Today’s the last day of two weeks’ worth of school term break here in Australia. All my bears are in bed now. Finally, I have a bit of me-time, some quiet time, before another round of organised chaos begins tomorrow.
When the first term of the school year concluded just before Easter holidays, we couldn’t believe we’d survived it. The journey of firsts was epic:
Miss4yo started kindergarten. She got sick first week of kindergarten.
Miss8yo, now Grade 3 / Year 3, is in an accelerated class.
And me, on the cargobike, shuttling two kids, with two different schedules in the local Kindergarten and Primary School.
Oh, and miss4’s multitude of appointments, with her different sessions from the Early Childhood Intervention Service providers, and medical appointments.
The bright spot in all the organised chaos, was my art therapy, my sanity. Every Wednesday, I attended @FootscrayArts Life Drawing classes.
I’ve never done this before, and I shakily started drawing. And when I got home, I would often find myself in tears.
Because I could never have imagined I would be drawing like this. Ever. Not at age forty-one. Not when all I’ve dreamed of since after finishing high school was a degree in Fine Arts (i was relegated to a business course at a prestigious catholic university instead)
But oh, the relief, the swelling of emotion, the joy, to get lost in the art, like time stood still for me.
Art was my sanity…
…from a terrible federal government that reduced benefits and funding for families, children with disabilities, and carers.
We were told there wasn’t enough money / benefits / funding to go around.
Miss4yo, who despite being accepted in a normal / regular kindergarten, was granted only half of her kindergarten hours for a teacher’s aide.
Miss8yo’s primary school had their funding reduced (is it true that government schools only gets $100 per child?) and the Educational Maintenance Allowance was removed.
My respite hours were reduced. According to care service provider Mecwacare, the local council, City of Brimbank couldn’t any fund my extra hour of travel time to-and-from art school. I emailed both council and service provider, appealing to maintain my meager four hours of respite, and the email replies I received left me in utter disbelief and despair: Brimbank denied they were paying the funding, mecwacare insisted otherwise, and they can’t do anything about it.
The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, was food budgeting. With the new Centrelink mobile app, we are now stringently required to report to them fortnightly, our family and carer benefits were reduced drastically, and the battle to stretch hubby’s once-a-month paycheck has – to put it mildly – gone critical.
The last few days before the fifteenth of every month seem to stretch on forever.
And as the millennials would say…
I can’t even.
During the dark days when I feel I can’t even breathe, even after taking my SSRI meds for my mental health,
I turn to my inner fangirl, for that moment of escape, to push away the despair, madness and tears,
My wonderful social worker Kate O, through her amazing resourcefulness, found a generous organisation to fund both my art class and my extra hour of respite. Thank you so much, for the much needed respite and relief, for that lifeline. I am eagerly looking forward to Life Drawing Term 2.