I started this blog almost eight years ago as I was finding my feet as a new parent in a foreign country. If I've realised anything in that time it's that it doesn't really matter where in the world you are; Parenting is a constant process of finding your feet. The fact that I sometimes have to deal with unfamiliar systems, a culture that's not my own and a completely foreign language doesn't mean I have it any harder than anyone else. I have actually struggled at times when parenting in my home country, because I was young and single when I last lived there, and I never had to deal with any of this parenting business back then. So, in truth, I am clueless most of the time regardless.
And each stage of parenting is so very different. Don't you agree? I started writing when I had a newborn at home, and worried about sleep and teething and feeding and every little thing. These days we deal with lost teeth and football and how to contain and channel all that testosterone and energy. My God, the energy! Boundless, endless, deep reserves of it. I wish I had half of it myself. This week alone we've been left perplexed as our eight-year-old has refused to eat dinner two nights in a row. My boys are creatures of habit, and they lean towards fussy at the best of times, but the big guy will almost always eat what he's served. Not this week apparently. He wasn't as vocal about it as his younger brother would be, but it was a very visible protest. The pushing around of food on the plate, the slumping in the chair, the look of utter despair on the face. And all because I have dared to serve something different this week. Nothing fancy. I Googled 'kid friendly dinners' and printed off ten recipes that I thought would be hits. Those we have tried so far, were not... And I remain in a place of trying to find my feet. This week, in the kitchen.
You see, one of the downsides to my real job was the amount of time it consumed. I was constantly feeling guilty that I wasn't "there" more for my kids. That it was often my helper deciding what they would have for dinner, or if I was around, it would be something thrown together at the last minute based purely on what was in the fridge (olives and hummus on toast anyone?). So, when I parted ways with employment I vowed that I would take this time to do all those things on my to-do list, and simply be more present - making more nutritious dinners and lunches was a priority. But after cleaning out the playroom (which basically resulted in a bigger mess that I have yet to clean up), giving old clothes to charity, and organising our 20, 000 photos into some kind of order, I've realised that perhaps I had left these things for so long because they're not any fun, and I'm not very good at them. Same goes for the lunches and dinners. I just used my job as an excuse not to do them.
The positive thing about employment was that it gave me a purpose, I felt fulfilled, and I needed that to balance out the guilt I was feeling over neglecting my children. Now I need to find purpose and fulfilment some other way, and writing again feels like a good place to start. At it's heart that's what this blog is about, the journey and how you find your way through each stage, each moment that feels a little scary and unfamiliar and generally shit. I don't give advice, I don't often have tips on things to do in Hong Kong, but I'm always honest and you may find something here that you relate to, and if you have a moment of "oh fantastic, someone else feels that way too!" then it's all worth it. Will you join me?