An odd re-re-start

September 23, 2016

I started my first maternity leave from a career in the satisfying and challenging town planning sphere in mid-March 2007, not quite (obviously) a decade ago.

The learning curve for new parents can be pretty steep.  For instance, how do you get a month-old bub to sit up and still and not smile for her first passport photo?  Or what do you do when living in a country whose entire food supply you don’t trust, yet bub is now six months old and probably ready to start eating something other than breastmilk?  And when do they sleep???

A couple of years later I did it again and this time enjoyed over a year out of my career simply because, then as now, child care places were next to impossible to secure.

What this boils down to, career-wise, is that for the past nine and half years, what with throwing in some travel and moving country a handful of times I have been in paid employment either part-time or not at all.

Until this week.  This week I was offered full-time employment, not once, but twice.  How’s that?  The first offer came from an unexpected source- the asset management branch of the NSW Department of Education.  This quite appealed because I care very much about public education and the opportunity to plan and deliver quality new, well-located, schools and effective upgrades to existing ones is a process I think I could do well and enjoy.  Everything was set last week for me to begin this week Monday.

Spanner in the works time…

On Friday I took a call from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment offering me a job for which i had interveiwed for over a month ago and which I had largely given up on.

What to do?  What to do?

Actually it was quite simple… the Education job was offered as a temporary contract for eight weeks, the Planning job was offered as a temporary full-time senior position for eight months (covering maternity leave, coincidentally.)  I accepted the Planning job and rang the recruiter handling the Education job to explain that I appreciated his work on my behalf and even though I had accepted the position and was due to start the very following Monday, I must now back out, essentially because I got a better offer.  Quite easily one of the most difficult telephone calls I’ve ever made.  (We spoke about open and honest communication and respect, and maintaining relationships, and not burning bridges; I haven’t heard from him since, despite his affirmation he would call me on Monday.)

Now I was due to re-enter the paid workforce, with the state department of planning, where I had previously worked when taking that first lot of maternity leave, on Monday.   Wow, more than four years after leaving the paid workforce entirely I was diving back in full-time!  Except as it’s working out, more wading in from the shallow end than diving…

Late on Friday, Planning called and said the paperwork just wouldn’t be ready in time, could I postponed starting to Wednesday?  Ok, sure, why not?

Wednesday morn I turn up at the appointed time, get a security pass, have my mug shot taken, fill in reams of forms, hand over my passport (and get it back), take a tour of the building, though I do recall it well from when I was last in it, and then meet my new team!  After a day and half work stops.  The boss orders pizza, we drink the wine left in the fridge and start to pack all our files etc into boxes.  You see, the department is moving to a new location over the weekend.  Was it me?

Additionally, we have booked and paid for a week away, next week.  Meaning my full-time career replug is actually three days, a week off and then a long weekend Monday, and also a Friday off as we have tickets to Taronga zoo’s 1o0th birthday party that day, so another three day week.  I’m sure the full weeks will hit me like a mack truck when they do happen, I was already quite tuckered out just yesterday!

All-in-all I think calling it an odd re-re- start to my career is not inaccurate.  Wish me luck!


P.S.  I am extremely thankful to all the people that got me over the line to this point; Andi Daniels, Sarah Graham, Tina Harris, Chris Hilliard, Elizabeth Kinkade, Tim Archer, Norma Shankie-Williams, Emma Booth, Emma Cain, Amanda Jackes, Belinda Morrow, Berlinda, and of course Paul, Percy and Tally.


Happy Seventh Birthday, Tally!

September 22, 2016

Dearest Tally,

Welcome to your eighth year!  The past seven have been such a joy to spend with you.  There’s a number of particular things worthy of mentioning about your seventh year.  It’s been one of big changes and some really special efforts from you.  I am very proud of you.  So let’s get started…

Shortly after your sixth birthday, celebrated at tranquil Crow Lake, you started grade one at Thornhill Woods Public School.  This was a big step from kindergarten with the change of classmates, teachers, playground (no more kindergarten pen.  Never did like that term.) and expectations.  You began to make solid progress with maths and reading.  Your pattern recognition was exemplary and your creativity always off the chart!

At the Christmas break we went to visit our family in England.  Do you remember?  We had a great time playing with your little cousins, you were very thoughtful and gentle.  We went to Paris for a few days where unfortunately you weren’t feeling well for one day.  You recovered enough to enjoy Nutella crepes and hot chocolates!  Wasn’t that delicious?  We also spent a day at the Harry Potter studios outside London.  I think you really liked that present from your aunts and uncles.  It was amazing, hey?  You recognised a lot from the books and movies.  Then we went on to Iceland for a few days.  How weird were the hot pools and the nearly freezing air?!  You insisted on going down the water slide, in two degrees in Reykjavik.  Lucky the pool at the bottom was geothermally heated a lovely warmth.  And very well spotted you- seeing the Auroa Borealis out the plane window on the way over!

Back at school you were working hard on your school work and making friends.  We often walked home from school with either Kiki or Geri.  I know you liked playing at Kiki’s house and particularly liked having Edwin visit us or meet at the park.  We all liked when Geri started babysitting you and Percy sometimes.  I think she was lots of fun for you guys.

Then in April is was time to pack up, live in a hotel for a week and come back to Australia.  I know it hasn’t been the smoothest transition between schools and friends.  You have struggled and had some problems.  The important things to remember is you tried really hard, to be kind, to be patient, to be fair.  The rules are different at this school to your Canadian one and we just have to adapt to that.  Trust me, the ability to cope with change and be adaptable will be on the most important things you can learn and have throughout life.

I’m very proud of your improvement in reading.  You still say you can’t, but you’re not fooling me!  The more you practice the better you’ll get, and then you’ll not be beholden to having the stories you really want to read, being read to you.  I know you tire of me repeating myself to you, nevertheless it doesn’t get less true for the repetition- there is all the knowledge, all the adventure, all the truth and all the stories in the world, as well as many from off our world, contained between the covers of our best ever invention, the humble and the brazen book.

Tally, for your seventh birthday you asked if you could celebrate at home with a few of your friends, eating treats and watching a movie together.  I’m not sure how much of the movie got watched but the floor was carpeted in popcorn and the trampoline for a good work out.  That’ll do.

You’re seven now.  I hope the silliness and the affection and the questing that have brought you this far will continue to take you to many amazing places; physical, figurative, imaginative, emotional, with family and friends.

Happy birthday my talented, terrorising, tenacious, talkative, tender, terrific Tally!