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little gifts.

As I write this I’m reflecting on the first month of fall. It’s shaping up to be a nice one and already it feels different from recent years. Our two kids are a little older and, for the first time in a long time, I’ve been thinking more about how I want the next few years to look. Certainly parenting and being a good partner play huge roles. But what I’m really talking about is the ability to seek out more of what interests me at this stage in life. That after many years of being fully focused on being a mom, there’s a little more time for me now (wow), and a huge desire to figure it out.

I’ve heard this sentiment a lot lately from good friends who also happen to be great moms. Our kids are no longer so little. Or they might still be young but how they are cared for is a shared responsibility, and it’s sorted out for the most part. As a result, that small piece of “me” on the pie chart is suddenly beginning to widen. This piece could be many things: a new job, a return to a career, a hobby. In some cases it’s something far simpler but just as meaningful. A book to read. A regular shower. An episode of “Girls”. It’s what I think about most lately for myself. How to revive past, but not forgotten, loves.

If I had to pick one love, it would be writing. I think obsessively about how to begin writing again without sacrificing too much of the good stuff already in place: calm parenting, being present for my husband. Right now, I am losing. There are many days when I am struck by how scattered it all feels even a decade into marriage and kids. Like last Friday. A jam-packed day with our new fall routine: two school runs, a little writing, dinner prep, kids activities. By four o’ clock, I was frazzled. I struck up a conversation with a fellow parent in the waiting room of a ballet class for our eldest daughter. The class is an hour long. I had every technology in place to try to keep our youngest, who is barely four, quiet and interested. To no avail. She would play in small bursts on my phone and then become both excited and agitated. Five minutes in she was running wild. The dad I had been talking to pulled out a handful of library books. He started reading quietly to his child. And then he read to both of our children, who sat still and enjoyed the storytime very much. I did too. It was a gift in my day. I think what struck me most was that here I was, occupied by thoughts about my own future and how I wanted it to look, and here was this fellow parent who was so completely present. Patiently reading book after book.

That afternoon was a great lesson to me in patience and time management. It made me realize that with a little patience, I can and will find the time to manage things better. A return to writing (or anything beyond motherhood alone) is noble, but it won’t look like it did before children. There might not be the same amount of uninterrupted time dedicated to these other loves, but that shouldn’t make doing them any less satisfying. It’s just a more grown up version, messy and imperfect. I’m trying to embrace the little things. Small chunks of time. Brief writer’s notes. The gift of a short book, either one I am reading or one I’m reading to someone else.

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