The following piece was submitted recently to The Simply Stated Blogger Contest for Real Simple magazine in response to the question: What was the most difficult thing you had to give up in order to balance your schedule? It wasn’t selected as a finalist (sniff, sniff); on the upside, though, I am now free to share it with you here.
The late 1980s were a blur of lazy weekends curled up on a favorite chair or under the shade of umbrella with Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Edith Wharton, and Alice Walker. The early ‘90s brought a job, an income, and the ability to traipse to the latest independent film, museum installation, or Broadway play. Feeding my intellect—if not my stomach at any variety of Indian, Ethiopian, or Lebanese restaurants—was de rigueur. I craved creative pursuits—gardening, knitting, interior design.
But I was a hedonist with a longing—the desire to parent. And in 2004, with the arrival of our first son, I experienced an entirely new set of rhythms, and it became quickly apparent that my literary masters and weekend getaways were going to have to wait patiently in the wings; my garden would have to make room for sandboxes and seesaws; and any interior design would have to take the form of touching up paint chips courtesy of wayward Matchbox cars.
Today I have three beautiful boys, two dogs, a full-time job, and a host of avocations. And while life looks nothing like it did in decades past, I accede wholeheartedly that it shouldn’t. I get up an hour before my family every day. Significant cooking is done on Sundays for the week. Grocery-shopping is accomplished in 18-minute clips of free time between when I get out of work and when I pick up my children from school. I am committed to two loads of laundry a day as opposed to ten on the weekends.
These small time-savers that I have learned to integrate over the last eight years have revealed possibilities—a monthly book club, the occasional date night, time to write, and a mother who is able to be herself.