Saturday, 3 November 2012

It's been a while...

So, this blog has been dead since May, for which I sincerely apologise. My life has been so busy I don't really have the time or the drive to blog these days. It's a natural process, I think - I started blogging years ago, when there wasn't much support for pilots' wives online, but now there are hundreds of blogs just like this one, so I don't feel the need to fill that void anymore.

What news from me? Well, we're still living in the sandpit, enjoying life for the most part. There are a few niggles of living out here that get us down from time to time (crazy roads and local management styles, mostly) but it's also been very good to us. We've just bought our second property in the UK, which is already let. It's part of our grand plan to buy as many properties as we can, to build up a nest egg for retirement.

We've had some glorious tropical holidays, our son is growing by leaps and bounds (2 and a half now!) and he loves his nursery, where he's learning Arabic, which makes us very proud.

We're heading home for Christmas, which will be fabulous. We miss the UK still, but accept that it's still no place for a stable job in aviation. My husband will probably have his long-haul command here in 2 years, so we'll stay put for now.

Oh, and last but by no means least, my career is blooming! Being out here has given it a new lease of life, for which I'm eternally grateful.

I'd better get back to it! Best wishes to all of you.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Facebook's "hide" option

Continuing on the Facebook theme, I've been reflecting on the brilliance of the "hide" option.

Deciding on Facebook "friends" is tricky. If you don't accept someone's request, you're sending out a clear signal to them that you don't like them. But if you do accept someone's request, you're allowing them into your life (well, the online part of it) and you're also committing to seeing their updates and photos on a regular basis. 

As I wrote in my last post, "unfriending" someone (and even worse, blocking them) is a very dramatic and actually quite a nasty thing to do. It's also pretty risky when you still see that person on a regular basis, as is the case out here in the Middle East. We pilots' wives often meet at social events; it's very hard to write someone out of your life completely in such a small, tight-knit community.

Therein is the joy of "hide". There are several women out here who I don't see eye to eye with. If I had my choice, I wouldn't see them very much, and the last thing I want to do is see them online every day. But "unfriending" them would offend them, and I don't want to do that. Hoorah for hiding, because this means they have no idea I'm not following them, and we get to keep the status quo. (I do also have several friends on limited profile - I'm not sure they've ever noticed.) 

Recently, a couple we'd just got to know announced that they were moving to another Gulf airline. We were pleased for them, as they were unhappy here. Unfortunately, said couple are complainers, and public ones at that. Lots of public bashing of our adopted home ensued, bitching about the company, etc. It made for depressing (and annoying reading.) And yesterday, Facebook was full of the wife's joy at new villa (6 beds with a swimming pool apparently) which is SO much nicer than she would have had here, given the PALTRY housing allowance here (£2000 a month!) , people, company, country much better, yadda yadda yadda.

So guess what? HIDE. 

Brilliant.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Unfriendly Facebook

Today, someone I used to be friends with blocked me on Facebook.

I found out because when I looked at a nasty comment she'd left on a status update of mine, I could no longer view her page. When I tried searching for her, she was no longer there. So there it was: I had become a victim of the new definition of bullying and small-mindedness for the internet age.

When someone blocks you on Facebook, you become invisible on Facebook to them, and them to you. You can't search for them, see their page or send them messages. Luckily, they can't see the person they've blocked either, unless they decide to lift the block. Annoyingly, it's impossible to block someone back once they've done it to you. They can, in theory, keep lifting the block and peek and you, then block you again. So far, so annoying.

The irony of the whole thing is that I really wanted to unfriend said nasty woman, but didn't want to do it for fear of upsetting her. I was trying to keep the peace. I'd gone for the more sensible option of "hiding" her on Facebook so I no longer had to put up with her posts in my timeline. She's obviously not clever enough to have worked out you can do this.

Let me tell you about this woman. She arrived in the sandpit from the UK about 2 years ago. She left 9 months later, unable to settle. She's left her husband here working, and only comes out during school holidays to visit (except Christmas, because she will only have Christmas in the UK. Of course.) Her pilot husband can't find a job in the UK and is pretty miserable and knackered, commuting home for maybe 3 days at a time once a month.

