April 16, 2012

A Time for Growth

Time has a way of flying even faster than normal when you get older, and as I've found, especially when I had a baby. What I once noted by benchmarks such graduations, new jobs, weddings, etc. is now measured at a much more accelerated rate. Weeks counted during pregnancy, and then inches and pounds of growth in the first year, all her new behaviors and new words become my new daily reminders of the passage of time. Her growth has almost entirely absorbed my mental attention, except that I also have a partner and work—two aspects of my life that were everything to me before I had a child. Making space for everything has become the new challenge, quality time for my partner, for myself, for everything else that I love to do besides raising my daughter.

The other night I mentioned to a friend and to my husband that one thing I really miss from our single days in California was going out to clubs to go dancing. "There's a time for everything," he replied, which I interpreted as he'd given up on the idea of ever doing that again, in contrast to me, who still holds the hope that we'll carve out that time for ourselves again even if it's not as often as before. But I held off on applying that pressure to an already overworked Dad. "Well, not like there's any great clubs for us to go here anyways," I joked.

Last November, when my daughter was barely over a year old, I had a medical emergency that, for economic reasons, led me to take on some part-time work in addition to writing Amor and Exile. Since then, my daughter is now a year and a half old and I haven't written a single new chapter in the book. It was a difficult task, holding off on writing for what felt like such a long period of time. Nonetheless, I have no regrets about my decision to make us a two income family. Working outside the home forced me to streamline my schedule and reorganize priorities. In addition to swimming twice a week, it gave me some sorely needed time to myself.

On the other hand, I found myself longing a little too much to "get back" to the projects I'd begun to establish since before she was born: finish Amor and Exile, and make progress on environmental projects such as our organic garden and local environmental education efforts. But I still wasn't ready for it to be one or the other—so I dropped down to three days a week, albeit longer hours two of those days, in order to see if I could fit a little more of everything into my life.

It seemed ambitious at first—but after two weeks of spring break where, instead of taking vacation, I worked hard on my next chapter and the garden while also continuing to teach English, I saw that I could indeed make advances in one area of my life without entirely foregoing another. It felt blissful to get back to writing, and the mantra "do what makes you happy" never felt so right, affirming what I suspected this past year, that writing has really gotten under my skin.

Now I'm nearing completion of my third chapter in our book, and we'll be back into collaborative editing in May. As if the silent hand of fate was at work as I simultaneously requested new growth in my life, in this first week of my new schedule, I've already got two appointments scheduled to explore some new environmental education opportunities in the community. At first I just felt really lucky, but I also know that they wouldn't have materialized if I hadn't come up with them as an idea in the first place. Making them happen will also come at a sacrifice—less time to work out, socialize, etc. But if the past is any indication of how good I'll feel knowing that I've actualized something I've set my mind to, I should be okay.

And when my little girl, who was not too long ago a little baby, turns 19 months this week, I'll be reminded that yes, it's often difficult to make the best decisions: it pains me when she cries when I slip away into my home office, but she also sweetly offers her babysitter a kiss goodbye and hugs me even tighter when we're back together. When I see her doing things, at such a young age, like diapering her dolls, reading with her feet, feeding the animals, hanging laundry or watering plants, pretending to talk on the phone, being kind to others, or just simply smiling or wanting to be with us, I also remember that, she pursues the things she most loves in life because she sees her mom doing the same. 

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