Almost walking, almost talking, almost sleeping through the night.
She’s all lashes and a toothy smile. She’s all over the place, in everything, pulling all the clothes from drawers and grabbing all her sister’s toys. She’s obsessed with trying to color, or as my husband says, perhaps write.
Her eyes are finally brown, for so long they were also blue and grey. I worried we wouldn’t know what to put on her driver’s license. Now they’re simple, like mine. Sometimes I look at her and see my mom, my grandma, myself. She reminds me of me, in more ways than one. A little shy, a little bold, very sweet.
My feelings for her have been extra intense lately. I worry if something were to happen to me, she’d never know how much I loved her. It’s a familiar aching. It’s exactly the same way I felt with her sister and somehow this is comforting, knowing it’s just part of motherhood. So I write these words to remember.
The first few months of E’s life were quiet and slow. We nursed and napped and often that seemed like it. Time moved like taffy, languid and sweet. People often asked if I watched television. The answer was no. My life was an ongoing meditation. Somehow the stillness was enough.
With each month, the momentum picked up a little here, a little there. Sometimes the stillness was too much. I contemplated returning to work as a teacher, but I could not do it, I was not ready. Being a stay-at-home mom was more than enough.
And, it still is, but my use of time is changing. Forget the labels, SAHM vs WAHM, it is similar enough. Suddenly I am free again, the magic of early bedtimes and well-managed naps. For 2015, I have a schedule. Different chores for different days, focused time use for each block E wakes and sleeps, with spreadsheets to go with it because that is how my brain works.
Writing remains my passion, but I also have a different need, a need to get out, meet people, and contribute more immediately to our household income. It is in my bones. I am doing it for me. Like so many in our culture, I don’t know how not to work for financial gain. For better, or for worse, it is hard to say.
This year, I am embarking on a new adventure and joining the family business after more than a decade avoiding it. I should have known, really, that one day real estate would officially call my name. My first real job post-college, after all, was real estate consulting. I grew up walking the floor plans of the homes my aunt built, the homes my whole family seemed to sell. When my husband took the plunge, I should have known I would be next.
For now, I am assisting my husband with business management, but maybe one day I will also get my license to sell on my own. I did not expect this decision to excite me so much, but it is pretty much the most flexible job I could have with no set number of hours. There is still time in my day to write and be present for my family. It is a win.
In order to make it happen, however, we have had to focus on our systems and routines at home. I am a to-do list queen, so imagine my excitement to discover Google Keep, a place to keep all of our to-do lists synched in one place accessible by both computer and phone. I have already completely geeked out and made a list for everything: shopping, separate home and work to-do lists for both me and my husband, social tasks I don’t want to forget to accomplish…
Years ago I read the Happiness Project and it changed my life. Not because it was particularly profound but because it emphasized setting goals and getting organized in the pursuit of living the life you want. That is how getting organized to accomplish my goals makes me feel.
Not the smug or obnoxious kind, but just the fulfilled, purposeful, want-to-share kind. As you get organized for the year ahead, I would love to hear your organizational secrets too.
After Eloise fell asleep last night, I started this post about surrendering to our children. Appropriately, she woke up again before I had time to write anything other than the following quotes about new parenthood:
“I no longer know where you begin and I end. Days and nights blend into a haze of brilliance and fatigue. I am elastic, rubber, and wax. I bend to your will with no resistance, no boundary, transparent like glass. Even when you aren’t with me, I am with you, imagining you. There is no moment in which I exist separate of you.”
“The transition to parenthood is complex, requiring us to surrender to an irrevocable loss of our identity as we have thus far known it. To create the internal space required to embrace the tending of a new spirit, the pillars of our old lifestyle have to crumble. Who we were before becoming a parent doesn’t and cannot exist with the same ferocity. Once children enter our life, their impact is indelible and we are required to reinvent ourselves in response.”
Maybe it is better this way, just to leave some words to digest. I feel myself both surrendering and reinventing on a daily basis. I always worried about losing myself in the process of becoming a parent. Instead, I feel I have found myself, but I have to be patient for those moments that are my own. Admittedly, I fight this loss of control. Leaving unfinished tasks drives me crazy, but the feeling of surrender is also beautiful.
It is a hard lesson to learn, especially after night upon night of hours spent lying in bed just to keep her asleep. Thank goodness for the glowing words of Dr. Shefali Tsabary on my Kindle. If you haven’t read The Conscious Parent, I highly recommend it.
If you are a parent, what kind of reinvention have you undergone? Have you surrendered? If so, what are your secrets?
If you aren’t a parent, what other parts of your life have forced you to surrender and reinvent?