Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2016: January

31/01/2016

In the back of your mind you always know that your family is more than the sum of it’s parts. A family isn’t just five people of varying sizes living under one roof, it’s more than that, it’s a unit, an entity all of its own.  But knowing in the back of your mind and seeing it put to the test are two different things.  For us, this month has been the toughest since I went back to work full time.  My job has always had the occasional “rocket launch’ moments, when working every minute of every hour of every day (sometimes literally) starts to become all you’ve ever known, but it’s been a while since I was at the forefront, and even then I was cushioned a little by only working three days a week.  It’s been hard work.  Good work though, the kind of work that I want to be doing and to build my career with, but even when you know that something has long term payoffs it can make you tired to the point of speechlessness.

I’m, if not exactly used to, at least aware of the impact that has on me, but it’s the impact on us as a whole family that has been so both perfectly logical and completely surprising.  In an ideal world you’d think hardworking breadwinner has to up the ante so supportive spouse pulls out all the stops, healthy nourishing suppers, encouraging notes sneaked into the pack lunch, children entertained during rare moments of downtime so that you can get all the rest you can find. But it doesn’t work like that.  Poor old supportive spouse is left parenting without any meaningful break, without the chance for adult interaction of an evening, without really knowing whether they’re coming or going because little mrs breadwinner is at the beck and call of other people, and with three small children who thrive on a rhythmn that has been shaken out and upended.

It isn’t a yin and yang situation, if I’m stretched thin, so is H, and not only can the children sense the exhaustion, but they’re discombobulated too. Pip can’t work out where Mama has gone, but only knows that he wants her back, he wants her now and he’s not prepared to let her out of his sight, or be put down, even when soundly asleep (which only lengthens a late night working into the early hours), Kitty looked crushed when I said that I couldn’t do the school run, and Elma quickly got overtired by staying up late to make sure that I came home.

It’s such an odd balance to be making; on the one hand this is good for me professionally, and that in turn is good for the whole family, but in the short term we all feel the strain as the pressure bites down.  And thankfully this last week I snatched an afternoon to work from home and collect Kitty from school, I was home on time-ish (I was late but it was the train’s fault not mine) on Friday and there’s just a glimmering of blue sky and calmer days ahead.  We didn’t snap, but oh am I glad to be walking away from the moments when it felt like we might.

And so this month’s portrait of the five of us is brought to you by Failure to Prepare (I forgot to bring the tripod) and The Eleventh Hour (taken yesterday).  Our heads are half chopped off because the camera slipped, everyone except me seems to be playing one of those “guess whether I’m smiling or not” games, and to be frank, H and I look properly shattered.  But I’ve never regretted making the effort to take a Me and Mine photo, never once looked back and thought I’d be better having not bothered, and I’m not planning on starting now.  It is us, holding on to the rollercoaster that’s been January and still together as my little family of five:

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And I can’t go without showing you just one more photo – while H and Kitty were at the opticians, Elma, Pip and I had a picnic snack at the park, and thought we’d dummy run a set up for our family photos – Peekaboo world!

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The Me and Mine Project

 

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  • lucy at dear beautiful 31/01/2016 at 7:35 am

    Oh Carie this sounds so much like our month. Rich has been run absolutely ragged by work, and while we know it has such great long term gains for us all, it’s been hard for me to get no break. And it’s been hard on the kids too, especially coming on the back of two weeks of together at Christmas; I’ve heard a lot more “where’s Daddy?” and “when will Daddy be home?” than normal this month. But it just makes you grab those moments in between a bit tighter. We normally plan a lot for our weekend but have been enjoying “down time” more… in between inevitable work calls and Rich “catching up” at nap times and bed times.
    And I think it’s nice that your photo really reflects your month; you as a unit, clinging together through the wonky times. Hehehe! x

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:08 pm

      Maybe it’s been a January thing – lots of tough months all round!

