The parameters of my life are flexible and kind. Marriage, children, family, work, projects, books. Life feels less like a balancing act and more like a revolving platform. Some days feature more kids and work, other mornings, like today, feature books and projects.
One thing I struggle with is guilt. When doing one thing, I worry that I should be doing another. When sitting alone on my day off on a porch with a cup of coffee and a book, I think lingering thoughts that I should be at home with my children playing silly games and monitoring toy sharing. I try to remember to be glad to be here. With my book and my coffee and knowing that silly games will be there this afternoon. Like I said, the parameters are kind.
I come across these days from time to time. Days when I cannot sit still or see one more niggling task to its end. I find them suddenly, often on cloudless days when the trees are leafing, and find that all I can do is enjoy the moments when I can lose my focus. When I can let incessant driving towards a goal cease. When I can watch leaves and birds and clear skies and mercifully accept that what needs to get done will. And that which does not will pass away. When I come across these days, I also come across perspective. Rather than trying to fight through, knuckle under, brace against the distractions, I let them wash over me and pull me along their current. Towards a place I did not realize I needed to go.
Three-year-olds are awesome and terrible. Mine seems to live in a constant state of contradiction. He loves/hates Catty, mommy, outside, daddy, glass straws, peanuts, our dog. The quickness of emotional turmoil in my house is astounding. He makes me want to lock him in his bedroom by yelling that he “wants daddy not you” on repeat and then follows it up by wanting “to be hold” by me and giving my knee kisses and telling me he loves his mommy an eye blink later. I love having a three-year-old; I dislike three-year-old tendencies. Apparently, the contradictions are contagious.
I have a bug and a chickadee for valentines this year. My bug has a sweet heart and usually a sunny disposition. My chickadee is happy and playful. Both are curious. Both give fantastic kisses. Both fill my heart.
“Nasty woman” never sat well with me. It’s not the origination or appropriation of the phrase; it’s the fact that I don’t identify as nasty. I’m a lot of things, but nasty, even in an ironic sense, does not work for me.
What does work for me is persisting. I have persisted my entire life. In fact, I’ve defined myself by persistence. As a teenager, I was an endurance athlete. I ran the 3 mile cross-country race and the 3200 and 4×800 relay in track. I played mental games with myself to keep going to the next tree, the next curve, the next baton hand off. I played the long game to work my way into a career that I find worthwhile and fulfilling. I read difficult books, start long-term projects, and accept that the intangible goals I have for myself will take time and work to accomplish. I am stubborn. I am persistent.
I am a feminist because I believe that men and women are equal and deserve equal treatment under the law and by society. There are movements within feminism; it is a complex philosophy with champions and critics within and outside. Feminist philosophy has political, social and creative outlets. There are people who love to talk in depth about what it is and isn’t. I prefer to spend my mental energies elsewhere.
Nevertheless, I am a feminist who persists. I always have been.
A lot of life has happened since I wrote last. My immobile baby is a powerhouse crawler who turns one next month. My inquisitive son is still questioning the world and has added doing construction on pieces of leftover drywall to his long list of pastimes. My husband passed the test he studied so hard to pass. I officially took on the full time position at the museum that I wanted so badly to fill.
I cycled through a months-long bout of not being able to read outside of work, and I started to learn hand embroidery to fill those nights when I cannot read because my hands cannot be still. I have tried to learn how to be still. It’s a work in progress. I started doing basic yoga. It’s a work in progress too.
These past months have been full of life within my family, and I am mentally balancing that everyday joy with other emotions. These other emotions include fear over what our larger national conversations are becoming. I struggle to balance saying what I believe with not being baited into pointless arguments that change no one’s mind. I am trying to conquer my personal fear of not offending anyone. I called my senator for the first time ever. I’ve written postcards; I’ve sent emails. I smile at my neighbors. I remember that we are more than our politics. I remember that words matter and that there is such a thing as objective truth.
And then I mentally walk it back and play with “pludo” (Play-Doh) and crawl on the floor and get covered in open-mouth toddler kisses and endure toddler “tickles” which are really jabs in the neck. And I find balance. And I practice being still.
I love the way Noah talks. He replaces f’s in the middle of words with p’s, which makes Mickey Mouse’s friend Goopy and Emily Elizabeth’s big red dog Clippord. He calls himself a goopball when he does something silly.
He calls a kiss ‘kips’ and refers to himself as ‘my,’ as in “my want that.” He goes through this list a lot, “My love daddy. My love mommy. Mommy love daddy. My love Louise.”
Noah showed me a picture of us at the beach. He said, “This is my flamly. I love my flamly. This is daddy, mommy, me and Louise. My flamly.”
Louise learned that you can splash in the bathtub. This is hysterical. Her laughter is infectious.
Noah goes down the slide on his belly. Six months ago he was afraid to go down it any way.
Louise likes to play “ghost” with Noah. It’s like peekaboo, but Noah is a ghost. There might be more to it, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
Noah is so happy that we have been going on family walks again.
Louise discovered that the outside swing is fun to be in.
Noah does yoga with us. Correction–Noah does five minutes of yoga and then climbs on us the rest of the time. There is a lot of laughing.
Louise sits and reaches for toys. If she would stay on her belly for any length of time, I think she’d be scooting.