Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dating reflections

The romantics out there will refute this, but I believe I am also in a dating corner. I am not too stressed about it. Other priorities in my life are more pressing but... Here's the thing:

I'm 45
I have a doctorate
And a good job
And my own (mortgaged) home
And a 7 year old child.

Go on! Prescribe me a man!!

Well I guess it would (commonly) be a 47+ year old, with a similar level of education...maybe divorced, with a couple of kids....

Except I am finding women married to 47 year old Doctors aren't divorcing them in a hurry*. So OK I can down date a little on the education front. Geez I am the first to have a healthy disrespect for academia. There is a slight problem with some that they don't want their partner to be more qualified than them, but presumably there'd be a bunch of 47-57 year olds who could put this aside.

The next hurdle I find is that 47 year old men who don't have this level of education generally had their kids younger, so their kids are all grown up and off their hands (18-25 usually) they express surprise at how young my kid is, and either overtly or not, slight repugnance - they've done that school age kid-wrangling thing. What they are looking for now is a nice mature playmate.

OK so we'll go younger. A nice hot young tradie, whose kids are a similar age to mine. Excellent. Well obviously here competing with the much younger less educated woman. So unless he is completely down on his luck, or a gold digger, he will be looking to find an even younger, hotter tradette. Also he comes with another set of blue collar expectations namely that a woman's place is to keep home.

* A note on divorcing a doctor: Well yes some of them are, but that is because they are dyed in the wool gold plated ass-clowns. The best way to survive in academia is to be right up yourself, and so they are pretty much unbearable. We are much safer not going there sister.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I painted myself into a corner

Well, twice this weekend I have found myself lying on my bed motionless, or sitting catatonic in my car, tears streaming down my face, feeling completely, and utterly overwhelmed.

Over the years various married friends of mine who I thought of as strong and independent women, have confided in me that work, and family responsibilites became too much for them, and they had to scale back and (usually) give up their job or go part time.

My external reaction was always one of sympathy, but my thoughts generally were along the lines of "you princess!!" "lucky you have a man to support you!! goodness me, you were always on top of your game what have you become! stay at home mum?? I can't believe it! where has the fire in your belly gone? where's your ambition??"

But as I lie here, house a mess, nagging insistent voice of my absolutely out-of-control child below, so behind at work it's not funny, all sorts of domestic, admin and repair jobs awaiting my attention I suddenly recognise where they were coming from. There is just NO WAY I can go on like this. Pity I took on a $300K mortgage just before I realised.

I struggled to identify when I went from being in control/having it all.. to this mess. And quite readily I could pin point it.

The turning point was August 2010, when I became seriously incapacitated with hip pain. Up until that point I was strong and could rely on myself. I addition until the start of this school year, I believed my son's reading problems were something he would grow out of, and not insurmoutable, and finally my ex-husband has relinquished his parenting responsibilities for no discernable reason. And as in my previous post, I feel let down by him.

So on top of a full time job (nearly put fool-time), being single, dealing with constant pain, the loss of my ability to exercise and be part of an active set of people, my son's need for lots of extra help with reading and writing.. cinderella (Simon) has scaled back his involvement in Connor's life so I never get a break.

I collapse into bed each night around the same time as Connor, exhausted, with many household chores left undone, and I wake up just as tired. I have no time to myself, and the one thing that might save me from all this.. ENERGY is sapped from me with constant pain.

I spent three full days last weekend, assembling beds, buying plants for the garden, cleaning putting away washing tidying - these three days were sick days after an injection into my hip joint. I reckon I could do quite a good job of housekeeping, if I didn't have this pesky professional job to go to everyday.

I think Simon's peculiar attitude and actions have contributed in a *final straw* kind of way. I would like to say his son is affected by his absence from his life, but really the impact is on me. Connor is so jealous of Beatriz he has withdrawn and just wants to be with me.


So what is the solution?

Stick with the job

I believe sticking with the job will get me the things I need in the long term -education for Connor, money for my retirement, travel etc, but this roadblock/hiccup may very well lose me my job through underperformance.

Would it be better to take time off my job, admit defeat? than to plough on like this and be found out anyway?

I don't feel that I am contributing to society/ making a difference through this job ANYMORE. I did once, but now I am unable to perform at a (to me) useful level. I am not overly invested in it, and would quite like something less cerebral. To this extent, if I could take less money and was free to move around the world, I would happily do something less high status.
HOWEVER there are two important points in relation to this. If it is less high status, I still need to earn money and also it need to be something that is not MORE physically demanding because I am now physically Weak. I doubt I could be a teacher for example.

Address the pain

I have made a lot of effort to address the pain, there has been physio, injections, painkillers... all to no avail...

Give up work
I could be invalided out of work and live off the state. Then the income differential would force Simon to pay me something. But my self esteem would take a battering. If I can hang in for a few more years i can maybe retire early.