  • Sherry 31/01/2016 at 7:43 am

    I have just dropped my hours from full time as it was a constant whizz of madness. It’s a very cute photo of you all x

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:08 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  • sustainablemum 31/01/2016 at 8:21 am

    The fact that you realise the impact means that it will be all alright. It is when we don’t and things start to slide and th shouting and blaming starts that we have to worry. It is difficult to live through but, hopefully, in a few weeks time you can look back, smile and say we did it. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen often? I also hope that February is a little less busy so can you find that lovely balance you had of working and being with your family.

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:09 pm

      Thank you lovely – and I can see things already heading in that direction – I had a couple of very welcome emails today that calmed things down a lot for this week!

  • Hannah 31/01/2016 at 9:04 am

    Oh Carrie, I almost cried reading this post, it sounds like a manic month, I hope it settles down soon and you get the rhythm back soon. It will be worth it in the long run and you are so good for keeping that in mind when its tough. I love this photo of your family, and your description of how it came to be! Sending hugs xx

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:10 pm

      Aww thank you lovely 🙂

  • Amber 31/01/2016 at 9:28 am

    Oh Carie, I’m feeling every inch of this right now and it’s exhausting. I hope that it eases up soon for the both of us. xx

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:10 pm

      You and me both my dear – fingers crossed for a very calm February!

  • Jenny 31/01/2016 at 9:28 am

    OH we have felt the same about January, goodbye. These are too cute splashes of happy moments. It seems January was soooo busy for us too. I am looking forward to February. Lovely captures Carie #meandmine

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:10 pm

      What is it with January this year!! I hope your February is calmer too 🙂

  • Sally 31/01/2016 at 9:31 am

    It looks a perfect photo for this month, you’re all clinging on to each other! As much as you’re a good team and both work together for the good of your family, I think H is very lucky that you’re such an ‘aware’ partner in the team. possibly much more aware and understanding than most hardworking breadwinners are I think!!! Hoping the signs are true and February calms down for you.

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:11 pm

      Aww thank you lovely – I think it comes from both of us having been on the other side as it were – we can see the true colour of the grass on the other side!

  • Caroline 31/01/2016 at 12:05 pm

    Sounds like a very big step as a family, but I hope it is one that can make the balance a little easier in time. lovely candid photo, sometimes the lesser planned photos are the nicest. x

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:04 pm

      It’s been a tough few weeks but fingers crossed it’s already calming down!

  • Lee Cockrum 31/01/2016 at 3:01 pm

    I wish I could reach through the phone and hug you, or bring you dinner. I hope things calm down quickly:)

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:01 pm

      Oh that would be wonderful wouldn’t it – thank you 🙂

  • LauraCYMFT 31/01/2016 at 7:11 pm

    January is always such a whirlwind month I feel. I love your photos! It’s hard being a working parent!

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 11:00 pm

      It is but it’s generally worth it – I’ve just got to get through the crazy times!

  • Stephanie 31/01/2016 at 7:27 pm

    Oh what a crazy month for you all, I hope over time things settle down and you don’t feel so crazy all the time. I love your photo, it reflects perfectly your month and your family. I often think Oh what a rubbish photo we did this month but then realised it didn’t matter. Life is not always perfect and its just us still!

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:58 pm

      The best thing about my work is that I know that it will eventually calm down – it’s the advantage of having deadlines set by a judge – it’s really busy while you get ready but once you’re through them it gets a lot better and fast!

  • Helen | Wonderfully Average 31/01/2016 at 8:45 pm

    Sounds like it’s been a tough month. I’m glad that there are glimpses of calmer times ahead. I love how the picture is so representative of the month you’ve had, and I love the picture of Elma and Pip! Xx

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:55 pm

      They’re such a cute little duo nowadays – they’ve really come into their own since Kitty started school!

