Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning to Breathe

Over the last month I have powerwashed every conceivable outdoor surface of our home that can take it, weeded my entire garden (no small thing), aerated, tilled and seeded the whole backyard(twice!), painted several items of furniture, sorted and packed years worth of baby clothes, planned one baby shower, reorganized and rearranged the nursery, babysat multiple times, picked up lots of sweet little boys from school, played several fierce games of volleyball, run countless miles in my neighborhood, coached four soccer practices and one game, handmade several items of Jewelry, volunteered at a book fair, spoken at two InterVarsity large groups, handwashed my garage doors, shed and front porch and, lest we not forget, reinjured my toe about 15 times in the above processes.

One might say I have a little too much time on my hands. And one would be right.

Here's the deal. My son is now in school 6 1/2 hours a day. And on the days when my husband drives him in and a neighbor picks him up, I am alone in my house from 7:15 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon. Never in my life, other than those brief, shimmering, glorious childhood summers of long ago, have I had such a yawning abyss of unstructured time. Even those summers felt more clear: wake up, swim, play, eat, repeat ad nauseum, then go to bed.

Now, being the extreme "J" on the Myers-Briggs' scale that I am, I have come up with a lovely excel spreadsheet that outlines what I could (or perhaps more accurately, what I think I should) be doing during all of those waking minutes. And it is prominently displayed in my home office where I see it every single morning. And every single morning I, wickedly, think to myself "I don't REALLY have to follow that." Because the true story is that I don't. I have been moving at lightning speed for years, with a job in high school, always working over college breaks and often during the semesters themselves, barely a break between college graduation and that first job, and an overlap between my first and second jobs. I'm still working that second post-college job, although some of the specifics of the every day have changed. So, other than some vacation time, my weeks have always been really full. And when we brought a child into that mix almost 6 years ago, things only got faster, fuller, more insane. (Although, incidentally, my brain seemed inexplicably not to work as well after the addition of said juvenile complication.) And even in my "down" moments I've always felt like I should be moving. Thinking. Doing. Completing. Planning. Never just enjoying life moment to moment and not producing something. That is, after all, as illogical a concept to us "J's" as the idea of not liking excel would be.

So, I've tried to slow down. Given the extreme list of "things" I've been doing it would seem like it hasn't worked. But a month of free time is a LOT of time. And working part time, the hours are done really early in the day. So, I'm still left with hours. And so I've sat on my back patio with coffee and books for hours at a time. I've read books I've wanted to read for awhile and drank way too much coffee. I've fought against every guilty inclination I have that I'm not accomplishing something. I've started dreaming about what life will be like when my husband gets a post-doc and I start working to head back to school myself, which is still quite a way away but fun to think about. I've counted down the minutes until my son gets home and had tons of energy and enthusiasm with which to play legos. Miracle of miracles. 

The space has caused something else unexpected. For this woman, dreader of the baby stage, I've found myself looking forward to that little one that will be here (hopefully, soon.) I've thought how nice it will be to take long walks with the stroller, rather than just by myself, how peaceful it will be for that baby to sleep on my chest on a lounge chair on the patio while I read a book. (Or, more likely, sleep myself, because let's be honest here.)  I know, some of you moms of babies are cracking up at me right now. But let me delude myself into only remembering and expecting the sweet moments for the time being. I have spent most of our adoption waiting period dreading the hard ones and it is exhausting.

Bottom line, I'm learning to look at this period as a gift, rather than an unwanted waiting or some kind of interm. Firstborn in school, second one an undisclosed number of days or weeks or months away from being a part of our family. Job, flexible. Fall weather, a spectacular and unusual gift for NC in September. Lots of quiet to listen and rest and dream and prepare my heart for baby number 2.

Next time this will happen? Probably years. So, I'm going to go make myself an iced coffee and sit in my favorite spot. And drink it all in. And breathe slowly. And NOT feel guilty that I'm not accomplishing something.

After all, for some of us, learning to breathe is actually quite an accomplishment.