Lesson Learned

This is day 17 of the Reverb10 project.

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

How fitting that this is the prompt for today…the day Mila was born.

Ten years ago when I had Jack, I was single mother who worked full-time. I didn’t have a choice to stay home, but had the universe presented different circumstances, I would have preferred to work part-time 25-30 hours per week. I probably would have spent five extra hours with my son a week because I was in grad school too and could have used an extra 5-10 hours a week for homework. This would have led to much more than the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I survived on during this time.

I honestly don’t know how I did it. But, I didn’t know any different, so it was normal to me.

Hard? Yes. But, normal too.

This time, a rather unfortunate set of circumstances created an opportunity for me to be home with Mila full-time except for the one or two classes I teach in the Spring at the community college.

I was worried about this prospect.

In fact, I have stated since well before Jack was born that I wasn’t built in the way that some people are. The way that leads some people to feel like they are doing exactly what they should be doing when they are home caring for their children.

That isn’t me.

Don’t get me wrong. I take great pleasure (and exhaustion) from cooking and baking for my family. I did that while I was working every single night though because I feel it is incredibly important to feed them food that isn’t highly processed.

But, I didn’t take great pleasure caring for my baby and my school-age son.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my children. I just don’t happen to believe that I need to (nor do I want to) spend nearly all my time with them to raise them right.

I took great pleasure in the fact that my son knew I was there in the morning before school and that I would be there after school.

I took great pleasure that Mila’s routine was the same everyday and that she knew exactly what to expect.

But the monotony.  Good grief, the monotony.

It could have been the baby…boob, sleep, poop, boob, sleep, poop.

But this book changed my whole perspective.

I read it in June because I was planning a Blessing Ceremony for Mila with a Unitarian Minister. Knowing Robert Fulghum was a Unitarian Minister, a dear friend recommended I see if he’d written anything relevant.

At my local library, sitting on the shelf, looking all dusty were these books. This one was written specifically for me at this moment in my life.

It was a moment that the monotony was overtaking the meaning.

And, it spoke to me.

It said specifically that the things we do the same EVERY SINGLE DAY, hundreds or thousands of times, in our lives are the rituals of our life. Yes, there are the blessings, the funerals, the milestones along the way.

But, to the baby

lying on its back

10 or 12 times a day

for a diaper change,

THESE are meaningful rituals of his or her life. Looking up and seeing a familiar face while the diaper is changed is what that baby knows and feels.

I kid you NOT. It said that.

And, suddenly, meaning began overtaking the monotony.

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