Holiday thoughts

We took a holiday.

It was wonderful.

We (mostly) had great Autumn weather. Cool crisp mornings, followed by sunny days. My very favourite kind of weather.

Campground Papa and The Campground Kid and Lake Taupo

We saw lovely people in lovely places.

In our ten days, we stayed in five wonderful spots. We spent time with all of The Campground Kid’s grandparents, plus two of her second cousins, two of her first cousins once removed, and one of her second cousins once removed.

Our family and our favourite country were the killer combination that brought us home, and this holiday was all about them.

Family time on the Napier Waterfront

It was lovely.

But it was also hard.

It was hard to say goodbye again to people and places after such short visits. The goodbyes and the things we missed out on made it hard to keep the doubts from creeping in. Would we be happier somewhere different? Could we be doing something different? Should we be different?

It was logistically difficult too. Lots of driving, different food, different beds, different routines. They’re hard on us, and they’re even harder on The Campground Kid.

She coped remarkably. And seeing her outside her routine highlighted just how much she has grown and changed since we arrived in New Zealand seven months ago.  I’m pretty sure I’m biased, but I’m also pretty sure that she’s an amazing kid.

Windy walks on the Wellington Waterfront

It was a special time.

But it’s also quite a relief to be back.  Back home, back to work, back to our routines.

This morning, our first day back, we were a bit tired (thanks to a wild bedtime last night and a cold for Campground Papa), but we were actually happy to get back to work. And The Campground Kid was very happy to get back to her daycare.

We were even happier when work was quiet enough that we could have plenty of coffee breaks and fit in some unpacking and some laundry.

And, despite the doubts, I can’t help but think that a life we’re happy to be back to is a pretty good life.

Let’s see how far we’ve come!

We have a new receptionist starting in our team, and her first days were this weekend. It was a big weekend, and we had no other reception staff. Plus we had a Campground Kid underfoot (she started daycare this week, and after two days we’d already become accustomed to working WITHOUT a toddler). Plus one of our cleaners had to head to the hospital with her son this morning (thankfully he’s fine!) Plus we had a big bus group arrive earlier than expected and a bed cover that was pissed on and a whole lot of people checking out late.

All of which adds up to: chaos.

There were moments where I wasn’t at my very best, I’ll admit. But the biggest thing I took from the madness was a recognition of just how far we’ve come in the last 6 months.

And I’m not talking about physically (although this weekend also brought a reminder of that, in the form of this little video of our town in Brunei):

I’m talking about how much we’ve all learned and changed. 

It’s perhaps most obvious in the Campground Kid, who is now a confident and chatty two years and eight months, able to hold full on conversations and tell amazing stories. She’s got a magnificent imagination and has learned million little things about the park. The other day while we were having a swim she told me “I’ve just put a little leaf into the skimmer” (the skimmer being what most people would probably call “the filter-y thingy”, myself included.)  She is also a lot taller than when we arrived, which we know because she can climb onto all sorts of new places. 

Breakfast in the office.

In me and Campground Papa, the change is perhaps more subtle, but it’s definitely there. We have learnt new skills (he can maintain a pool, I can navigate our park management system like a pro, we can both fold a fitted sheet with our eyes closed); but we’ve also grown and developed as people. We’re both more confident, especially with making phone calls (although to be fair to Campground Papa, it was mostly me who hated phone calls before). We’ve learned to be more clear and vocal about our needs and how others could help us meet them. We’re better at prioritising and planning ahead. We’re more confident to just dive in and fix problems on the spot, even if they’re not problems we know how to fix. 

We’ve had so much change and craziness over the last few months that I hadn’t really stopped to consider these things, but seeing someone new trying to figure it all out is a great reminder of those first clueless days of nearly 6 months ago. And the fact that I am now entirely confident to recruit and train that someone new is a great reminder that I am learning and developing as a manager.

Even though I’ve come a long way, today was still pretty fucking hard. So now I’m going to put my feet up, and maybe have a glass of wine.

