This morning I spontaneously took the day off work to take care of my health. It needed to be done. Although I would not say that I am stressed out, the daily stressors of life creep up silently and some days just need to be quiet and full of self-care. This morning this first began with having some time with Kai before he headed off to school, making the beginnings of a winter wardrobe for his Owl (stuffie). We cut a piece of dashing fabric to make a scarf and then Kai decided Owl needed a Santa hat. This was followed by a chiropractic appointment for both of us while Marc dropped Nico of at daycare. Apparently this is what to doctor should have ordered for both of us. Kai had an adult sized adjustment and before mine one of my legs was almost one inch longer than the other. Say what?!? What does that even mean? Thanks to the brilliant Dr. Janelle I walked away with balance. The scary thing is that even though I knew my lower back was tight, I had no idea how badly it had affected the rest of my body. And believe me, after years of chiropractic care, I should know better. Famous last words.
After making a quick trip to a cafe for a morning tea for me and cinnamon bun for my sweet boy, I dropped him off at school and my mind began to churn: now that my body was more in alignment, perhaps it was time to look at the rest of my life. Now this is not a dramatic thing as it is for some but rather part of who I am. A blessing and a curse, self-reflection needs to have a huge allotment of time in my life. Working full time, parenting two young boys and finding space for generally addressing daily needs, never mind self-care and socializing, doesn't leave much room for self-reflection, I am constantly trying to find balance.
In the midst of our wonderful morning Kai asked me if I could pick him up early today. I responded with, "Sorry, buddy, I am going to the gym today." When he finally understood why he couldn't come with me, he replied, "Can't you go to the gym when Daddy is home?" Oh, my little buddy your Daddy suggested that same idea months ago. Perhaps it is time to listen. Oddly enough, in my mind rushing to the gym right after work was a sacrifice I was willing to make so we could all be home together in the evening. Apparently this rushing business and late arrival home doesn't really work for anyone. Sadly it took me months to realize this, but we all do things in our own time, don't we? What I know about myself is that I need some 'trying things out' and then some space to really process if it is what I/we really want before I am able to hear what other people are saying to me. Again, the need for personal reflection can sometimes be a blessing or a curse. It never means I don't hear what people are saying or respect others' opinions, but simply that I need to run it by my own little tribe of beliefs, values, desires and needs also. So yes, Kai, next time you ask I hope to be able to say, "I can't wait to pick you up early!", even though I know you will be running to your friend's house as soon as we walk through the door. Happy kids make a happy mom.
Work versus Home and Family
When I gave birth to both my boys, they had the foresight to be born at the end of summer. What that meant for me as a teacher was that I got two months of holiday before they were born and then a full year of maternity leave afterward. Yes, I know, I am spoiled. Thank you Canada and the Vancouver School Board. Upon returning to work we had a challenging time finding childcare, so I ended up staying home one day per week and working four days. It was a beautiful thing. I got to be around for Kai's first year of school on maternity leave then I was able to still check in and support him once a week in Grade One. All the kids at school know Nico and he is part of the community. I felt connected to the community too and have made some good 'mom friends' through school.
Now that both boys are settled into good care and I have a new teaching job, I am working full-time. As a type A personality, being in my classroom full time is easier somehow than sharing work space and a vision for the year. Or so I thought. In the search for a more inspired, collaborative work environment, I found the perfect situation...at UBC, unfortunately a long commute from home in after work traffic. With a new position at a literally new school, teaching a new grade level the new government curriculum, all with a new team in a new type of educational setting and a population of largely ELL learners, my work is FULL ON. The challenge suits me and interests me and I love that I am growing and learning and improving every day. What doesn't work for me is being away from my kids so much. I know, everyone does it, but that doesn't mean we want to or we should. Don't get me wrong, teaching is my calling and I do not want to give it up, I just want to find balance. I want to be there for my boys and know what is happening in their lives. Go on field trips with them and have playdates. Whisk them away from school or daycare early to go on an adventure, just because. I know what you are thinking: You have so many holidays. (Just so you know, I am on a 10-month salary). You get off work at 3 pm, so you have lots of time with you kids. Wrong. Yes, I get off earlier in theory than many jobs. But I also work before and after school for hours because I take pride in my work. By the time I get home with the kids, it is time to rapidly throw together some dinner for my instantly ravenous children, eat, clean up and do dishes, make lunches for tomorrow, do a bunch of menial tasks and then put them to bed before I sit on the couch and breathe.
I am not complaining, although I may seem like I am. I know all of this needs to happen and everyone does it. I know it seems like nobody has time anymore. What I am questioning is the why. I know it drives my husband batty when I think that I can have my cake and eat it too. The fact is that I honestly think I can most of the time with some creative thinking and help. I think we all can. I know it drives my personal trainer crazy when I call last minute to cancel an appointment because something has come up. I get it. I can be frustrating and seemingly selfish. (However, I do still have to pay her and she gets an extra hour free!) Maybe I am, but the way I see it, we only live once. We need to follow our hearts and our dreams. All of us. We need to find ways to support each other to live our biggest lives possible, whether that means living quietly in the company of our closest friends and family or taking the world by storm.
My 40 years on this planet have been filled with blessings and adventures, big and small. My freedom. My family. My boys. My friends. My travels. And yes, I want more.
Every night I go to bed, I have thoughts swirling in my head. Things to do. Scrapbook pages I want to create. Gifts I want to make. Skills I want to learn. And, of course, daily happenings that I don't want to forget, but invariably will by tomorrow morning, only to pop up in a random thought weeks down the road. So, here I am. I may use this blog daily to empty my head and heart before cuddling up in my duvet, or as it may be, I may write in it once a month. Who knows. It is for me, but perhaps something I write or learn may spark a fire in someone else. Perhaps it may quiet a mind or make you feel like you are not alone out there. It is for me. But perhaps it is for you.