Here we are, halfway through autumn, and I haven't even finished catching up in here about summer. I have drafts sitting, waiting, but for today I'm going to fast forward to the present.
I've never been a fan of autumn. In Australia, my birthday always fell in autumn and I was envious of friends who got to celebrate theirs in the more cheerful summer and spring (which I now get to experience). For the most part, though, I've always viewed autumn as the death of summer. Dramatic and pessimistic, I know. It's just how I'm hardwired though - warmer weather and climates will always be my preferred state of being.
That being said, autumn in Seattle is the prettiest autumn I've experienced anywhere so far in my life. Alright, so I haven't been to New England but the way these trees here change colour is hitting the spot. The multicoloured trees are so spectacular that quite a few people I've met here say that this is their favourite time of year. I'm not quite there yet, but I've changed my tune a little - autumn doesn't quite suck so hard.
Things are pretty good in general now. After struggling with working evening and part of the weekends for close to a year now, I've made some necessary changes. The whole reason I began working those hours was I thought it would be my brilliant solution to child-care - at least until Miss P was in school full-time. No stress of rushing between school drop-offs and work. However, instead of that stress, I had the stress of trying to squeeze in helping with homework, school projects, and cooking/organising dinner for everyone in that window of time between school finishing and me starting work. Together, J and I had the stress of coordinating use of our one car, and getting the girls to their kung fu lessons, soccer training, weekend matches. J was having to leave earlier in the mornings to be back in time for me to get to work. When I'd get home, he'd head to bed while I still needed an hour or so to wind down and have some quiet time to myself. We weren't really spending much time together. As for the weekends, I was missing out on a lot of family time and we haven't been able to plan (or take spontaneous) mini road trips to see more of the Northwest. I was feeling like I could barely catch my breath, and during the summer - without school even being a factor - I even had a nasty anxiety attack.
Things came to a head with J taking on a new role at his work, which will see him needing to travel a few times a month, on weekdays. This will make it difficult to schedule my evening shifts, or change them at a moment's notice, so we thought about it and decided it's just not worth the stress any more. With Miss P now in Pre-K an extra day a week, and the option of booking her in for the lunch programme there, I told my manager that I would only be available during preschool hours, that I'd be happy to come in and work mornings and the lunch rush on those days, and that if they didn't have a place for me during those hours and they needed to replace me, then no hard feelings. Thankfully, they seem to really like me and have been super helpful and accommodating. I'm not sure how long this arrangement will work for (school holidays are going to be tricky or impossible, but I'll cross that bridge later), but for now our little family unit is a much happier one. J and I get to spend more time together again, weekend date nights are doable, we all get to eat dinner together most nights now, and the girls seem to love having me around at bedtimes again.
So for now, I'm breathing better and able to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. Some days are still a bit of a scramble, but nothing like the concentrated way that the afternoons had been. I feel like I've gained back a bit of my life, just from freeing up my evenings and Saturdays.
The way the same types of trees change to different hues, the way the leaves seem to dance and twirl as they fall, the way they lay curled on the ground, the way the sunlight makes the raindrops sparkle on them, and the fact that as I'm walking, it's fun to identify the many leaves: maples, alders, oaks, sycamores and ones I've yet to learn the name for... I'm actually enjoying autumn.
Maybe a leopard can change its spots.