Buy in help

Ideally I would not only keep the job, but get promoted so there was enough money to pay for extra tuition and other help. I would like to be able to afford babysitters so I can get out and meet people or do exercise.

Move closer to family

I have thought this one through a fair bit. I am driven by how I might feel if they die and I am not (and have not been) there. I have seen fit to spend 20 years apart from them, and (rather weakly) I have never taken responsibility for this, just always blamed someone else or circumstance.

One of my counsellors said "Well, you know, this happens when people from different cultures and different parts of the world fall in love, often someone has to compromise and something has to give" She didn't say how you were supposed to cope when you fall out of love, and have a child. I tried to justify it by saying well, this is Connor's country, and I love him so I should stay on his account, but again that is weakness. Because I am the adult, I have free will and I have the right to live where I am supported best.

The problem with this of course is that I would actually have to live in the hometown of my parents/sister to get any support at all, and they are getting older and are less likely to be able to help. Maybe to the end of connor's childhood at 18 when they will be 80 and 83 respectively.

Get a man(!)

Losing Neil and no longer having a man in my life is not at the root of this. At least not entirely. It's a contributing factor. If there is someone who is reasonably cooperative, and collaborative, there for you, at least in spirit, for at least some of the time, you feel less alone. By and large from what I have seen lately, they are more trouble than they are worth.

I am even slightly turned off by manhood just at this moment. There usefulness to women is as impregnators and providers, if indeed they can do that. I think by and large these days in 1st world countries where we don't have tigers or marauding gangs of theives the protecting role is defunct.

But all that aside, actually finding a man is very difficult because I have to pay a babysitter for every hour that I am looking. That is just a raw fact.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Well Simon hasn't had much coverage on this blog. Apart from as a pathetic figure, the knight in shining armour who expects you to carry him away on your steed.

There have been reflections on why I married him, but today's thoughts have brought me to a place I could/should have explored months/years ago, if I didn't have this bleeding heart liberal approach to him whereby I think, poor simon, he's sick he can't help it, he's weak I'm strong, I need to facilitate his connection with his son, I need to pay for everything he can't to make sure our son has a good life.

Since meeting his hispanic girlfriend Beatriz things have changed. He always cancels/changes his weekends with Connor.

Well finally my mental health is being affected. The hideousness of middle aged dating, the demands of work, the time needed to support a child with reading difficulties (did I mention) my injuries meaning I can't do sport. All add up to making me feel very alone. In fact hideous as it is, those nights out with singles are better that staying in all the time kid wrangling, and when he just SMS me to say "no sorry, no can do any of the nights I am slated to" (1) the bottom falls out of my world, I was holding out for my weekend off, I need respite (2) I get angry.

Having just bought the cute girl townhouse of my (short term) dreams, my need to be near my family and support group gets stronger. I went out for a singles dinner with a group called " a table for six" on Saturday night. I did not really click or relate to either of the men there, but the women were interesting. Every case of divorced and separated families I can think of the partners either offer practical, or financial support, or the custodial parent has full custody and the freedom to move around. Below I describe the two women I met and the dinner and one other

(1) The first girl had given up work to bring up a family, after the divorce, her ex husband still supports her to stay in the family home and be a full time mum (as does the government) although she is not near her family.

(2) The other girl, was in a situation not unlike mine, she was a 39 year old single mother of one daughter who had an excellent transglobal career. Her daughter though, was adopted, so no pesky father in the background, and she had migrated home to be near her extended family. But she did have the full time hands on job of caring for the child and no respite.

(3) I met a colleague at a conference last month, who had split up with the mother of his only child, she had gone back to her home country, and he continued to support her financially.

How is it? I ask myself that I get the worse of all possible worlds, no financial support from my ex (as in cases 1 and 3), not close to my family for support (as in cases 2 and 3) no financial or practical help from my ex (as in cases 1 and 3), and no freedom to migrate as in (2).

As far as practical help goes, maybe it is just easier for the majority of men just to do the financial thing and be free to get about, socialise, love, shag, drink and work like they're single again. Perhaps, I belatedly realise, shared care is not something that comes naturally to most men, it is a social construct. On meeting Beatriz, Simon wants to be free, and "luckily" for him he hasn't historically earned much, he has a rumbling mental illness that could flare up at any time, and I have a good job, which lets him off his financial obligations to his son. Why has he been pussyfooting around changing diapers and doing the school run all these years. Bugger it!! Be free!!!

Since our parenting plan (where he had 5 nights per fortnight and would've liked more) was filed in court. I propose to give him the option, in mediation, either to take Connor for 5 nights, or he will give me full custody giving me the option to move, and more support from the government if I stay.

Along the way, my mother and Neil had suggested this "full custody" plan to me, but I had always rejected it, believing it to be unfair to Connor and his dad. Now it seems I have to do it for my own sanity.