Friday, September 16, 2016

So, What are You Going to do With Your Time?

Once upon a time my time, body, and life was mine.  I spent it doing pretty much what I wanted.

Then one fine day, I got pregnant. Whoop! Whoop!

I had never felt there was a distinction between me and my body, it was all one big, dorky thing. Then when I was sharing my body with a baby it didn't feel like it was mine anymore. I couldn't eat all willy nilly, I needed to consider her nutritional needs for development, and certainly coffee, beer, lunch meat, and soft cheeses were out too. I also felt her tapping into my energy. My body had become an apartment, my baby daughter and I were roomies on a ten-month lease.

Then came that glorious day—she was born. She was perfect and healthy, yes!—it was so worth it! And bonus, my body is mine again.


She would need milk for the next year and a half. Once weaned, my life still didn't belong to me. She would need something from me every moment of every day and night, until???

Then, when my first was starting pre-school, my second baby was born and the process was repeated with more sweetness and less angst.

It was difficult, but wonderful difficult.

I learned what it was to harbor infinite love. I learned patience, compassion, and how to put myself last, and be content. I learned how to be a teacher, leader, and listener. I landed flat on my face—a lot. I lost myself for a while. Charley and I redefined our relationship and became more solid when it would have been easier to turn away from each other. Eventually, I learned to reclaim time to develop my talents and explore new interests. I developed some wonderful new friendships. Somewhere in all of that I grew-up and became a better person. My favorite thing I learned over this last decade, is to treasure each phase of my kids’ growth, while I was in it. What once felt suffocating, became my purpose, my life’s breath—I love being with them.

As my oldest girl's third-grade year came to a close, I was excited for the adventures of summer vacation, but already felt apprehension towards the coming autumn that would sweep them both off to full day school. And just like that, it was here.


My days were filled up with noise, mess, hugs, and clear purpose. No more bed-heads pattering around in Hello Kitty jammies, crawling up into my lap for a morning snuggle. Who will turn the monotony of grocery shopping into an engaging learning experience?

Wait, what? You like taking your kids shopping?

Once we dialed in our routine, yep, absolutely, it was far more fun having my girls there than not.

So, what are you going to do with your time, now?

This is the million dollar question. My deflective answer is, “Lie on the sofa, smoking a cigarette (I don't smoke), eating Bon Bons, and watching my stories.” Peg Bundy is becoming something of an icon to me.

Haha, funny.

So, what are you going to do with your time?

I'm working up to that.

Short answer, writing.

Long answer, writing and other stuff.

So, what are you going to do with your time?

First, I'm going to attempt to let go of the paradigm (sorry for using that wanker of a word) that productivity = value. My intrinsic value as a human is still intact even if I don't “do it all.” I see so many SAHPs work themselves to their breaking point, looking fabulous while doing it!, to debunk the Peg Bundy perception. We are so concerned with, “what everybody thinks.” And we want a long list of checked off To Do List items to prove... prove what?

The truth is, everybody is thinking, just not about me. They're thinking about their own lives. It's genuine curiosity about our lives that prompts the, "So, what are you going to do with your time?" question. The asking person is probably hoping that the answer is something wonderful and fulfilling, that will bring joy to you and your family. They know that the SAHP gig is a tough job. I've never been subjected to derision when I’ve told people of my choice to leave my career and stay home and raise my kids—sometimes I even get admiration. “Oh, I could never do that, I need my time at my job for my sanity.” A response that any parent will fully comprehend. There is no easy-way when it comes to being a modern parent. No matter your choices, it's hard, always, with moments of amazing and wonderful.

So, what are you going to do with your time?

Next, I'm going to partition my time. Some for getting stuff done, we do need clean laundry and food. I'd also like to de-clutter and perhaps deep clean now and again, but only with the time allocated for such activities. Otherwise, the housekeeping time sponge will soak up the next ten years of my life.

Then I'd like to blog at least once a week to keep the creativity flowing.

The rest goes like this:
  • Some time for helping out at my girls' school.
  • Some time for setting myself up as a legitimate freelance writer and exploring those opportunities.
  • Some time for finishing writing projects that have been languishing in limbo and to seek publication for them.
  • Some time for longer projects, my book, maybe?
  • Lastly some time for walks with the puppy, a friend date occasionally to keep me from fully retreating into my turtle shell, and taking care of random errands.
Then after checking and rechecking my watch, I'll take a short walk to the neighboring cul-de-sac and a growling diesel engine will announce my time in isolation has ended.  And my two little loves will be subjected to all the hugs I could not give them while they were away at school.

I've given myself a year, if I can make effective use of the gift of this time, contribute to the family income, and be available for my family when they need me, then maybe longer. If not, I'll consider reentering the professional world.

So, what are you going to do with your time?

Lie on the sofa eating Bon Bons, smoking cigarettes, and watching my stories.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sisterly Love is the Best Medicine

Berzo woke up this morning with a moan. She rolled and stretched a bit and gave a little why-is-this-happening-to-me sob. I felt her head, still hot; her hands, on fire.


“Will I be just fine, Mama?”

“Of course, you just have a little fever. Let me go get you some water.”

I get up to get her some water.

“Is it nice and cold, Mama?” She sighs with relief as she drinks.

I set her water cup aside and tell her I’ll go get some medicine. I leave the room and Boots is up and cheery and LOUD, as usual. I whisper that Berzo is still not feeling well. Boots looks sad.

I bring Berzo her water and medicine and try to coax her into an upright sitting position. She is snuggled into a big C shape and her face twists in pain as she tries to get up. She flops back down and holds out her empty dosage cup. I ask if she wants me to take her out and put her in the big comfy chair to watch TV, she says she just wants to lay in bed longer.

Boots asks if maybe Berzo would like some applesauce, “Because when I'm sick, and nothing sounds good, but I'm hungry, I want applesauce.”

“You can ask her, but I’m not sure if she'll want it.”

Boots skips off to Berzo's room. Soon I hear the familiar voices of Gerald and Piggy floating down the hallway. I go in to bring Berzo her morning warm cocoa milk and both girls are fixated on a book. Berzo declines her cocoa because, “I'm having an applesauce pouch right now.” I tell her it'll be waiting for her whenever she’s ready.

I return to the kitchen to start my coffee and listen to their voices—happy voices—float down the hallway. Berzo is still burning a 101-degree fever, but she's sparkly, reflecting the light from her sister's love.