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Aussie Life Challenges

Returning Wombat

I’ve been feeling out of sorts, since Monday the 1st of February 2016 to be precise. That’s 1,862 days – I worked it out. The day Chief and I left Adelaide for a new life in Brisbane – the day I checked out of being a hands-on Mum and the day I became not me. 266 weeks of not being my true self. That’s a long time to be out of sorts in anyone’s book.

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, the ‘Sunshine State’. It has a subtropical climate which means half the year is dry, hot and sunny and the other half is wet, hot and humid. A clean and modern city with a twisting river at its heart, fine entertainment hubs, an efficient public transport network and nice people – really nice people actually, making it one of the most ‘livable’ cities in the world. Yes, not a bad place to live at all, and yet somehow my life had been altered into something quite different.

Chief was beginning his dream job – it was massive and amazing to see where his career path had taken him and one which he will write about one day I’m sure. I admit that I moved to Brisbane to support my husband and not because I wanted to (cue Tammy Wynette). We’d left behind our two young adult children to fend for themselves and I checked out of mummy duties; I fled the nest – not the babies.

We took up temporary residence in a furnished flat overlooking six lanes of main road (no Chief did not think of that when he checked it out). My job search continued and by the end of the month I took up a temporary four-month contract with a community-based organisation.

After a few weeks in our temporary rental, our shipment arrived from Adelaide and we moved into another rental, only this time a townhouse in the suburb of Paddington – just a stone’s throw from Chief’s place of work.

Life settled down; I joined the local gym, found some lovely walks and enjoyed exploring the new shops and cafes. The kids would come to visit, work got busy and before I knew it, I was on that treadmill you’re all familiar with.

I secured a full-time role with the same organisation. A role doing what I love in the volunteer management space.

Before long I realised that I needed more people in my life than those I worked with (sorry, no offence). I joined photography groups and would attend workshops when I could, and quite often the same people would attend – it was good and familiar. Through Chief’s work we were fortunate to be invited to plenty of corporate hospitality events. I met some beautiful people and we had great times together.

By early 2017, we were ready to commit to buying our own property, a new house within 5kms of the city centre. Chief wanted a property that required low maintenance – I was all for renovating a Queenslander – it didn’t happen.

Chief has a busy role as a venue catering manager at a stadium and during the rugby season and in our pre-COVID world was not home much. Then his love affair with the golf course started and I would always send him on his way. ‘Of course you can play golf darling, you deserve it. No, I don’t want to take up golf thank you’. (I tried caddying once – it didn’t end well.)

Before we knew it, Chief was doing his thing and I was doing my thing – meeting in the middle for dinner, the occasional outing and social event. I did the domestic chores on the inside, he did them on the outside; I had become a housekeeper with a full-time job on the side – something had to give. It didn’t.

Part of the mission statement of the organisation I work for is to ‘help people to live life in all its fullness’. I see this message every day when I turn on my laptop and ironically, every day I would think to myself – this is not me, I am not living my own life in all its fullness and I needed to do something about it. I didn’t. I got miserable.

Then, late last year when I was stranded in Adelaide for six weeks after the wedding, Chief called me one day and announced that I needed to be in Adelaide. “I am” I replied. “I mean all of the time,” he said. Just at that moment a light of realisation clicked on, he was so right. He knew me better than I knew myself, and he knew that I was in my happy place, and that made him happy. As we all know, life is too short to be full of regrets. We’d spent our whole lives together living by that very mantra and making sure we would never regret. But what about ‘us’? Knowing that I’ll step back into being a hands-on mum and now with the added excitement of becoming a Grandmother soon, fills Chief with happiness. We’ve known each other since we were nine years old and married for 32 years – of course we can make the long-distance relationship work – loads of people do it, right?

Just a couple of weekends ago I was in Adelaide for my daughter-in-law’s baby shower. It was a lovely occasion and we played games. Aunties and friends were all laughing and discussing what my son’s responses would be to the questions and I actually had no idea – other people knew my son better than I did. If that wasn’t a sign I needed to be nearer my off-spring, I don’t know what is!

Moving plans were made and a new job secured (yes really!) and then just as it was all coming together, COVID-19 reared its ugly head and challenged me to change my plans in just 24 hours.

More to come.

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