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My three favourite things are my son, my husband and my dogs. I also love my extended family, but I really love my dogs!

I moved to Canberra about 9 years ago. I met my husband through the graduate program we were both doing with the Australian Public Service and have been here ever since. I thought I would last twelve months, but more than nine years later we are looking for our second house in Canberra. We love it.

We don’t have much family in Canberra but we think Canberra it is a lovely place to live, with lovely people and great career opportunities. I don’t think I would have the career I do if I wasn’t in Canberra. There are good opportunities even if you are young—I was around 22 years old when I arrived.

I think because Canberra is a bit smaller it is easier to get to know people and it has more of a community feel than Melbourne. If I had stayed in Melbourne I would have probably just stayed in the same friendship group from school, whereas people in Canberra seem to be a bit more connected. A lot of people in Canberra aren’t from Canberra, so you are kind of forced to get out there.

Canberra is hard to be in in winter though—I have been sick about ten times this winter and I am not exercising as much as I used to. The only time I have is at night and sometimes I don’t feel like going to the gym at night—I’d rather have a glass of wine and eat some delicious food! It is also harder to go for walks when it is so cold because you don’t want the little one to get sick.

That being said, Canberra is lovely and sunny and it doesn’t get too dreary. There is plenty of outdoor stuff to do when it gets a bit warmer—where we live there are gorgeous walking tracks. Actually, my perfect day in Canberra would be a lovely sunny day, no clouds in the sky, which isn’t that uncommon in Canberra, and going out for brunch with my son and husband and having a chat—we love doing that.

Being a women means that you get opportunities that men do not get, like motherhood and close bonds with other women. I don’t think men have the same bonds with other men.

I have also found this year, particularly around returning to work, that as much as we say that we have come so far as women there is still definitely discrimination and we are still very limited. I just don’t believe that women can have it all. Which is really sad, and I wouldn’t have said that before I had a child. I think there is discrimination from men, but for me it is discrimination from other women who have been in the same situation as me maybe 20 years ago and have forgotten what it is like. There is a bit of: “I didn’t get paid parental leave when I was having children” or “I had to go through that when I was coming back to work”.

One of the hardest things about being a woman in Canberra is going on maternity leave and then returning to work filled with guilt about returning to work. My son started childcare last week and it is much harder than I thought it was going to be. A lot of other mums have said to me that it gets easier and that he will end up loving it; maybe that guilt will go away, and maybe it won’t.

At this moment in time I would describe myself as a mum on leave about to return to work. I’m in a transition stage, thinking about returning to work and feeling sad about not spending every moment of my time with my son. Sometimes I feel guilty, but also excited to have another part of my life back.

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Image created by Liz Thompson