  • Louise 31/01/2016 at 9:35 pm

    What a tough month January has been for you all and it is a scenario I can certainly relate too, albeit from the other side – you’re right in that it isn’t a ying and yang situation – that if one of you is stretched to breaking point, so is the other and everyone is out of sorts as a result. Glad you managed to grab a moment at least to take a family snap together – it does seem to reflect the rollercoaster that January has been for you all and the fact that you are still together and holding on. Hope February brings some rest and will be a little easier for you all x

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you – it’s definitely been better so far 🙂

  • Bex @ The Mummy Adventure 31/01/2016 at 9:39 pm

    At least once a year every family needs the last minute selfie – it sounds like it sums up your month too. I hope February is calmer for you all x

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:54 pm

      Well we’ve got ours in early then!

  • Alex Bump to Baby 31/01/2016 at 10:02 pm

    It sounds like you’re having a tough time at the moment, I really hope things start to calm down a bit for you and that things get easier as time passes. It sounds like you’re doing you’re doing your very best to keep going and to keep smiling. xx

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:53 pm

      Well so far February is a lot better so hopefully we’re through that blip!

  • grace 31/01/2016 at 10:50 pm

    hi Carrie I withheld any comment when you went back to work as it’s your life and maybe it would work out. Then I saw the look in your beautiful son’s eyes change and wanted to yell out don’t do it, but was silent. Now with you struggling (and as you say the whole family is struggling) I am going to speak. I went back to work after my second and it was a mistake, a mistake that had an on going influence in my second childs life even until now. Because of this we decided that when we had more children I would not work and my husband would work in a way that made him as availible as possible (of course something has to give for this to happen and it was the money, we lived a very simple frugal life but were rich in family life) Nothing and I mean nothing can replace these day’s, every mother should be with their young children and in a perfect world would be. I understand that this is often not possible and mothers (and fathers) everywhere are doing their very best to juggle difficult situations. In that light this is not judging anyone; just asking could you reasses your choices? and the real answer would you consider laying all this before the Lord who so loves and cares for your beautiful family? A way will be shown to you all and whether it’s strength for the journey you are on, or a better solution for the family as a whole, you will be shown the way that is right for you. Again please forgive me for stating what I believe to be right for young children and blessings on you all whatever your decision, Grace.

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for your comment Grace and for the care and love that radiates from it – reaching our decision last summer was the result of a lot of thinking and praying and more thinking and praying and was never undertaken lightly. I think if we’d left all of the decision making up to Pip he might well have chosen Mama at home, but we had to decide what worked best for the whole five. There are sacrifices which we made just to have one parent at home and there have been so many blessings come from H having this time with the children that I think we can survive a few weeks under pressure and wonderfully and surprisingly the squall has passed and we’re sailing into February in much calmer waters!

  • Chantal Milk&Nappies 31/01/2016 at 10:54 pm

    What a busy and tough beginning to the year, I hope that it calms down a little and that you find a bit more balance going forward! I love the photo, it feels so honest xx

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:42 pm

      Well so far February is a LOT calmer – and we’re all enjoying it!

  • Heledd - Running in Lavender 31/01/2016 at 11:04 pm

    Going back to work is tough and this time of year does seem to make things even harder for some reason – probably because of the short, dark days. I hope things get easier as we move into Spring. Great family pictures, I love the snuggle family shot!! #meandmine

    • Carie 01/02/2016 at 10:41 pm

      Oh this winter really has felt grey and dark hasn’t it – it’s so nice coming out of work now and it being not quite dark yet!

  • Amy @ Very Much So... 02/02/2016 at 10:13 am

    Oh, January does sound like it was a tough month for you. Hope it’s managed to calm down a little now. I don’t know what it is about January but we also struggled this month. Here’s to February hey? Also that photo is adorable! x

    • Carie 02/02/2016 at 10:52 pm

      February all the way – January started with a sickness bug and ended in a hurry – I’m not sorry to be leaving it behind!

  • Gemma - Heart Mammi 03/02/2016 at 9:35 am

    “guess whether I’m smiling or not” games…that made me laugh. Though if my kids are ever cranky I’m going to make them play that game too when we’re taking photos. I hope February eases up for you on the work front, Carrie xxx