This year I am starting my second year as a working mother. It’s been both surreal and real. On the one hand, miraculous and awesome and heart-bursting. On the other, exhausting, challenging and daunting.
I took a moment to ask my sistren what their ‘resolutions’ were for this year. Maybe not resolutions, but thoughts or goals or plans or visions to mark the present, to improve their lives and stretch their reach, to articulate dreams that remain vital, and value each moment of the future. I know what I need to do, but I know such amazing women that there is always so much to learn from them, whether they are starting new degree programmes or looking for the right commune to live in or planning babies, being the shepherd to those they know need tending or just remembering to make time for themselves in the midst of their responsibilities.
One of these women said that her goal was to practice ‘fasting of the heart’, learning to live with less and be happy. Another’s was to walk with an open heart, learning an ability to look beyond what she knows and expects, to see a potential in that beyond. Both were beautiful and inpiring ideals.
My goal this year is of course to somehow get more writing done and more publications out, to be willing to be less good at other things so that I find more time. As I was saying to a friend, my new motto at work is f**k students, admin, emails, whatever…I. Am. Writing. Blessedly, she suggested instead saying ‘I’ll get back to you on that’, which is what she’s going to be saying at her academic post on the other side of the world. This is why you need friends, to remind you about tact when the going gets tough.
Aside from the writing though, what is clearly ahead of me is balance. I’ve known that balance is at the centre of my path since my ‘anew’ ritual with Elspeth and Hebe in January 2009. It replaced focus and discipline, and signalled that it was time for a new cycle to open. I’m aiming for balance in mothering Ziya, spending time with Stone, publishing, making time for my own needs and creativity, seeing my friends enough for them to know I care, and doing what little I can to continue to support feminist struggle. I am aiming to accept that maybe I can’t give 95% as I would have before, but that 70% may get me by and ensure both sustainability and sanity.
Somehow, no matter how I arrange it, things slip. The small things that slip might be appointments I completely forget about or reference letters I can only get out 5 days later than I hoped or the emails I just don’t get to. The big things are all the million things I’d be doing with my time, learning a language or doing yoga or hiking, but which have been squeezed out by that family-work nexus. Mostly, I lose time with friends, but I also lose space for real creativity and, increasingly, I’m being forced to cut back on activism. All I can do about that is sigh and tell myself that life is about phases and stages, and that this too will pass.
So this year is about words and love, balance and acceptance, single-minded focus and the instinct to know when to let go. This is the real part, always defined by the challenge to continue to see the magic in it all.