I don't know about other women but this is the only time I read up to date magazines. Alone. Clinics only have those complimentary health magazines that the Health Board dishes out (so no sexy men there) and even they are from last year.
After I speed read through a few Women's Weeklys, my mind wanders. And today it brings me back to a moment some weeks ago.
I had seen an ad for Disneyland and when I told Max about it, I started to cry. I so want to bring Poppy to Disneyland to experience its wonder and magic. I just know that she will love it. But we just can't afford it.
Max's salary (at this point I remind everyone that he's on a local package, and not a fancy expat salary) keeps us afloat and if we want anything extra, I have to bring in the extra dollars (I also want to point out that Max has chosen to work on a part-time basis so that he can spend more time with us - he ends work at 2pm on most days this month). There is only so much I can write because it takes time to write and research, and I can only do it when the girls sleep. Which means only at night. When there are other things around the house to do a well.
Technically I could set Poppy in front of the tv and ignore Calla on the playmat and pound away on my computer, but that's not what I chose to stay home for. I've chosen to be at home with the kids, and work on the side, not the other way around. I'm proud to say that I have hardly ever given priority to work over the kids. Only on very rare occasions do I have to say "Wait, Poppy" and hide in the room when a deadline is drawing dangerously near. Other times, I don't answer emails when the kids are awake. Everyday, my computer remains off in the day and my phone only gets turned on after Poppy gets on the school bus.
With two full time salaries we could have jumped on a plane at any time to go for a short break. Not that we used to do that, but we could have. It's always nice to know you can do something right? Whether or not you want to isn't the point, it's that you can. And now we can't.
But we made this decision together without the influence of drugs or alcohol. Actually I decided to stay home and Max just said ok. So well it's just my own choice and I have no one to blame but myself.
There are times that I wonder why I made this choice. Had I continued full time work, we would have been far more comfortable financially than we are now. We would be able to go for annual holidays, eat out more often and be able to flag down a taxi without a second thought. I would be able to buy more toys and books for the girls.
Some days, when Poppy tests my patience or when Calla doesn't want to nap, when I feel and look like crap, when I have a ton to do and keep tripping over toys in the living room and have to constantly answer questions from Poppy, carry on conversations with Max and sooth Calla all at the same time, I think "Hey I used to have hard days AND get paid for them!l Then there are 2 things I want to do:
1) Scream. Is this what I spent 4 years working and studying part-time for? I have a double degree from a prestigious university, kids, I'm an expert in my field, and now I have to learn to speak Spanish from Dora the Explorer's monkey?!
2) Cry. I would do that more often if there were a safe place in my house I could hide to cry in peace without having any random person walking in on me to ask where the animal biscuits are kept or what the dinner menu of the evening is.
I keep reminding myself that despite all the hiccups (and lack of holidays), we are a happy family. We are happy to not have many toys because that means less to clear. We have books, oh we have books, and we read and re-read them. We do lots of pretend play. We constantly look out for free places to visit and I am always researching on fun craft or activities to do with Poppy at home with materials that we already have.
I think that ultimately when the kids grow up, they'll look back on their childhood and perhaps remember a toy or two, but hopefully what they will have the deepest memory of is of their mother, who was there for them, every single day. Sometimes nice and happy, sometimes grumpy and loud, but always with them and always loving them.
A couple of down days, a pathetic bank account and no holidays, I suppose that's a fair exchange if the kids grow up confident and self assured knowing that they are loved and can always turn to is.
So back to the hair salon. I'm given this month's issue of Her World. I see a quote from Ivy Ng, Group CEO of Singapore Health Services (SingHralth), and Her World's Woman of the Year 2011/12.
"When I was young, I said no to most social events and spent all my time outside of work with family. It seems difficult but children do grow up very quickly. The important thing is to have a close relationship with them and transmit the right values."
How true. How very true. It must have been fated for me to see that article.
And it's about this time I start crying at the hair salon.