It all changes once you become a parent. My husband and I were reminiscing about life pre-kids, about waking late on a Saturday morning, the day stretching out lazily before you, a swath of possibility you could either fill with football and shopping and friends and workouts and restaurants, or absolute glorious nothing, as you saw fit.
Here's how your Saturday goes once you are a parent: My Oldest woke at 4am this morning, got me up, then got me up again a half hour later, and then the dog joined in the party about an hour after that. Then everyone gets up at 6:30am and you are launched out of the cannon that is Life With Young Children into a packed schedule of Frantically Trying to Drain All That Energy OMG Where Does It Come From.
The thing is, I'm ok with it. I really love my kids and my job right now is to take care of them and I want nothing more than to make them happy. But it does make me wistful.
I recently read this book by Amy Wilson, which I enjoyed and much of which I related to my own life.
It's a good book, and I plan to send it on to some of my friends. Strangely, though, the book was not the source of inspiration I expected. Rather, it triggered a potent case of doubt and second-guessing myself. Not because of the writing, but because of the author.
Amy Wilson is an actress living in New York City with her husband and three children. She still does acting work, has developed a one-woman show of her own that tours around the country, has written one book and is working on her second.
This is exactly the life I wanted. That part of me still wants. But not exactly the life I am living.
Most of the time, I am at peace with the choices I've made. I've made them deliberately and carefully, out of love and concern for my family as well as myself. But I am not an actress in NYC with a successful career, 3 kids, and a published author. And I would like to be all of those things.
Rather than envy and defeat I should try to find the inspiration in this: If she can do it, so can I! sort of thing. But instead I am second-guessing my choices, and wondering in a tiny voice.....did I make a mistake?
Everyone's life journey is different and mine has brought me here. And it is a good life. A very good life. I have a terrific husband, two beautiful, vibrant children, a sweet, goofy puppy, and a lovely house not far from most of my family. I am blessed.
I think what this bout of self-doubt shows is that I lack direction. I need to stop dwelling on who I was and figure out who I want to be now and then I need to take action. Easier said than done. Which is a cliche more recognizable than I've Been Saying That For a While Now But Still Haven't Figured Anything Out.
Just like those Saturday mornings we were remembering, it's easy to coat your past in a golden sheen of perfection, to long for what used to be, to focus on the freedom and success and ease. It's less comfortable to be in the hard work of early mornings and incessant demands and long-term goals.
I don't know what I want to do exactly, besides raise my children. I spent my whole life becoming an actress and a dancer, and that's not who I am anymore. So I have to decide what my next chapter is going to be and then do that. There are many possibilities, but I'm uncertain where my next passion lies.
I used to judge my day's successes by how my audition went, how much money I earned, how well I danced that day, how many resumes I sent out. Now my successes are not yelling at my kids, remembering to buy more wipes, getting the dog to the vet, ordering the waterproof stickers for their clothes and school items, and maybe making it to the gym. Not as impressive a roster, although arguably more important in the long run. The victories are small.
It's finally updating your equipment to stream Netflix instead of having to be on the DVD program.
It's watching your daughter conquer her fear and learn quite suddenly how to swim underwater.
It's sleeping until 7am.
It's not a published book or a Broadway show or a fat paycheck.
At least not yet.