It is amazing what you can pack into a day. Today has included practicing, lots of conversation (during the twins’ naptime, and while Hazel played at the playground after school, and then with another friend this evening), time with Hazel (we promised her a mango lassi when she lost her first wiggly tooth, but it got delayed by her birthday, and by both of us getting sick; but today I came through and got it for her), as well as teaching, and a host of other normal family related activity (including taking Ted to the doctor and the twins to a drop-in daycare). As I got out my computer and started thinking about the two really long conversations I had today I wondered how on earth I had managed that. The answer is, by not-practicing (in that particular chunk of time), and by not-sleeping & further not-practicing (I could have practiced after getting the kids down, but went out with a friend instead).
So, out of the total 6 or 7 hours I could have practiced today, I managed just under 2. This is a thing over which I would have previously beaten myself up. I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking that I should only do X thing I want to do if it doesn’t come at the cost of Y or Z. What I am coming to understand, belatedly, as an adult and especially as a parent, is that X is ALWAYS at the cost of something else, because there are always 16 or 17 important things I could be doing in any moment.
And having choices is good. Being able to make choices without self-flagellation is even better.
I’d also like to start cultivating times in my life (how, I only have fleeting and unformed ideas) in which the choices are few and time stretches out, related to the way it can during summer vacation when you’re a kid. It’s not actually possible to recapture youth, or to experience life in the way one did as a child, but I do think it’s possible to set up a week or two in such a way that the constant drumbeat of activity, electronic connection, and deadlines is set aside. I think that for my own sanity, as well as for my kids’ perspective, I would like to find time(s) during the year in which we disconnect, slow down.
Right now that’s mostly just a wish. But there’s a gossamer thread of intention running through the wish that feels strong enough to eventually sustain a plan and then follow-through. It’s my spider web.
One thing that Ted and I have talked about is taking the girls to a park regularly on Saturdays, to walk, to be outside. This is something that is harder here than in the UK (my other frame of reference), where there are walking paths everywhere, and a stronger cultural tradition of walking. But it is something we can make happen. And it is one way, I think. Getting outside is magic. It’ll be even better if we bike or bus to the parks we visit.
And then the other thing I want to do is embrace the reality that there are lots of good, viable, sometimes urgent possibilities in any given moment, and to cultivate gratitude for a full and varied life.