back in April, only to be abandoned in the playroom half finished for six months until I finally finished it with a coat or seven of bright yellow paint a couple of weekends ago.
As usual we found it in the cellar when we moved in, along with a matching partner. Waste not, want not; I'm collecting mis-matched chairs for my grand dining table scheme, so decided to sand and oil the wood of one and add a new fabric seat pad, and keep the original battered leather of the other but paint it a bright colour.
It actually looked OK before, but I have no room at my imaginary dining table for two identical (and identically shabby) scratched wooden chairs with partially disintegrating seat pads, and I like the combination of the slick modern yellow with the old battered leather.
While I was painting numerous layers of yellow onto the chair and trying to keep an eye on the kids at the same time, Enrique generously managed to knock the tub of paint over, run through it several times, bound across the patio and through the gate, jump on Penny, run back across the patio several times and then BURST THROUGH THE FENCE INTO THE NEIGHBOURS' GARDEN. Bearing in mind that we've lived here for nearly three years and neither dog has ever tried to break through the fence until this very moment, it was fairly special timing.
So it turns out you can have it all. You can work full-time and be a full-time parent (because oddly enough I don't stop being a parent when I arrive at the office) and still find the time to upcycle random pieces of furniture. It's just that it may take you six months to finish one chair because you can't have it all at the same time, and having it all may include having to scrub all twenty million yellow paw prints from the patio, and your other Jack Russell may just have to live with yellow paw marks on her back until they wear off because you can't be bothered with the effort of washing it off when all you really want to do is collapse on the sofa and have all the wine.
Next project - the fitted wardrobe in our bedroom.