Cheers!

Expectations

“I’m just really disappointed that no one did anything about the noise next door to us last night. We have a young family, and this was not what we expected.” said the tired, annoyed guest.

“I get it. We have a young family too. But we just didn’t hear it here, so we didn’t know. I’m really sorry.”

It was one of my first real customer complaints, and it was from Fred*. Fred who used to be my manager when I was just starting out in the world of Human Resources. Fred who thought quite highly of me  but nowhere near as highly as he thought of himself and had expectations for me. Fred who was my manager before I changed jobs, studied for a new profession, changed jobs again, moved to Brunei, became a parent, moved back to New Zealand and changed jobs again. Basically, he was my manager a whole lifetime ago.

If he recognised me, he didn’t say anything (I guess a different hairstyle and 20+ kg will do that). But I recognised him. And seeing him reminded me of all that career history and just how much has changed. I don’t just look different, I AM different, in so very many ways. The last six years have been great and hard and eventful and transformative.  When I worked with Fred, and when I saw him last, I was young and up and coming and had my life ahead of me. I was destined for big things. A family and a flexible job and managing a team are not small things, but they’re definitely not the things I imagined as a 26 year old starting a new career.

As much as I am happy with the choices I’ve made, and happy with where we’ve ended up, being reminded of the change was a very vulnerable feeling. And being reminded of the change while simultaneously being told I wasn’t doing my job very well was a very very vulnerable feeling.

I think I managed to hide my embarrassment and get on with helping other guests. But by afternoon, it was still nagging away in the back of my mind. Complaints always bother me, and it bothered me more that it was from someone I know (or knew). Then I remembered a situation where Fred had made some rather large mistakes.  It wasn’t necessarily relevant to this situation, but it made me feel a little better.

And THEN I spotted a line on our park information sheet: “If you have a problem with noise, tell the management immediately. Tomorrow is too late.”

YEP. Tomorrow IS too late.

And this made me realise that this whole thing was about expectations, realistic and otherwise. It wasn’t reasonable for him to be angry at me for not solving a problem I wasn’t aware of. But it was definitely reasonable for him to be annoyed.  It wasn’t reasonable of me to expect myself to get it all right every day and get no complaints, especially not seven weeks into an entirely new job and an entirely new life.  It definitely isn’t reasonable to expect all expectations (mine and others’) to be reasonable.

But most of all I realised how almost every time I fall into shame, it’s rooted in expectations; either my expectations or the expectations of others (or at least what I THINK they are). As soon as I start comparing reality to expectations (reasonable or unreasonable, real or imagined) my mind starts to spiral.

I am really happy to be here, to be doing this. It’s still early days, but it feels like a good fit for me and for us. But even though it’s a good fit at 31, it’s a far cry from the expectations anyone had for me at 18, at 21, at 26. Heck, it doesn’t really meet the expectations anyone had for me at 29 or 30.

Going against expectations isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I am mostly inclined to think it’s mostly a great thing. For others. But for ME, my mind usually translates it into a bad thing. After all, I’m a “good girl”. I meet expectations. If I’m not meeting expectations, there must be something “wrong”.  If my kid isn’t meeting expectations, I must be doing something “wrong”. If my life isn’t meeting expectations, I must be doing something “wrong”. (and so on and so forth)

Do you know who is really really good at ignoring expectations? Toddlers. I could learn a lot from her.

Do you know who is really really good at ignoring expectations? Toddlers. I could learn a lot from her.

I KNOW this is a load of tosh. I KNOW it’s just a bit of crazy-making perfectionism rearing its ugly head. But KNOWing doesn’t always make it easier. So with all of that in mind, I have a resolution for this new stage of life:

Cut the comparing and throw those expectations out the window.

I’m going to have to start with baby steps. My first inch forward is writing about it, both here and in my long-abandoned journal.

But most importantly, I’m going to start now. Today. After all, tomorrow is too late.

 

* Name changed to protect him or me, or maybe both.