The house is quiet for a change, even though everyone is home. I am here on a weekday during the day, after picking Sam up from school early with a suspected migraine.
I really needed this time off work.
Working full time at 52 is much harder than doing so at 40 and 41. For one, my body is bigger and less fit and energetic than it was 12 years ago. I come home and I barely have energy to eat dinner, let alone cook it. For the last few weeks, I’ve ordered Every Plate boxes and the boys have cooked dinner three nights a week. The other nights, we’ve had pre-made food from the supermarket, or really simple meals like sausages and mash.
I’ve had occasional bursts of energy and unpacked the odd box here and there, left over from the move, but even on weekends all I want to do is lie down and sleep, or play on my phone. Of course, there are errands to run and groceries to buy, but I haven’t had a chance to enjoy a beach walk yet, or even a walk around the neighbourhood. I do all my walking at on my work lunch breaks and have gotten to know my work surroundings pretty well, including the fact that Myer is dangerously close. But at least I’m walking.
I’ve joined Noom about 5 weeks ago in a desperate attempt to finally lose some weight and have lost almost three kilos to date. It’s slow going. I’ve overhauled my diet, am moving more, but the weight is coming off incredibly slowly. It seems I need to do more to change my diet, like add more protein to my meals and start doing more exercise, other than just walking. I’m considering joining a gym, but am not sure if I would actually go, unless I went directly from work, which would significantly alter our family’s schedule. Will need to think on this more and make a decision.
So far, our new life in Geelong has had its up and downs. The downs mainly for my sons, as they adjust to their lives here. My autistic 18 yo has to get his head around getting himself to his own appointments despite his executive dysfunction and depression. There is only so much I can do for him, but what I can do I am doing. He’s on the waiting list for OT and speech therapy, and I’m trying to get funding from the NDIS for a support worker for him to help with the aforementioned appointments.
Sam is struggling at his new school. He’s not engaging with his classes and hasn’t made any friends yet, but then he’s hardly been there. He missed one week because of appendicitis and one week because of a cold. Apart from that, his attendance has been intermittent and I already had one chat with his Year 9 coordinator about how to help him become more engaged.
I feel so helpless because I don’t know what advice to give him. I started a new school in Year 9, too, and somehow I was able to make friends, but I don’t know what I did to make that happen. It’s true that the friends I made were also newly arrived immigrants who started at the same time as me, but I also managed to make friends with existing students. I just couldn’t tell you how. I’m hoping the Year Level Coordinators will have some ideas.
I’m also realising that I actually have no idea how to parent my autistic son. Even though I know so much about autism, I’ve always focused on his schools and teachers being more accommodating and helping him deal with school work, but I’ve never actually investigated on how to be a better parent to an autistic child. I know that he doesn’t like noisy environments, so I’ve always been prepared to walk away, but I have stupidly taken him to new and noisy cafes and restaurants where he experienced complete shutdowns and I hadn’t even thought about better preparing him for these situations.
I’m only now realising that yelling at him has no effect, in fact it makes him shut down and I don’t have any other strategies for making him listen to me. I find it so hard to remain calm in certain situations. I’ve been wired for anger and explosion from my abusive childhood and it’s so hard to set that aside now.
I am trying though. I prepare myself for things to go wrong, for chores to be not done, for dinner to not be cooked and I prepare my reaction ahead of time. I don’t allow myself to be surprised by anything either of my sons does, which means being hypervigilant and prepared for anything at all times. No wonder I’m constantly exhausted. Still, I’d rather be a better parent, than be super productive.
The long-promised cleaner is finally here. Or rather cleaners. Two of them clean the house fortnightly for an hour and now I don’t have to fight with anyone about cleaning chores, or indeed get stressed about them not being done. I think it’s going to take a much better paying job for me to be able to hire a housekeeper who can cook AND clean, but at least I’ve started the outsourcing journey.
Work is going well. My manager has been slow at doling out work to us admins, which has resulted in a few slow days, but she’s also been cool about me leaving early if I have done all the work for the day. Right now I have a big task on my plate which will keep me busy for a while, so that makes me happy. Everyone I work with is really nice and I am learning heaps about the NDIS, which is helpful in my own navigation of the system. I am not allowed to talk to anyone about it or even interact with any social media posts about it, but I guess that’s the price you pay for regular income in this industry.
My commute to work is only about 20 minutes in the morning and 15 in the afternoon and I love getting home before 5pm, especially when the boys are cooking dinner.
I still haven’t told you about moving day. It wasn’t the best. Two pieces of furniture were destroyed during transit and it seems the transit insurance I hired this particular removals company for didn’t cover individual pieces. Still, the owner did reduce the overall price slightly, but not by what it cost me to replace even one of the items. At least now I have a brand new desk, bigger, nicer and cheaper than the old one. How that is possible, I don’t know. Apparently it’s all to do with globalisation. The other item I can’t replace as IKEA don’t make it anymore, so I’ll just have to make do.
There are still a few full boxes around the place and I need to hang up all my pictures, but as I said, the energy is just not there. When I’ve accrued some leave, I will take a day off and use it to unpack what is left.
That’s all the news I have for you today. Life is ticking along, as it does. We are settling into our new routines and are hoping for an uneventful rest of the year. Sam turns 15 this Sunday, so we’re going out to dinner with my parents and this year I was actually able to afford some presents for him. How is that for a steady income? And I am now the proud owner of a puffer jacket!
Also published on Medium.