Writing, parenting and choosing the life we want

I’ve been getting flak about my lack of posts. I apologize. The pace of our life has been lazy and meandering of late, and while I have been writing, it’s been for my warehouse magazine gig, or on my book about our road trip when April was little.

Getting back to my book feels great. One of the worst things about choosing writing as a career is that it’s a path filled with obstacles, a journey often mired in self-doubt. While I know I’m a good writer, especially when I work hard at it, I also have days when I feel like I’m just never going to get it done. My writing mentor once told me not to be a “dabbler.” Unfortunately, it’s in my nature. I love writing and dancing and yoga and pottery and reading and films and photography and…unfortunately I have a tendency to start projects and never complete them. And yes, I know that I’m not alone. A lot of creative people start projects they never finish. But, I would love to see this particular one through before moving onto the next (or going back to another unfinished one!)

So that’s what’s been occupying my free moments. And in truth, there aren’t too many of those.

Charlie is asleep upstairs and Josh is out. April is at school and the sun is shining, a cool breeze blowing in through balcony door. We live close enough to the ocean that I can hear the hush of the surf as it rhythmically laps at the sand. The sky is cloudless, although it’s hazy across the bay, so I can’t see the mountains on the other side.

We’ve decided that we would like to live here part-time. One of the choices Josh and I made was to have the flexibility to pick up and move when we want to. While many jobs are transferrable, most people have to stay in one place for at least a couple of years to see any advancement in their careers. We don’t have those types of careers. Josh can cook anywhere, and after the past two years of insane hours, he’s determined to choose lifestyle over work. He wants to sail. I want to write. Whether that means contract jobs between creative spells or taking other part-time work, or even teaching a semester here and there, or starting a business that can work on both sides of the world, it’s what we want. Pitching articles to magazines and newspapers is a gruelling business, disheartening at times. I’ll keep at it but it’s really books that I want to write. So I just have to stick with it.

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times a few days ago in which the former CFO of Lehman Brothers, Erin Callahan, confesses to having worked too hard, to the detriment of her life outside work. While she had a career that many young women would aspire to, there were many sacrifices made that she looks back on and questions. She admits that “I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short. I was talented, intelligent and energetic. It didn’t have to be so extreme.” Unfortunately, I think that many people of our generation feel that unless they give their all to their job, they won’t succeed. We have a culture of work that can never be satisfied. You can always do better, work harder, put more of yourself into it. The article made me feel good about my choices. I’ve always wanted to be awesome at what I do, but I don’t want to sacrifice my home life for a job. Watching my kids get bigger, and taking this time to be together as a family confirms this.

April, who is two weeks away from being four, now has a little posse of friends who live in the building. The four little girls play all afternoon and evening. There are often tears when we call April in or send her friends home. The darkening sky is her curfew but before the sun sets I sometimes stand on the balcony watching the kids running around in the lane way below, shrieking and riding bikes and scooters, dancing and skipping and inventing complex games that I’m too far away to follow.

Charlie is getting bigger by the day. She now weighs 9kg — around 20lbs — which is as much as April weighed when she was two. She’s a determined little mover and spends much of her waking time dragging herself around or pushing herself up from pushup position to seated, screaming with the effort, but then looking awfully pleased with herself once erect. Everything goes straight into her mouth, and while with April we had a nice long honeymoon (she didn’t crawl until 9 months), I have a feeling that Charlie is going to be mobile within the next few weeks. Oy. Crawling by seven months. Does that mean walking by nine?

All in all, life is great. There are ups and downs — we’re all getting sick, and the occasional sleepless night never helps — but overall, we’re happy and healthy and really living our lives. I know that life won’t always be like this. I’m trying my best to be present and enjoy the moment. Planning for the future is something I’ve always done by default, but for once I feel that I need to let go and just see what happens. Whatever it is will be just fine.

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