Being a working parent in the UK is no easy feat, this is something that the resident trivia buff and I have come to learn the hard way. We have three beautiful children (read that as ratbags - especially the middle child) and the choice for us to only have one of us working full-time is down to two reasons. The first reason being, we prefer to be the ones instilling our own principles and values when raising the ratbags, and secondly, childcare costs are enough for one to sell their kidney on the black market just to cover it. I say we learnt the hard way because, we tried the both working full-time gig, and owing to the fact that my personality is more less the "go big or go home" type, I went one step further and got a full-time job BUT in a whole different country... in the Middle East to be exact. So yes, you could say that didn't work out as expected and as Ron Burgundy would say, milk was a bad choice. This then made me realise how the system of "it takes a village to raise a child" back home in Fiji works out so much easier and better for family dynamics.
Growing up as the youngest of 5 siblings I remember being carted off at the beginning of the 8 weeks holiday to the proverbial land of the milk and honey, and not coming back to see my parents till 2 days before school started. (For my non-Fijian readers, our 8 weeks holiday is the UK's equivalent of the school summer holidays, but much more fun and a whole lot cheaper!) I was raised by my parents, (obviously) but spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents. I got my fair share of old school correction, namely in the form of being told to go outside and cut your own switch which would then be used on the backs of your legs, after which you were told to stop crying and pick up the mess you made with the leaves and bits from the bark, fun times I tell you, counselling sessions confirm this. But all in all, it taught me life lessons on hard work, obedience and learning how to share every single piece of clothing; shoes; food and drink.. and I mean everything.
Now lets fast forward 30 odd years later and here I am with the spawn of he-who-must-not-be-named and somewhat coping with not having the "village" to step in and help when needed, but that's where I'm wrong. Being an army family, our village is the other army families that we get to meet on postings, even postings to where dreams go to die. Army families don't have the luxury of time - FOR ANYTHING! For those of us who get posted every 2-3 years, its literally a speed dating of who shall be my friend. I've come up with a brilliant culling method and that is, be my usual eccentric, sarcastic self and the ones who laugh like a Fijian and I mean the really deep belly laughs are the keepers. They survive the cull and they become my village away from home.
My village is made up of a Welsh; an Irish and two English friends (almost seems like the beginning of a good joke huh?? Ok I'm digressing here..) they have been an amazing support network especially since I decided to go back to pursue further studies, and to throw a spanner in the works, I had a baby too. So here I am, in the land of dying embers of dreams, newborn baby plus 2 older children in tow, assignments coming out of my ears wondering, what the hell was I thinking removing that implant.. Actually no, I kid, I've come to appreciate that it still takes a village to raise a child, but being away from home means that you just have the choice of who you want in your village and how they contribute in the upbringing of your children. Safe to say, the Village People have nothing on us!
Till next time, keep warm and stay safe Milwaukee,