This promise will probably always be a work in progress. I resolve to keep doing the work. Mallika Chopra talks about the pull between mothers that go out of the home to work and those that quit the workforce to stay home. I feel the need to find balance in so many areas of our lives. Balance between work and home life, friends and family, me-time and a time for others, and most recently between focusing on the Down syndrome part of our worlds versus just focusing on you dear Quail.
There are many families that have parented a child that has Down syndrome before us. Since you have come along I’ve found out just how common it is. I’ve read about the families of Charles de Gaulle, Charles Darwin and Dr. William Sears. Dr Sears talks about both online and in his Baby Book about parents trying to find a balance between diving head first into the world of special needs and focusing their families life on that versus focusing just on their child and fitting their child into the mainstream of their families already existing life. I’m honestly still not sure where I fall with this balancing act to date. But I do know that we will continue to reexamine what you need, dear Quail, as well as what we all need individually at different times in our lives together. I intend to take my lead from you as you develop and show me what you need. I expect to sometimes speak for, sometimes with and sometimes- well- most of the time to let you speak for yourself. Our world is constantly changing, evolving and I hope improving in its acceptance and tolerance of issues that not everyone’s family faces. I know my mind has broadened just by virtue of you and your sister’s short but sweet lives. I thought I knew so much as I started compiling my parenting library before I’d even spent a day with either of you. Now in your dear presences I can see how much I still get to learn! I’m grateful you help me know that and are so forgiving as I try.
In the choice to work outside the home there are so many factors to consider as well. I always, always ache for more time with my family. I also know that work is a part of a healthy and productive life. I work not just so we have income and stability but also to show both of you little girls that we are each responsible for our own lives. While we work together as a family and we take care of each other- both your dad and I are strong, smart, independent and capable people who have strengths and gifts that we share with each other, you dear girls and our community and world at large. I see working as a privilege. I see especially in you; sweet Zuzu, how what I do- every little thing- sinks into your brain as you develop your worldview. I see it in how you talk, how you play, and how you respond to the routines in your life. Women have fought for centuries for choice in their lives. With every generation a little more has been achieved. I want to instill in both of you a sense of strong independence and capability. I want you both to feel capable of knowing and taking care of yourselves as adults. And for our family at this time that involves you both going to your little school while your Dad and I go to work. It is because we love you both so much that we live our lives this way. It is because we see ourselves as your role models and your world. I see how you have blossomed under the watchful of eye of your kind teachers dear Zuzu- how much you imitate what you see at home and at school. I listen to you chatter about your friends and your day and what you have learned already at such a young age- and I am so very proud. I want these same experiences for The Quail- I want her to have every opportunity that you have and I know that her being accepted and part of her community that she lives in begins early and with our providing the effort to make her a part of it.
Which brings me to the balancing act of friends and family. How much time we spend with just ourselves versus with those in the wonderful community in which we live and learn. We are so very blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives; both far and wide, in real life and on-line, in the town and region in which we live and all around the country and globe. Our family we were born into lives all over the country; in South Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Washington just to name a few. We are blessed to live in a time when air travel is able to take us to see them and bring them to us. We live in a time in which this is a natural part of the cycle of our year. It is so hard though- we want to share every holiday and special occasion with all of them and what we have to settle for is so infrequent. Fortunately as technology improves we are able to find new ways to keep in touch and know one another. In the same breath we want to establish family life, love and tradition in our own home- to create for ourselves the memories that your Dad and I cherish from our own dear childhoods- family trips, holidays, meals, gardens, routines as simple as watching a program or reading together.
And then of course there is finding the balance of me-time versus time for others- both friends, family and work time. I used to not feel such a need for it, but the more overloaded with tasks and activities I get the more I notice the need to know to know there is me-time on the horizon to do things like photos, read, watch TV, listen to radio shows, cook, plan our families future, dream, go out to eat, shop, go to the library, garden, take a lavender bath, play and talk to friends and family. I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to try to fit bits of these favorite activities into my already jam packed life. I have to find the balance between getting enough of a taste of time for me so that I look forward to more and don’t feel so guilty in doing it. So that I’m not neglecting the tasks that need to be done and the activities that I love. There has to be enough of a balance that I am able to have presence of mind- that I’m here present with my family and soaking in every minute and not thinking of what I still need or want to do and ending up not paying attention to what is right in front of me. As time goes on I find creative ways to do this. Ways like right now when I’m sitting at the computer in the early morning light thinking, smiling, watching the sun come up out of the office windows while I drink a cup of soy-milk coffee from the beans our dear Kathryn brought us with her recent visit to meet you girls. I can enjoy this precious moment because I know that we have a beautiful day ahead of us full of activity and fun. That in a few hours we’ll meet your friend Hayden and his mommy- who has become a dear friend to us; at the community pool so that we can get some exercise in our day before returning home to nap and cook for another group of precious friends- all friends who you girls know from our community. We’ll get adult time with the parents and you kidlets will get to play together. Of course the other thing that enables this fragile moment in the early morning light is the fact that as I type your Dad is sleeping in because he was up during the night feeding the Quail while I took a turn sleeping. The fact that one of you is up nursing with me now and the other is sleeping soundly. I know soon the nursing will finish, the heartbeats will stir and everyone will wake. The daily chaos of family life will begin to move us through our day- sometimes getting to do what we planned and sometimes breaking from that routine to do what is most pressing at the moment. That is also a balancing act that we work through daily. How to stay with the routine and how to be flexible with our plans and days.
I am so very blessed to have all of these things to balance in my life- from Dear Lovey who I share my daily blessing with so intimately, to you dear small ones, to the friendships that have blossomed both in real life and online in the last year to our devoted and steadfast families both near and far away. From the jobs we go to daily, to the plans we dream of. I promise to remain flexible and open as our families needs grow over the years we are blessed with and shift the balance in a way to continue to search for harmony in all of our lives together. I know what is right for our family now is not right for other families or even our own in the future. It is easy to just look for other peoples’ or cultures’ world view that validate your own. But my goal for us is to not judge others choices in how they live their loving family lives but to learn and grow and listen to our own collective family heart.