Monday, 6 September 2010

A sort of homecoming: Part 1

Okay, my lovely followers, all 46 of you (and thank you to those who joined over the weekend). Six weeks into this blogging caper and I’m really enjoying it. I mean really, to the point where I have to keep an eye on myself to make sure it doesn’t become an obsession (I’m just a wee bit tired, this morning)! It’s such a delight to meet like-minded souls like yourselves with similar tastes and interests. After nearly five years on PB, I feel like I’m bursting with inspiration, as if Pandora’s Box has been opened and a thousand butterflies are taking wing. Ah, loveliness!
However, I feel that before I can really find my stride, I need to fill you in a little more about my back-story. I’m partial to understanding things in chronological order so here’s a quick thumbnail sketch. We can fill in the gaps later but here’s a start. Settle back – this will be a longer post than normal.
Card of Tasmania by the talented Lisa Kingston of Little and Big K 
Right. I was born and raised in Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania which is the smallest Australian state. It’s an island which means you grow up with a particular island mentality I think only other islanders can really relate to. To me, being a Tasmanian means a complex sense of identity which is a mixture of ‘us and them’ (or the ‘Mainlanders’ – note the capital M – as ‘we’ call ‘them’!), fierce pride, uniqueness, independence, resilience, resourcefulness, sometimes a feeling of being the country cousin or little sibling and a naturalness which I find endearing. Having lived overseas and interstate, I’ve loved this place from afar, mostly passionately but sometimes with a touch of frustration. Being a smaller place brings with it the usual small-town politics and rivalries you find anywhere. In the main, however, Tasmania is a wondrous place, rich in history, blessed with nature and people with a sunny, laconic outlook on life.

I am the eldest of three children born to wonderful parents who worked very hard from humble beginnings to put us all through private school and see us off to university (the first in our families to have done so). They now have three children who are university educated, married with young families, working in good professions and own their own homes. I owe them and their sacrifices a huge debt.

Another Little K creation depicting my hometown of Hobart
Growing up in the 1970s in Hobart was a charmed existence, filled with happy-go-lucky days and freedom, glorious freedom. We would head out on our bikes to the local school playground, build cubby houses, play tennis and invent imaginary worlds, only to return home once it got dark. Today’s ‘helicopter parents’ who hover over their children’s every move didn’t seem to exist back then. Our parents let us make our own way, only assisting when someone fell over and hurt themself or needed some food or drink. Independence was encouraged and we relished it.

Hobart by night
Once school and university days were past, it was almost a rite of passage for us to move to the ‘Mainland’ for work and to experience life in a big city. Ian and I left Hobart for Sydney the week after we married as we had jobs lined up. The day we left, I remember looking at a photo montage I had made of school and university friends. It struck me that of the 60 people in the photos, only one would be left in Hobart once we departed. Extraordinary, isn’t it? Most went to Melbourne, handfuls to Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and quite a few to London to live the expat life.

So I’ve chatted to you before about our decade or so in Sydney. You probably have a feel of how much we enjoyed it. Then, one day, with Sam’s birth imminent, Ian was offered a job in Hobart. It was the job he’d longed for and about the only one which would suit his qualifications in Hobart. He’d worked with multinational companies in a particular field in Sydney and Hobart only had one company which filled the bill. So when the opportunity arose, he wanted to grab it. He saw the opportunity to move our little family back to our hometown where we could raise them in the carefree fashion we had enjoyed. Our parents were growing older with health concerns and it was becoming harder for them to travel to visit us and more expensive for us to see them (given we had to pay adults’ fares for flights once the pixies turned two).

Life in Sydney without family support was becoming harder and more stressful. We couldn’t see how we would be able to afford to upgrade from our two bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house with garden in a pleasant area. Even if I returned to work, it would be tight on two incomes and there would be the stress of finding appropriate childcare and schooling. Life in Sydney on PB was looking rather daunting.

So, two hours before I gave birth to Sam, Ian had another phone interview with the company. It was the kind of phone call which could change your life.
Come on, answer me!
They were determined to encourage him to accept their offer. Strangely, I was ‘not quite’ into the required headspace to enable us to have a rational and considered discussion about the concept of moving back to Hobart. We had always known the time would come when we would have to have ‘that conversation’ but why, I wondered, did it have to be now? Couldn’t it be in six months’ time, when the bleary early days of sleepless nights and baby mayhem had passed? No, was the answer, we need Ian now.

We drove to the hospital, strangely quiet as a. the children were at daycare, b. I was just so ‘slightly’ preoccupied with giving birth, c. we were running late (of all days!) and d. Ian was trying to work out how he was going to support me and the baby in hospital for five days after my caesarean section, look after the children on his own AND in the middle of all that, have another interview for the job. Oh, and he was also in the running for a job with a company only 10 minutes away from home. With a larger salary than the Hobart proposition.

Sam was born later that evening. He was a delightful little fellow and the birth went well. Ian rushed back to the children and the crazy week started. It was a blur of expressing milk around the clock as I waited for Sam to start breastfeeding properly, hormones racing, recovering from my surgery, the pixies visiting (aged only 3 ½ and 1 ½ at the time), worrying that India had come down with swine flu (she hadn’t), rushed visits from Ian when we avoided the ‘job’ topic and my adapting to the reality of being a mother of three under four.

A day after we returned home, Ian flew to Hobart for a third interview. The company was so impressed with him, they offered to pay all our relocation and moving expenses. That clinched it. We had ‘that conversation’. It was hard. There were tears. We made the decision. Hobart-bound we were.
India meeting Sam for the first time
I think it's time to take a little break, my friends. I promise I'll be back to finish tonight!



  1. Hi Jane,

    Thank you so much for your beautiful comment on my blog today.. it was very sweet.

    Looking forward to the next installment of your story!


  2. You're a wonderful story teller Jane, look forward to the next instalment. It's funny how when things are meant to be, they just are meant to be.

    Michelle x

    PS delighted to see my friend Lisa's work featured here - she's a super talented lady!

  3. Why thanks, ladies. Talk about a long story! J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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