This week I felt like a superstar.
I launched my first big research project this week, worth over a million TT, and full of exciting stuff I’ve been planning for months. I’ve got an amazing project coordinator so I’m not doing it by myself and the help that I get is just what I need. Despite a thousand small things going wrong – or not quite as I wanted or planned – if I looked at the fundamental things that had to happen, I can say that they all did and they all went as well as they could. My senior advisors were happy, my funder was happy, my project coordinator was happy, my boss was happy and I was happy.
I’m feeling good because I feel like I’m just at that stage of my career when I have enough experience to know how to envision things and logistically see them through. I’m past the junior years, but just at the opening of my senior ones in my field, and I feel knowledgeable, powerful, capable, confident, well-mentored and trained by the absolute best. It’s a wonderful place to be, one I’ve worked hard to get at after 20 years in the women’s movement, 17 years in my department since joining as a graduate student and after 14 years of university. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way at this age. I think it’s probably pretty common. Many folks spend the years from their early twenties working here and there at the things they are interested in and by the time a decade or more has gone by, there is no way not to have gathered some good skills. I still feel like I’m in my twenties (which is soooo 30s and 40s to say!), but when I realize I’m teaching students born when I was already in university, I know I’m not a yout anymore. So, what’s left but to appreciate the experience that all this time has brought.
Of course, this project is total added pressure, but once I don’t overstep myself (which is hard to pre-determine), my ambition kicks in under high expectations. I’m lucky to have been where I was when this project came up and I feel, as I often do, that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, ups and downs and all. Naturally, right behind me is a network of support I thank the universe for daily. My mom kept Zi an extra day and when I drop her off there I know she’s in the best possible hands, my helper put in many extra hours – all with generosity of spirit and her smile, my husband took extra shifts to enable me to be out late nights and early mornings, my friends checked in to see how I was. I could have achieved none of this without them. Here too I feel simply lucky.
Zi decided to grow two new teeth this very week to add to the twelve (!) she already has, therefore got up anywhere between four and six times a night every single night, and spent hours sleeping on top of and attached to me. When I crawled out of bed like the walking dead to start the day, somehow I managed to do it without being grumpy, with my brain working in full gear and with me even wearing ironed clothes. How I did it, I still don’t know. I’m the girl who needed nine hours sleep to function. Now, I practically never get more than three continuously. I am too exhausted to do half the things I want to, like go to the opening of the Common sense Convois at a panyard in Tunapuna or do a 5k walk with the Ministry of Gender around the savannah or just drive to Maracas – things that are totally fun in my mind but impossible next to the option of staying home and lying about all day today. Anyway, what matters is that somehow, like most mothers, I just got on and did it. About this I felt good too and somewhat rewarded when, on Friday night, after I was near collapse at the end of a hard week, Ziya slept right through from 9 to 4.30am. Bless her little alligator self.
These past months, I’ve been stressing endlessly about how far behind I am on my publishing – and I still am. Don’t even ask about that paper I had for the professor, due two weeks ago. I’ve not even written to him in shame to say its not ready yet. I’ve also been constantly alert to the fact that neither Stone nor Zi get enough time with me. I know that both miss me and I’m scared I turn into one of those partners and moms who is always at work or working, always tired or pre-occupied and not as fun as I really can be. I still feel this way. And, as usual, I still stress about not getting myself to one thing or another in the women’s movement. But just for today, those sentiments feel far away.
Today, I’m just feeling good. I had the nicest ten minutes tonight with Zi, right before bed. We quietly read three books together and then she turned around and spontaneously gave me a kiss, then a few minutes later she decided she was in a big hurry to go look for her dada and it was all over. Still, if a choir of angels were going to leap out of the cupboard and sing, those would have been the right moments.
What more could I have asked for this week, an amazing few days at work that it took months to prepare for, a quiet weekend at home full of those moments that you simply can’t plan, and the sense of the present to appreciate it as it unfolds.
Now I’m off to listen to an album with Stone, something akin to what we used to do for whole days or weekends more than a decade ago when we first met. He’s probably got a good half hour of me ahead, nothing like days or a weekend, but it’s all I got. Monday awaits and I’m not sure this feeling of contentment, satisfaction and accomplishment will survive my entry past the door. I don’t really have any profound thoughts from the perfections and imperfections of this last week. All I am is grateful.