Strangely having a baby has not brought more chaos into our lives but peace and stability. Sure he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. after three week of sleeping through to 5:00 a.m. Kid is on a growth spurt. But now we are home for dinner and I schedule time to be at home to spend with our gurgling bundle. My husband and I don’t pass each other as ships in the day, pausing to gnaw a heel of bread for dinner anymore. There are two people, our baby and the nanny, who anchor us now to home. But there are still only so many hours in a day; now I add exercise, playtime, and nursing to the list of things that measure the success of a given 24 hour period. And when I find myself working out with the video on mute at 12:00 a.m. because this the only time available, I know something has changed in me. Only two months old, I don’t want him to already be a latchkey kid — a term used in the US for kids who let themselves into their homes after school without any adults around). Some days I feel a twinge of horror but more sympathy for Madonna whose children apparently need an appointment to see their mother — scheduled in 15 minute increments.
Okay, okay, so a long way to say I haven’t been blogging as much. But it’s not because I haven’t been thinking about things. It’s been a long time, almost a month the blog reminds me, since I’ve sat down to post. It’s not that I haven’t been pondering. I have. Sometimes I feel that in my new state as a mother of a young one, I ponder all the time. Like the Bible records Mary’s reaction to being visiting the angel Gabriel — I just haven’t been recording them or sharing them with others.
The restriction of time has been a blessing in disguise. When you have a majorly draining project, like trying to squeeze out 40,000 words in a specific period of time, say a week, you suddenly don’t care about that friend who didn’t call you back. You’re grateful that the notorious canceler has yet again – you guessed it – canceled. Or the neighbor who you thought you were close to, hasn’t invited you over again. You luxuriate in your own sofa. Reducing the amount of available time has caused me to focus inward on me and mine. Which hasn’t always been the case.
When I was a child and then rambunctious teenager, my father used to ask me why I spent to so much time with my friends.
“Emotional support,” I blurted, partly in reaction to the austere environment of my family.
Now decades later, I realize what he was doing (as he said I would at the time). He was calling attention to where I spent my best energies and asking me why I didn’t reserve more for myself. There was no discernible boundary between myself and others around me when a teenager and this didn’t change as I got to university or even graduate school. An attitude like this may sound really positive and sweet. In reality it was a dangerous way to live life. To be so giving that you could be taken advantage of or, sometimes worse, disappointed by others.
Time, talent, treasure: these are the three resources everyone has at their disposal in varying amounts. For me I’ve got a generosity problem. I can say no, but I rarely want to. I love to give even the smallest of gifts; there’s a cupboard in our house for this specific purpose. At the last minute while going out the door to a birthday party, house warming, or visiting someone in the hospital, I can have something to hand to share love.
Such open love has mostly served me well: friends near and far to surprise, spoil, delight. There are times when this kind of fun loving, freewheeling sharing isn’t reciprocated and that can lead to resentment which then is a downward spiral of recrimination. Just after college this was true: an entire circle of friends I spent four intense years with evaporated. Because I had invested so much in them, emotionally as well as otherwise, it took me a long time to let them and the memories go.
Now I have to choose how to spend nearly every minute of my day. And I have in the back of my mind those people who are depending on me — foremost someone who can’t yet speak for himself. I order the day by deliberate choice because there are consequences if I don’t. People in the office are startled when I say I’m leaving in ten minutes and actually do. Gone are the days of ten minutes turning into an hour where I am still at my desk. I’m not a doctor. I don’t save lives. I may make some a bit better by what I do during my day job; but if I didn’t get to it today, I will tomorrow.
I’m grateful for this phase of my life because I find the lesson coming back again. Letting go of the drainers makes room for more. And this time that more is apologetically for myself, my baby, my family. They get the first fruits of energy, creativity, and time.
It’s a major shift for me, seismic enough to be almost a reversal of how I used to order my universe.
Apparently the next step in growing up .
Have you had any such shifts recently or otherwise?
These epiphanic moments should not be ignored. Rather take them in, contemplate, ponder. And when you are ready, share them.