Monday, October 5, 2009

10.05.2009 -- P.S.P.P. (Post Script to the Preceding Post)

The subject I wrote about below is absolutely not as simple as I make it out to be--not for me, anyway. I try to simplify things to make them semi-readable and to give more order to my thoughts (for myself).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

10.04.2009 -- Used To Be

Gabe with Nicole at the SUU vs. SDSU women's volleyball game.
(No disrespect to the guy behind these two, but he's the real star of this photo, no??)

Yesterday I drove to Cedar City with some of my family: Sisters-in-law and nieces. The point of the trip was to see Fiona Jones play volleyball. Don't know Fiona Jones? Shame on you.

More explanation.

I married into a wonderful family. Among many qualities in the Tayler family is a remarkable athleticism. My sister-in-law, Elizabeth, has developed this more than some of my other in-laws. She was a college runner. Combine that with my brother-in-law Fotu's talents, which he put into football--and you get some kids, my nieces and nephews, who have serious skills. I know that I'm biased. I'm proud--of each of my nephews and all of my nieces. I think they're amazing. Nicole and Mariah happen to be the oldest of this group.

I've written about Nicole and Mariah before on my blog, about seeing them play at the Junior Olympics, I think. Well, Miss Fiona Jones was one of their teammates. She now plays for South Dakota State University. She's a Freshman, but is a starter and played every second of the game gainst SUU (SDSU won). Fiona and I are not best friends--wrong generation, for starters--but I like the girl, like to support her, and really, really like watching volleyball. (Watch it.)

The road trip to Cedar City was an opportunity for me to spend time with friends (er, family--no wait, people I love!), watch volleyball and do something different. Plus, I knew that even with Gabe it would be a fun trip for me because in the Tayler family, the baby belongs to everyone, not just the parents.

Before getting on the road, the thought had crossed my mind that I hadn't spent time in Cedar City for a long, long time. I spent my first two years of college there and haven't been back more than a handful of times since, but I didn't go into the trip thinking that it would be a chance to revisit old college stomping grounds.

We piled into my car and drove straight through to the Centrum in Cedar City--which is SUU's indoor sports arena. We parked and went inside, but only after goofing around in the veranda outside with some of the statues. (It turns out that it's probably pretty normal for 18 year-old girls to think the statues are more silly than inspiring. The statue of William Shakespeare in his balloon shorts made my nieces giggle and break out the camera, which made me remember a similar reaction from myself years ago.)

Inside the building, just seeing some of the classroom doors brought back entire swaths of memories.

It made me feel like I used to be somebody.

I used to be an artist--respectable drawer, at least. I used to be a writer, or at least someone who got published once upon a time. I used to be an athlete--sort of. I used to be a very good student.

And now I'm a mom.

Depressing? Sure. A little. A little amazing, too. And thought provoking.

Most, if not all of my peers--women in my neighborhood--are in the same boat. (I think it's similar for men, but in this particular sweeping generalization, I'm going to leave the men out.)

I'm surrounded by has-beens.

Women who have been accomplished dancers, artists, athletes and dedicated minds have put these parts of themselves largely on-hold in order to raise families.

This is one of the things that makes staying at home with kids difficult sometimes. No test scores or GPA to brag about, no awards, no quarterly reviews with raises or bonuses. No promotions, unless you count grandmother. Only a momentarily clean house, baby-steps in toilet training, and the adoration of children--which can be fleeting.

I'm not trying to complain here. Just to explain.

I couldn't complain, because being a mother, giving most of myself over to my family life, is worth it to me. I never really knew how to feel when I heard women say that their kids were their best friends, but I understand a lot better now. I truly love to spend time with my kids. There are a lot of difficult moments and some of those moments stretch into days or weeks (if I'm being honest), but it's worth it. It is fascinating to me to watch them grow. And I grow. And I love their guts.

After growing up in a system where success is only success if it's noticed and published, or at least measurable--it can be hard to find motivation through the hard spots of stay-at-home parenting. My motivation comes from a few different sources, but it's mainly this: I try to remember that this is what I chose, and that it won't last forever. The kids will grow up. I will have time for myself again.

I keep learning that there is an important balance that needs to be struck between completely losing myself in/to my family and taking time for myself. Blogging is one thing that I can justify both ways. It gives me access to my adult brain, and it's a journal of sorts for our family.

Ideally, I would not have to re-learn this lesson. Ideally, I would schedule time for myself regularly and take it seriously enough to make it a priority. But it IS something I keep forgetting. I find myself stretching myself to a point where my patience is very thin--even transparent. In the long run, maybe this will end up making me more patient...maybe not.

The first order of business in finding this happy medium, the way I see it, is more organization in the way I run our home. I have a lot of work to do. I don't want to wait until I'm perfectly organized and scheduled to make better use of time for myself (it would never happen), but I do think it's important that I move in that direction. Then again, using my time better sounds like so much work...Maybe there's some other way.

Quarterly goals? Evaluations? Grades? Awards? Hmmmm. Awards!

  • "Best Pre-school Writing Educator"
  • "The AEFM: Award for Excellence in Facilities Maintenance"
  • "Outstanding Work in Facilitation of Large Motor-Skill Acquisition"
  • "Building a strong, trusting and mutually respectful relationship with your children: A"
  • "The 'What is There to Eat?' Award: In recognition of and appreciation for your efforts to provide a tasty, economical, and nutritionally-sound diet for your family."