Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Making Bank, Shaking Hands, Driving 80

Spitting out all the things that have been rattling around in my mind and seeing how many I can get through before Vieve wakes up from her nap.

I'm just starting to actually try to get Vieve on a real schedule. Like yesterday was day one. I've been letting her nap willy nilly, mostly in the car seat while we run errands at my convenience or on my lap at her convenience (Mama not complaining about being forced to sit under a sleeping baby while watching TV or reading, I mean that's basically my dream afternoon). But the truth is that eventually I'll go back to work (sniffle and also yay) and we'll all function better at that point and in the meantime if she has some kind of schedule.

The good news is she has taken to it like a fish to water, to use a tired cliche. I'm loosely following Taking Cara Babies recommendations (she's on IG and someone in my nursing moms group recommended her to someone else so I started following her). So far it's going well in terms of naps, but then baby was up three times last night where normally it's one or two. I don't think that's a reflection on the nap system, though. I return to the only truth I actually know about babies, which is that they are their own people doing their own things and that as soon as you get used to something, they hit a developmental leap and it all changes.

I still wasn't thrilled to hear her fussing at 1:45am with David gone at a conference and the other two girls in my bed, snuggling sweetly at first but later unconsciously flinging a knee or elbow my way. But when I sit up groggily and reach into the bassinet (I know, she's really outgrown it. We're moving her to a crib this weekend.) and I pick her up, she quits fussing and nuzzles her fuzzy little head into my shoulder, and I push my nose into that warm little part of her neck just under her ear and I just melt. Worth waking up for, even when I'd rather not.

* * *

Coco is half day today because her school is having their first round of parent/teacher conferences (ours are next week). She's playing so nicely and quietly by herself with little characters while Vieve sleeps and I type this. It's positively delightful.

Also the house is (briefly) (mostly) clean and laundry is put away (except for the two loads currently running in the washer and dryer) and it still smells like the pumpkin spice candle I lit this morning.

I've been thinking about the word "fall" and I read somewhere recently that it developed as the linguistic corollary to "spring" but it nicely literal what with falling leaves and quiet settling. Because my grief season is early December, fall feels a little unsettling, even now, nearly nine years out. I am usually very productive in early fall because I want to build a cushion around that first week in December. I put up fall decorations and Halloween stuff and later I'm early with Christmas decorations, knowing that I'm falling into both the literal and figurative darkest part of the year for me. I am able to look forward to the Christmas holidays now, and I think cope better with grief in general, but I still feel like I'm descending in the fall.

I fight the dark moods by making the house cozy, but fall will never be my favorite season. I can get behind pumpkins and candles and flannel, but even my most delicious vegetarian chili (my friend Natalie would be SO PROUD of me because I've used her chili recipe for years and years but yesterday was the first time that I made it from start to finish without LOOKING at the recipe and just kind of winging it with what we had in the fridge--and it's delicious!) does not beat summer's offering of stone fruit and tomato mozzarella sandwiches. Sorry, Fall, but your slimey squashes are no match for summer produce.

* * *

I've been having some really sweet stay-at-home-days, and greatly appreciating the flexibility of being here at home in a very busy season for our family (season as in fall--heh--and season as in kids in school at two different schools and new baby). At the same time, I'm looking ahead to going back to work. I return to my old campus for a few weeks at the very end of this semester and I have a new development for future employment that I will say more about when things are finalized with my current employer. At any rate, with all the upheaval, I'm having a lot of second thoughts and questions about working, budgets, my identity, a feeling of purpose, what gives me the most satisfaction, what makes me happy, where I should devote the majority of my time and energy, etc.

You know, just light and fluffy considerations over here while nursing the baby in the wee hours.

Anyway, I read this article that captured exactly for me the reason that I want to work but that I also want to have a job that allows me flexibility and focus on my family, too. It's called What It's Like to Be 90-Something and it's written by a female pastor who interviewed 90-somethings in her church. To her surprise, they all said that the most stressful years of their lives (when their kids were young) were also the happiest. And they all valued relationships (or mourned them) far above any other achievement or accomplishment. It was her reflection on her own career that articulated exactly how I feel but had never quite put into words when I puzzled over why I want to go back to work when I also love my tiny little squishy babies so much and I know how fast the time with them goes:

"I certainly won't be giving up my job to hang out with my family more because I also recognize that satisfying careers and financial stability are great sources of fulfillment, which in turn, affect family well-being. But these different perspectives helped me to focus on what really matters in the face of competing responsibilities and priorities."

I hope that the next phase in my career allows me to find that focus, and I know that I need to be brave enough to make changes if it doesn't.

* * *

Today on the way home from school, Coco asked to hear "the song about feeding the baby." She meant "Redesigning Women" by the Highwomen which is SO GREAT (the whole album, really), and I especially love that song right now... "running the world while I'm cleaning up the kitchen / making bank, shaking hands, driving eighty / tryin' to get home just to feed the baby."

I've definitely felt that rush even now before I go back to work as I think about what to prioritize in parenting and my own life/self/interests. Things I've thought about in the middle of the night:

- At what point will I let my hair go naturally gray?
- How many updates to the iphone will there be in my lifetime?
- Will Clementine ever be the kind of dog that I could take to work with me?
- Do I need to enroll my kids in music lessons?
- Why won't my kids play team sports? Should we be concerned?
- Why didn't I play team sports?
- What play would I want to be in if I were in a theater production right now?
- How do middle class people ever actually pay cash for a college education?
- Who benefits from our society being polarized and divided politically?
- Do deer eat pumpkins?

More musings later--I'm off to play mancala with Coco.

1 comment:

  1. How do middle class people ever actually pay cash for a college education? Good question. I'm a little fuzzy on the income cutoffs, but I think we fall into upper middle or lower upper with two professional incomes, and I am quite sure we're going to fill out that FAFSA and it's going to tell us that on paper we should be able to just write out a check for school and I'm going to just sink into a puddle on the ground. And let me clearly state that I do not think we are entitled to expect money over other families without two well compensated professional incomes. I'm just looking at college expenses right now and laughing at the idea of writing out checks each year for $XX,XXX.XX amount of money. It's hilarious. Once you start to realize that most of the schools your kid is looking at don't offer merit-based scholarships, only need-based (I'm talking about the majority of private universities here), then you quickly realize how your FAFSA will sit in the pile for those $$$. On the bottom. I guess in the 25+ years removed from school I forgot how this stuff works. There's also a benefit to having multiple kids in school at the same time, but of course our kids are six years apart! Super grateful that we've been able to save money along the way for school, but the cost of college is unreal.