Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Two Income Family

I've been working for a week now, and I'll admit it.  Its kind of awesome.  I'm loving being in an office, on a good team and with a real responsibility.  I came in with experience, and people treat me as if I have something important to contribute.  I'm not kidding myself - my job only has limited importance.  Still, it is so nice to feel qualified and valued as a contributor.  After 10 years, I feel experienced as a stay at home mom, learning how to keep my family healthy and balanced, safe and happy amid eight moves.  That is not nothing, and it builds my confidence.  What also builds my confidence?  Walking into an office with a job to do, and getting it done well.

Okay, that well part hasn't happened yet.  I have yet to finish a day of work feeling that I finished my work, and did it well.  I know that will come, but at this point I'm still working on balancing my family's time verses my office's time.  Even though I'm only working 20 hours per week, this balance is proving to be a greater challenge then I had expected.  When the school called me this afternoon telling me to come pick up Annika immediately, I had 20 minutes left on the clock but not even 50% of my work completed.  After a quick chat with my counterpart, she took over my project while I flew out the door.

And then spent the next 85 minutes crawling through traffic to reach my neighborhood.  A drive that can take as long as 3 hours in extreme traffic, the commute has so far only taken me 40 minutes.  Living inside America, those numbers likely make no sense.  In Jakarta, they are routine.  The 3 hour commute only happens under extreme weather, but the drive can easily vary from 30 - 90 minutes with no explanation. 

I needed to hurry, because the school had lost power and canceled school, effective immediately.  Without a housekeeper to call and pick up Annika, she was left sitting at the school until a friend could turn around and retrieve her.  They arrived nearly an hour after they picked up their own child.

There are so many successes in this story.  My co-worker easily picked up where I left off, and didn't question my racing out the door.  My driver focused on the traffic, so I could focus on calling and texting and getting Annika out of the closed and powerless school as quickly as possible.  My friend canceled her lunch plans to return to the school and bring Annika home with her.  Even though I arrived late, I still arrived home before the older girls got off the bus.  All success.

If this had happened on my first day of work, I would probably be writing this in tears.  After a week, I'm willing to chalk it up to life in Jakarta, where school can be cancelled immediately, where I can easily be over an hour away from my child, where everyone else has a nanny to pick up the slack.  And where I can lean on a friend I've only known for a few months.

And bonus - now I've got a paycheck coming to compensate for my lost time!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back to Work

Today begins the next phase.  I am out the door in an hour to begin my new job at the embassy.

The job will go well.  Its a good team, interesting work, a good fit for me personally and for my experience and talents.  I'm not nervous at all.

The house and the family make me cringe.  Is this the right time and the right choice?  Should I be so worried about not being home when my kids climb off the bus?

It is certainly no coincidence that last night I felt painfully homesick.  Homesick for Virginia, where we lived in a house and a neighborhood and walked to school every day and felt like comfortable and cozy members of our community.  We have never felt like that in Jakarta - not like comfortable and cozy members of any community.  At least not yet, and we know that Jakarta is a hard nut to crack.  People go at least a year, if not more before they stop feeling overwhelmed by this city.

Add in the new job with the new commute and the new need to have my hair look nice in 55 minutes...

Fifty-two minutes?  Holy cow!  I'd better get started!