As you may have guessed, I am on vacation- the Fall semester ended on December 15th, and since I decided against taking intersession classes this winter, I am on break until January 23rd! In addition to having a ton of time off from school, I am also on a parenting vacation- that is, a vacation from single parenting. Luis has been staying with us since the 1st, and is likely going to relocate to our area permanently. While I do relish my independence and solitude, having him here has had a major influence on my productivity.
I’m going to intersperse pictures of J & C throughout the post to break up my babble, and also so you can see how freakin’ CUTE they are!
Having an extra set of hands to help out with J & C has shed some serious light on just how much I can accomplish in one day if I have a little help. Usually it’s just me, running around trying to work my way through a long list of daily responsibilities, 40% of which are usually foregone because there just isn’t enough time. At some point last semester I finally gave myself a break and admitted that much of what I wanted to accomplish would just never be, and I learned to be alright with that, thankful for what I could get done. Now, this week, I am amazed at the difference. There are definitely some compromises, but so far we’ve been able to work with one another and have found ourselves on agreeable terms.
Here are some things that I have been able to accomplish, on a daily basis, that I usually couldn’t fit into my daily schedule without help:
- RUNNING! (more on this in a minute…)
- cleaning the dishes after every meal
- doing laundry, from start to finish, in one evening
- writing this blog post
- reading Camus’s The Stranger cover-to-cover in a single evening (thanks, Ally!)
- much-needed “Liz time” with some good friends over lunch (okay, not a daily event, but still MAJOR)
- getting dressed in something other than Lulu leggings and a Devotion Tee
- showers (almost) every day!
- fresh juice every morning, and sometimes in the afternoon
- a healthy, balanced dinner every night for EVERYONE
Let me expand on this a bit, because I like to gush. Being able to get all of these things done (and more!) is a total game changer, and has me charmed. After having Carolyn, I was (and still am) very comfortable with only having two children. At this point, Jack is in the height of toddler-hood, and Carolyn is just beginning to leave her baby years behind. When Jack was her age, I was actively preparing for another baby, but this time around there’s no one coming behind Carolyn to keep me busy with baby stuff! Which means…I’m finally feeling like I can get back to ME, myself, that person that used to be the one and only priority in my life. I think it’s healthy, actually, for moms to take the first year of their child’s life and commit themselves to motherhood, fully and completely. Live in yoga clothes, eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and get behind on the laundry- whatever! Though, now that my children are both gaining a sense of independence, I feel like I have a bit of freedom to reclaim some of my own.
I know it’s super-cheesy, but I do see the start of a new year as a fresh start for myself. My intention for this year is to put a bit more energy into cultivating my own interests- in particular, fitness, wellness, spending more time with my best friends independently, and reading. So far (12 days in- ha!), I have been keeping a pretty comfortable balance.
I have been running every. single. day. This has been the most important and influential change so far- my skin has actually gotten clearer, I have boundless energy throughout the day, and mentally I am much calmer. I have been slowly increasing my mileage each day, and though it’s been incredibly tough, it also feels good to push my body’s limits. I’m finding myself physically craving my daily run, which makes me feel like a runner again. We’ve also been taking long walks around Newtown, about 2 miles, every other day.
I have also been putting together delicious, balanced meals for the kids and myself. Having Luis around means I have time to plan out what I want to cook, and get it done from start to finish- no more giving up on half-cooked dinners because one or both of the kids is having a fit! I am proud to say that meals have been on the table by 6:30 every night, and the mess totally cleaned up by 9. I also managed to cut all sugar (except raw honey) out of our diet for the past ten days. I didn’t really know what to expect, since I have such a sweet tooth, but it’s actually been a wonderful change. Here are some examples of things we’ve been enjoying:
hemp bagels with avocado, mustard greens, fried Milk House eggs, coconut milk yogurt, and a berry-banana smoothie.
roasted butternut squash, roasted potatoes, sauteed green beans, and grilled spice-crusted tofu.
making our own almond milk- exciting and delicious!
barbecue tofu and steamed mustard greens.
muesli with almond milk and a big bowl of pomegranate seeds.
I can’t emphasize how much better I’m feeling now that we’re on a better schedule and more focused on eating well. It is so easy to fall into a rut with food, especially with young children to care for, but at some point I had to pull myself out of it, start paying better attention, and really fine-tune our habits. I have two very important people depending on me to teach them how to best take care of themselves, and I don’t want to let them down 🙂
I have also been spending quality time with some very good friends at our favorite restaurant/Newtown institution- Isaac’s! I had the pleasure of meeting a number of old friends there for drinks a few days before Christmas, as well as a lunch with another good friend. And an afternoon playing Cards Against Humanity. And a lunch with high school besties and a new baby. And a very special lunch in New York. All things that nourish my soul 🙂
Finally, I’ve been getting back into reading. In my single days, I would devour books. I would read anything, I felt as though I could never get enough of the written word. Since having children, that has taken a back seat, in a big way- and I’m not okay with that anymore. I pulled a few books that I’d like to finish reading, stacked them beside my bed, and have been working my way through them over the past few weeks. It’s slow going, because I also have about 15 books to read before this semester starts, but I am happy to report I’ve been able to get through two whole books. I think that’s a fair accomplishment 🙂
So that, in a (rather wordy) nutshell, is how my year has unfolded thus far. I am anxious to get back to school, back to a routine, and back to the pressures of academic writing, but I am also trying to remind myself to savor these long, often wistfully aimless days, because they are indeed numbered. I am going to try to be more regular with updating here, especially now that I’ve told you all about the extra time I have, and I hope this new year has been as refreshing and inspiring for everyone else as it has been for us 🙂