I stepped back behind the coffee machine yesterday, and into my first paid employment since having Elka.

Before we had Elka, both Gregor and I agreed that we wanted at least one of us to be home with Elka for the first few years. Fortunately for us, a lot of the time both of us have been at home most of the week, because Gregor’s work as a massage therapist has paid well, and he has only needed to work a few days. The rest, we made up with government assistance. However, in the economic crisis, Greg’s work has become less predictable.

We have teetered near the brink of extinction, but apart from the occasional indulgence in a large bucket of blueberries and a daily coffee & teeni-cino at a café, as a little family, we are good at being economical and resourceful. I generally make presents for people instead of buying them, we cook all our food from scratch and never eat out. We buy from the market and the whole food shop which does make a big difference. I don’t clothes shop, unless you count Vinnie’s, and we rely heavily on the generosity of family…Sometimes, poring through a Country Style magazine I wish we had a bit of money to spend. But most of the time, we value the time we have together more than material things.

Recently, Greg began work in disability care, which has sustained us, but has meant Greg usually works seven days a week. Exhausted, and still stressed about paying the mortgage, we knew things would have to change. I promised to look for some work, and knew that between us, we could do it. The majority of families in Australia do have two incomes; it is a wonder we have gone so well for so long.

So…the glory days are over. I have a job. The first place I approached has taken me in as a barista for Saturday mornings. I haven’t made coffee for years, and after working as a manager at the art gallery in Melbourne, I didn’t think I would go back to it. But fortunately, coffee-making is flexible, local and available. So in other words, it’s perfect for me.

OK, I guess working three hours a week doesn’t really classify me as a working mum. But it was fantastic submerging myself in the little world of a café once again. It feels like the epicentre behind the coffee machine – you see all the characters come and go, you hear the conversations between staff and pick up on organisational politics. Hopefully I will get more work, so Greg can work a bit less. But for the moment, I am going to concentrate on lovely, silky milk.

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