Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On limits and freedoms

Yesterday we found worms. Alyce dug them up in the garden and carried them around the backyard for a solid forty-five minutes, disappointed by my decision against worms as indoor pets. Shira, too, was excited by the worms in Alyce's hands and followed her around the backyard like only an almost two-year old can. Did I mention they were both in their jammies? Oh, I love non-school days. On the surface I look forward to school days because I get some time to myself to work while Shira is napping (like at this very moment), but there is something I love about hanging around with these two. I'm learning a lot from them, and not just about worms.

I'm learning a lot from others, too. After my post the other day about my resemblance to a lazy slug, my cousin, Lisa, reached out with some advice. She's an incredible mother to a one year old boy and I take what she says very seriously (she once took me white water rafting, and we didn't die, so I've learned to trust her). She told me never to stop moving during my days at home with the girls, and I think she's on to something. Not that our bodies don't need a break sometimes, but since energy often boils down to momentum, it seems like a good idea to preserve it once you've got it.

It's been making me think about my experiences working outside the home. I've never had an office job (and since I'm trying hard to forget that terrible office temp work I did in the fall, I'm sticking to my version of history), but I've worked plenty hard in other jobs. I've been a server in a bar and fine dining restaurant. I've spent years in libraries reading, writing, and trying desperately to translate Sanskrit and Tibetan (I was terrible at that job). I've taught university classes, in person and online, to hundreds of students. In all of these jobs I've often worked hard and fast, allowing the momentum to push me through hours of work that I didn't always enjoy. In these jobs I had clearly outlined tasks that kept me busy and I think all the uncertainty I've experienced in the past few years has stood in the way of the momentum that comes from becoming absorbed in the work that you do.

I've been reading a lot lately about how to balance the scales between limits and freedoms. Creativity is the outcome of this balance. If you have too many limits there isn't any room for movement in any direction, but too much freedom can be paralyzing. Lately I've become a bit of an expert on the latter and I've felt frustrated when so many (good-intentioned) people have told me just to enjoy myself, to take advantage of all the time at home with my family. But they were right in many ways and from the outside they could see things I couldn't. Staying home with Alyce and Shira is a choice I've made, given both the reality of our (un)employment this past year and my own preference to spend as much time as I can with them while they are so young. The reason I was so often deaf to my friends' advice was that everything felt so unbalanced: I had so much freedom and no tangible limits, outside, of course, the financial limits imposed by months of unemployment.

Staying busy, for me, means finding that balance. If I want to enjoy some momentum I need to declare some limits amidst all my freedom. When I find myself feeling energy-less it is often because I just don't know which direction to move in. The girls want to play, I need to put in a few hours for work and plan dinner (usually for the entire house), plans need to made for our impending move out of my mum's, and, now, I need to complete my certification to become a labour doula. My perspective this last year, feeling a bit helpless as Matt and I try to navigate a new stability for our family, has stood in the way. As simple as it may sound, I have been unable to declare my intentions for my life in such a way as to live within both limits and freedoms. I've been floating around and unwilling to commit to the realities of our life, both the good and bad. Why have I done this? Fear, uncertainty, mostly fear. But without this balance I've been useless to myself.

Staying busy, listening to Lisa's advice, means staking a claim in the life I have right now. I am a mother staying at home who works part-time as a teacher and, hopefully, as a labour doula. This is where I am, so I need to stop wandering. I love all of these things but I need to remember that some days. When Lisa offered her advice she suggested that I just get up in the morning and start moving. Take the girls out on a bug walk, she said. Spend the morning outside. And so I did. We found worms and I had a fabulous day.

Listen to Lisa. Go find some worms

1 comment:

  1. wow what a great post! thanks Danielle :)
    you made my day
    I'm glad you guys found some good worms!
    Tao and I had some worm adventures yesterday too.
    love ya