She used to be our neighbour in company accommodation. Her husband came out first, and we were always there for him, inviting him to dinner, offering him our PC for Skype with the family before he had an internet connection, etc. When she came out, she was extremely friendly, suggesting she and I have dinner some nights, share babysitting, etc. She was even very helpful when I had post-natal depression. All good, you'd think.

Then, it began to go wrong. We decided to move out as I was so unhappy. She told me I was isolating myself. I disagreed. When we'd moved in, her family trooped round to ours and she and her husband inspected it at high speed, loudly declaring flaws like "why didn't they fit a better kitchen?" and "I bet it costs a fortune to cool, I hear it's zillions of pounds a year..." (like hell.)

When I was younger and girls at school were saying nasty things, my Mum used to say that they were jealous of me. I knew this was a line she was spinning me at the time - but I do wonder if that's the factor at play here.

Since moving out, I've been far happier, have a new circle of friends and clearly love my home. My career has also gone from strength to strength. I never talk about my job on here, but suffice to say, it's got glamorous connotations and what I do gets noticed. I think this gets up her nose. Moreover, I've chosen to stay in this country, and I'm making it work. Our family is together.

My theory, therefore, is that she's blocked me on Facebook because she can't bear to see that I'm happy with a situation she rejected rashly last year. And in doing so, reduced herself to the level of the playground.

Still wish I'd unfriended her weeks ago, though...  Who needs enemies when you have Facebook "friends" like these?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A career of one's own

Radio 4's Woman's Hour recently asked its listeners to tell them whether they felt their career defined them. The implicit question was -  is motherhood enough, or do you need a career to make you feel happy?

I was reflecting recently how stressed I used to be in my job in London. My commute was horrendous, my colleagues occasionally bullying or bitchy, my shifts anti-social. I wasn't conceiving. When we moved out to the Gulf, I looked at it as a blessing in disguise. I realised that not working gave my body a break from the rat race, and would probably make fertility treatment more successful; and so it proved to be. I was pregnant within five months of arriving in my new home.

What I hadn't prepared myself for was the shock of losing my career. I felt like I'd lost my identity. I realised I'd worked for so many years to reach the position I had (in a career that many people aspire to) that I coudn't just let it go.

I don't talk about my career on here as I want to keep that side of life separate from this blog, but let's say, for argument's sake, that I'm a doctor. I've trained for many years to get this far, and obviously people are interested in what I do. When we go out, people are equally as interested in my career as they are in my husband's. When I go somewhere for work, I'm treated as a professional, someone who's worked hard to get where they are.

Once I became a Mum and remained unemployed, all conversation turned to our baby. Social gatherings always involved talking about sleeping patterns and my difficulties breast feeding. No-one ever asked what "I did" anymore, although they continued to ask my husband about his flying career.

Not only this, but my self-esteem began to plummet. I hadn't realised just how much of  buzz I got from my job, from working hard and seeing a concrete result at the end of it. Not to mention the self-worth you feel when you're making at least some of the money you're spending. Motherhood had no deadlines, just long, long, bleary eyed shifts. I told my husband more than once that I envied his work. He looked at me like I was mad, as he was wishing (logically enough) that he could spend more time at home with our little boy. Meanwhile I craved a few hours away from home, dressed to impress, doing the job I loved and getting paid for it. I was as surprised to feel that way as many of you will be reading this.

I also noticed a subtle shift in the way my husband behaved towards me. Call me paranoid, but I felt that he looked at me differently now I wasn't working and achieving in the workplace. I felt, to be honest, that he wasn't as proud of me as he had been. That's probably the post-natal depression that was talking, but it certainly added to the desperation I felt to get back to work.

Fast forward nearly two years, and our son is at nursery three days a week. I have miraculously managed to find a part-time job which means I can balance time with my family with the work I love to do. There are still challenges (the battle to fit decent family time into my husband's roster is never ending) but I'm overjoyed to have my career back.

I love being a mother, but I refuse to give up my career as a result. No-one ever asks men to do that, do they? No-one ever asks a Dad why he's going back to work so soon, or why he's letting someone else look after his child when he could resign and stay at home and look after his child. Well, do they?

Big fat nope.

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