By Legal Eagle

This Garfield cartoon pretty much sums it up for me right now (it’s always been one of my favourites).

I’ve said before, “Sometimes I feel like I’m juggling multiple balls and if I don’t watch out, I’ll drop them all.” I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve dropped the balls. I had a plan this year that I would keep on doing PhD thesis and care for my children – full time Mum, full time PhD. I’ve realised it’s just not going to work. I can’t do justice to the PhD if I do justice to my children. I’ve deferred the PhD for a bit while I work out what to do (obviously, my children are my priority).

I don’t know what to do with childcare. As I’ve outlined, my daughter has never been very happy with creche. I took her out before my son was born because she was so miserable and sick. The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred when I got a “report” from the creche saying that she barely spoke (an extraordinary conclusion; at home, she never shuts up for one second). If she barely spoke, then there were two possibilities. Either they didn’t know who she was, or she didn’t speak to staff because she was so miserable. Neither possibility was acceptable. And I don’t want to put Eaglet No. 2 in creche at such an early age if I have any choice in the matter. What I would really like to do is to pay for someone to come and look after the kids for a few hours while I go and do research, but you don’t get government subsidies for that kind of care, so it will be financially difficult. Of course, the grandparents have offered to help when they can, but this doesn’t work as a long term solution, because grandparents have a life too.

Mum and I have noticed that there is an amazing amount of child-minding done by grandparents. But everyone I know who has started off relying solely on grandparents has had to move to paid childcare of some sort, because the burden has simply been too great. If retired grandparents say, “We’d really like to take a two week holiday,” you can’t say no — and nor would you want to. My parents and parents-in-law have brought up their children already, and deserve to enjoy that! Grandparents are in a cleft stick. They love their grandchildren, and want to spend time with them. They want to help their children, too. But they don’t want to be indentured for life as carers of the grandchildren.

So there are no easy solutions with regard to childcare. I just feel that I’m spread too thinly, and that I’m not doing anything particularly well at the moment (mothering, study, being a good wife, being a good friend). Hopefully deferring the PhD will give me a little breathing space.

For Christians, Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal, while for Jews, Passover or Pesach is a time to celebrate a long and difficult journey to the Promised Land. I hope some Easter/Passover spirit rubs off on me while I work out how to get the balls back up in the air again.

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