adrift on a cosmic ocean

Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.

Separation and reunification

Posted by Oliver on the 14th of March, 2012 in category Thoughts
Tagged with: emotionsfluvacation

If you know me from my professional life you may think of me as a techy, obsessive-compulsive, slightly (or aggressively) arrogant person driven to making some cool large systems work. But I'm also a family man, and for the last two months I've been separated from two-thirds of that family. During the last vacation back to Australia, I came back at the start of January while my wife and son stayed on for a duration we didn't have concrete plans on at the time.

It ended up being two months almost to the day, and while I kept myself busy with work in general as well as trips to the US for work and Brussels for FOSDEM, I was completely unprepared for the emotional upheaval that hit me when they returned. Needless to say, biological mothers are hit with a barrage of various chemical rebalancing acts which, combined with the addition of a newborn, add up to be a formidable force in the first few weeks and months of the baby's life. As a man, I don't get the same effects (although sympathetic effects can't be ruled out) but despite society's expectations on males and my own generally robotic appearance day to day, I found I was hit with a wall of emotion in those first few days as well.

It was an undefinable experience. I couldn't analyse it or understand it, but I knew it had me in its grasp. The responsibility of taking care of a fragile life form, being the only force in the universe that can keep this thing alive; but that again puts it into too tangible forms. As much as you can have these things going through your head and know that you are completely capable of it, the emotion still hits you.

And now that they are back again I found myself in the same place. Not sure I could do it, especially with a child that had aged and matured in just the two months he'd been away. New behaviours, slightly more grown-up features. Just back from the airport, I was going to duck out briefly to grab some take-away food since we had almost nothing in the house and the little guy burst into tears just as I was walking out the door. That's putting it mildly - he just lost it completely. I'd be lying if I said it didn't break my heart. I think both of us missed each other more than we realised.

Now he has some kind of flu which has spread to the rest of us. I've been off work since last week and taking care of a snot-dribbling, but still amazingly energetic two-year-old is draining to say the least. Me and the little guy have been sleeping on the sofa-bed to give Mama a chance to rest after the draining flights from Australia, which means not much sleep for either of the boys unfortunately. It's not a great start to the year (now that we're all together, this is our year beginning effectively) but we still have hopes it will be better than the last one. Kai will be going to Kita, Ange will have some freedom and do whatever she wants after two years of full-time caregiving and I'll be my usual effervescent self with any luck.

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