Summer Rest

There's not a lot going on right now. For the first time in 7 years I am not teaching summer piano lessons. (Except when I took maternity leave the summer Johnny was born.) I had 17 students this year, which only worked out to about 10 hours a week of active teaching, but it felt like more.  On days that I teach I need to keep the first floor of my house tidy, which is almost a losing battle with Johnny around. I also need to have dinner ready early those days, because I teach right up to, and after the dinner hour. That means I need to make a strategic meal plan for the week of things I can put in the crock-pot, or assemble in the morning and then put in the oven while I'm teaching. It doesn't sound like much, but considering how easily an hour can get swallowed up by just breastfeeding and then changing a couple of diapers, staying organized enough to keep my studio running consumed a pretty large amount of time and head space each week.

This past year has been stressful. Alex's school has been very stressful for him, and for me. His successes and failures are my successes and failures.  If he does well on a test that means I've done my job of running our home and giving him the space and time he needs to learn his material well. Conversely, if he does poorly I feel like it's my fault for distracting him too much. Alex is the one who goes to class each day, but really, we're both in grad school. 

Getting used to having two kids has been stressful. Johnny and I had worked out  pretty good groove before Trixie was born, and when she came we had to start over. She is delightful, but it's still been an adjustment. Although not nearly as hard of an adjustment as when Johnny was born.

Everything that happened with Johnny's hearing this winter became very stressful very quickly. Johnny's hearing and speech development had never been of much concern to me when he was a baby. His GI stuff was much scarier. I always kind of felt like the hearing thing would just work itself out. Then for the first time this winter he seemed behind, like he was falling through the cracks, and we weren't doing enough for him. To realize he had not been hearing was scary, and I felt like we had failed him.

All these things, combined with the sleep deprivation that comes with having a baby, and all the other little things that come up in life were piling up in my brain and I was beginning to feel serious burn out. I knew something needed to go, and it couldn't be my kids, or PA school. The only thing left to go was piano lessons. So they went. (In case any of my student's parents are reading, don't worry, I'm still planning on teaching again in the fall.)

It was definitely the right thing to do. My days aren't really more peaceful. We still manage to somehow be really busy. But there isn't anything hanging over my head. Sometimes I get the feeling like I should be doing something, cleaning a bathroom, or answering an email, but when I stop and search my brain there's really nothing I need to be doing outside of caring for my family. And now that that's the only thing I need to do, doing it is a lot more enjoyable.

I have some things I'd like to do this summer. I'd like to stay on top of the weeds in the garden this year. I'd like to work on my sewing and add some things to my etsy shop. There's a couple rooms in our house that I'd like to paint. But if I don't get to any of those things, it won't matter at all.

This is a picture of my kids literally destroying my to-do lists. I love being productive and having to show something for my time, so this is kind of a powerful image for me. No to-do lists. Just family, and space, and rest. And  a messier living room.

long days & short years.

This weekend I took the kids over to my parents house so that Alex could have a few quiet hours of  study, and also to give us something to do. My dad walked us down to the park by their house and we took turns holding Trixie and chasing Johnny.

While we were there a couple from the neighborhood, acquaintances of my parents, showed up with their own kids. My dad introduced us and because we both have young children we instantly had a million things to talk about. I mentioned that my husband has been in school for as long as we have been parents, that we have a little less than two years left, and that hopefully that time goes by quickly. One of other parents made the comment that in life with little kids the days are long, but the years are short.

My days this week have been very long. I'm taking my spring break. And by spring break I mean that I'm not teaching any piano lessons for a week. We're not going anywhere, and with temperatures in the 30's and snow flurries dotting the sky outside it certainly doesn't feel like spring. I don't have my usual babysitters and teaching time and so I feel even more cooped up than usual. It is very nice to not have to worry about making sure I have clean clothes on, and getting dinner ready before lunch time. But I wouldn't really call it a break. Just a change to my days. My very long days.

I'm having a little bit of trouble seeing the forest for the trees right now. I am trying so desperately to just make it through each day, because each day I make it through is one day closer to when Alex will be done with school. When I won't have to get kids ready for bed by myself, when we will be able to go on dates and do fun stuff as a family on the weekends, when I will get to pursue my hobbies a bit more. It feels like we're waiting for our life to start, that right now isn't our real life but some interim life, and each day checked off is just one day closer.

But actually, this- these very long, often very hard days- this is life. Sure, Trixie is teething and super fussy and needs to be held all day. And sure, Johnny pooped six times and threw a tantrum about every single food I tried to feed him. But he also gave Trixie about a dozen kisses this morning, and makes her laugh all the time. It's chaos, but it's also sweet. All this sweet chaos, this is my life, my mission, and my vocation, and if all I'm doing is trying to just get through it, I will miss it. And there's so much I don't want to miss right now.

Oh, and if it seems like I'm giving myself a lot of pep talks these days, it's because I am.

(Less than two years. I can do this.)