Monday, September 10, 2012

one week down, eighteen years to go

Remember that post on mothering full-time and working part-time?  Thanks for your good blog comments, facebook comments, and emails, dear readers.  I love the dialogue, hearing your experiences, and just knowing I'm not alone in this balancing act.

I'm one week into the crazy fall schedule, and I guess you could say it's had its ups and downs.  Last Tuesday was stressful.  Wednesday went surprisingly well.  Thursday was awful.  Friday was okay.  And Saturday was, oddly enough, pretty good, despite it being my fullest day of teaching, Nathan not being available to watch Nell as he usually will be on Saturdays, and then having 40+ people fill my backyard just 15 minutes after my last private student left, for a kick-off picnic for the youth orchestras Abby and I conduct.  Phew.

Then, today was the first rehearsal of the year for the youth orchestra, and also Nell's first time being left at the house with anyone other than Nathan.  Even though I was only gone for just over two hours, it felt like much longer.  It made me realize that the way we experience time can be so strange; two hours at home with Nell goes by so quickly ("oh, it's already time for another diaper change/feeding/nap"), and I often feel like I haven't gotten much done.  But in two hours this afternoon I met twelve new little ensemble players, did introductions all around, went over two new pieces of music, clapped and counted and marched rhythms, dealt with paperwork and such things, and came home feeling like I'd been gone practically all day.  I couldn't wait to hold Nell, to sink into my armchair in the living room and nurse her and snuggle her.

There have been some stressful moments in the past week.

But there have also been some lovely moments.

Like a conversation with E. about how her violin practice at home has been going, to which she said, "I don't mind practicing; I just don't want to give in when my dad tells me to do it."  And then hastily waved her hands nervously, and whispered, "Don't tell him I said that, don't tell him!"

{I love insights like that into the minds of children.}

Or the parent who came up to me today and told me that her son C., who moved up to the next level in the youth orchestra program, said in the car on the way to rehearsal, "I hope I like Miss Abby as much as I liked Miss Sarah last year."

{Warms my heart, I tell you.}

Parenting and working.  It's all a learning experience; and how could it be otherwise when Nell is growing and changing so fast that any time I might think we might have a 'schedule', she up and changes it?

There were moments in the past week when she sat happily in her chair and listened to lessons with wide-eyed interest without making a peep.  There were moments when she needed to be held.  And there were moments, particularly late in the afternoon/early evening on Thursday, when she downright fussed, and I ended up feeling unhappy, a bad mother and a bad teacher simultaneously, and in desperate need of a nap.   

But here we both are, still alive.

{I bought her a little 'walker' chair off Craigslist, because I had begun to notice that she preferred sitting more upright to reclining in a swing now.  And sure enough, she loves that thing!  By the way, see those darker blue ruffles on her onesie?  Yeah, those are the same color as the rest of the fabric.  She's just become the world's most drooley baby in the past few weeks, that's all.}

I'm working on arranging someone to watch Nell at least on Thursday afternoons, when I teach lessons at a nearby high school and it's much, much more difficult to keep my girl happy than it is at home where she can nap in a quiet room.  

I think everyone knows this, but I just need to say it:

Nell really isn't a source of "stress" in my life.  I hope it doesn't ever come across on this blog like she is.  She brings us joy and laughter, a new sense of purpose and fulfillment, and can always, always bring smiles to our faces.  Sure, having her in our family means some restructuring of our lives, increased communication between Nathan and me about our schedules, and times of worry.  But it's working part-time that causes me to stress out a little, and only because I love this baby girl so, so much, and want to be a good mother to her, and I worry about how to help her be the happiest, and safest, and most well-cared-for that she can be.  I hate feeling like I have to adapt her to my schedule, because the best days of all are the ones when we don't feel scheduled at all, and I can just respond to her cues and help her be the happy little girl she naturally is.

So that's the balancing act of my new life.  Being a teacher to my students and a mother to my daughter, and figuring out what that looks like, one day at a time.

And I know she looks super dopey in this picture, but I can't help posting it because I love her grin.  Here's Nell again in her new walker.  She can sort of propel herself around in it in an accidental sort of fashion, either by flailing her arms with glee, or by kicking her feet against the floor a bit, which moves her backwards.  So I pull her towards me, she scoots backwards until stopped by a wall or object, and we repeat the process.  With lots of smiles and laughs throughout it.

Look at those chubba-chubba-licious arms.  I made those adorable rolls!  I've nourished this baby from a single cell!  So maybe I've got an added roll or two of my own for the time being {sigh}, but I look at this little human I've grown, and I try to cut myself some slack.

Have I mentioned that I love this girl?

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