Another year is coming to an end and it has been a long time since I took the time to write a blog-post. But just as in the previous years I want to continue the nice tradition to reflect on the past year and highlight its good and its bad moments and draw some learnings from it.
Quarter One or “New challenges on the horizon”
In the first quarter of 2021 I had to take another parental leave, since we didn’t get a childcare-spot right at the beginning of the year. At first I was angry and frustrated, but having the little one at home for two more months was a good thing in the end. I watched him learn how to walk and experienced very closely how the world became even more interesting for him from his new perspective standing up straight.
And then in March, finally, we started our probation period at a nearby KiTa where already some of my Mom-friends had dispatched their children to. Thankfully the little one did not have any issues with the new situation: right on his first day of KiTa he climbed every jungle gym, played with all the toys and explored every corner of the playroom without even looking at me once. I was proud and scared at the same time. The probation period went so well that I almost couldn’t believe it – and then a Covid-case was detected in my son’s playgroup at the end of March and things quickly got very nasty.
Best moment of Q1: Watching the little one take the first shaky steps on his own. And although he kept falling at the beginning, he kept going on tirelessly and never let himself be discouraged until he finally managed to walk – this kind of perseverance is really something I will remember next time when I miserably fail at something (e.g. the next Yoga-class, learning to play the guitar, using yeast for baking…).
Worst moment of Q1: There was no particular bad moment, but the radical flexibility that parenthood requires is something that I am still struggling with. You need to be ready to throw your plans overboard at any moment because something unexpected might occur and this is a fact hard for me – a person passionate about planning — to accept.
Quarter Two or “Is this my life now?”
Obviously, the KiTa had to close and all kids had to be put into quarantine for two weeks. The probation period was not over at that time, we still had two more weeks to go. Fortunately, the little one did not contract Covid, but all the other famous “KiTa-germs” started to kick in and he got his first severe cold. This cold marked the beginning of a series of illnesses that we were plagued by until the end of the year – and I noticed that it actually is true, when other parents say: in the first year of KiTa you will be sick all the time. All. The. Time.
So we resumed our probation period in the middle of April, where I actually should have had my first working day after the second parental leave. By using up the sick days for the child, my own sick days and vacation days we somehow managed to finish the probation period and I started to work full time again by mid of May. But boy had I underestimated this new daily routine I was subject to: Getting up at 6am (or even earlier, since the little one is an early-riser), preparing breakfast, getting the little one ready for KiTa, taking him to KiTa (which takes roundabout 45 minutes if you walk), rushing home, working, preparing lunch during lunch-break and quickly eating the prepared lunch, working some more, at 3:30pm rushing back to KiTa to pick up the little one, walking home, maybe buying some groceries on the way back, coming home, playing, preparing dinner, eating dinner, getting the little one ready for bed, putting him to sleep (which can take up to an hour), working some more and then finally, if I was lucky, enjoying some free time in front of the TV where I usually fell asleep at 9pm. “Is this really my life now?” I started to wonder after a couple of weeks, when all my energy had been sucked up by this new everyday life. The days started to blend into each other – an indefinable mass of time consumed by different kinds of work and almost no time for self-care or leisure.
Best moment of Q2: A great thing about parenthood is that you get to know so many exceptional people, both children and adults. I made lots of new friends in my neighborhood and at KiTa and I appreciate every one of them. Nothing helps more in difficult times than a community you can turn to for comfort and advice.
Worst moment of Q2: This one evening in midsummer, when it was still bright outside at 9:30pm and I went to the bedroom, closed the blinds and fell asleep immediately. When I lay in bed I still remember thinking: In the time pre-baby I would have been outside now. I would have savored the daylight until the last minute. I would have gone to a bar, to a park, to the open-air-cinema, I would have met friends in their private gardens. And here I am now, falling asleep during daylight and soon it will be winter again.
Quarter three or “Things are handled differently in Russia”
Right at the beginning of quarter three I started a new job – very similar to my old job, but at a different company. A Russian company. Adding a new job to a very challenging not-so-new-anymore daily routine has probably not been the best idea I ever had, but, as we say in Germany: Man wächst mit seinen Aufgaben. Luckily, due to Covid, I could work flexibly from the home office during July and August and only in September it became mandatory again to work from the office three days per week. Going to the office actually turned out to be a good thing: meeting my colleagues more frequently got us closer on a personal level and I started to enjoy their company very much. The only thing really bothering me was that, apparently, things are handled very differently in Russia compared to Germany. I used the term “Putin-style” whenever a small issue was escalated to Moscow or whenever an already tight deadline was made even tighter or whenever more work was piled up on people who already had too much to do. In order to cope with business handled Putin-style I had to become tough and draw some lines – which was maybe a bit risky, but necessary to cope with all that comes with being a full-time working mom. But in the end only results matter and apparently mine are quite okay – luckily I did not get fired at the end of my probation period.
Best moment of Q3: Realizing how quickly I felt “at home” in my new job – both professionally and personally.
Worst moment of Q3: In quarter three the really bad diseases began to strike: after several colds the little one caught hand-mouth-foot disease, which was a horrible experience for both of us. After several days of almost no sleep we had to go to the hospital at night and I experienced for the first time how devastating it is to see your own child suffer without being able to do anything about it.
Quarter four or “Will a lifetime be enough?”
For me October started with a severe cold that knocked me out for almost three weeks (hello KiTa-germs!). I had just started to intensify my gym-schedule and enjoyed becoming fit again very much and then – swoosh – it all went down the drain again. I made up my mind to use every available minute after the cold, that was not consumed by any kind of regular work (my actual job, child-care, household-chores), for self-care. Because that was really something I had neglected for a long time: my own needs. Becoming a mother and taking on a new job had forced me in two very different roles: the parent-role and the employee-role. And although it is a mental challenge to change a diaper one second and do a compliance assessment the next, it doesn’t completely satisfy me. To me there is so much more to life than “just” being a mother and working some job. I have tons of hobbies, interests, passions, things I’d like to try out, places I want to see, stuff I want to learn. Sometimes I think that one lifetime can simply not be enough to experience it all. But you gotta start small and take it step by step. I started going to Yoga-classes regularly, I started playing the guitar again, I took family-photos of a good friend who gave birth in October, I rediscovered a great HIIT-workout that helps me deal with the stress caused by the Russian craziness and, after more than two years of not traveling anywhere, I booked a flight to Lisbon. And now that the year is coming to an end, I finally feel like myself again. Multidimensional. Balanced. With a lot to look forward to in 2022.
Best moment of Q4: There was this one perfect week before Christmas: A Hatha-Yoga class by candlelight on Tuesday, going to the Christmas market with the guys from work on Wednesday, total exhaustion (in the good way) at the HIIT-training on Thursday, a Sushi-dinner-night with a good friend and three hours of just talking on Friday. The perfect way to end a not-so-perfect year.