Before I gave birth to my baby five months ago, I knew my life was poised to change in dramatic ways, many of which could not be anticipated. I just had to wait and see what the changes would be and how they would reveal themselves. I assumed there would be a lack of sleep, changes in my marriage, and an immense amount of love. Most new parents probably go through this same experience. During pregnancy you read all the books, listen to advice from countless friends and relatives, and then wait to see how the pieces of your life rearrange themselves after this new person enters/explodes your world.
The lack of personal time has probably been the biggest adjustment for me. Being a person with perpetual projects, ongoing plans, and endless to-do lists, I was not exactly prepared for how much one little being could thwart my life off course. For example, I have been planning to plant the winter crop for the last three weekends. And just how many seeds do you think I’ve actually planted? You guessed it. Exactly zero. In order to avoid feelings of frustration or resentment, I’ve been trying to cultivate a new regard for time and accomplishment. Maybe the “right” time for planting the seeds was not, in fact, September 1st. Maybe the “right” and perfect time is actually late in the evening on September 29th, and not a moment sooner. How am I to know? Because truthfully I am not the one who moves the stars and the heavens, even though I sometimes like to think I am.
In order to carve out a bit of time and space for myself, I’ve had to get creative. While I may rarely (if ever) have an hour to devote solely to my personal projects, I can usually find ten or fifteen minutes. Lately these magical minutes have revealed themselves right before the start of my shift at work and also during my lunch break. I used to habitually arrive at work at least fifteen minutes early, secretly hoping my boss was giving me brownie points for doing so. Guess what? Neither she, nor anyone else I worked with, noticed. So instead of giving my workplace those precious (unpaid) minutes, I now utilize them for myself. Sometimes I read a book in my car. Or make a long overdue phone call to a friend. Mostly though, I take a walk.
Before having my baby, I walked for one sole purpose: to stay in shape. But recently my strides have switched to meanders. I don’t so much walk as I do wander. I’m not worried about making my body strong: I know my body is strong. It birthed a human, after all. I used to count laps at the park to track my miles. From time to time I even wore a pedometer to keep a record of how many steps I was taking. But I don’t do that anymore. It’s not about how many times around the park I can clock before work starts. It’s more about doing nothing, actually. Well, doing nothing while my feet are moving. (Although sometimes I take pictures of plants or interesting insects.) Often I make it only half way around the block before I decide I just want to sit down. So I find some grass and sit. It’s my time so I do what I want.
Today at lunch I decided to go to the park, even though I had planned to do the grocery shopping on my break. Oh well, I thought, there is still food in the pantry. There is bread in the fridge. We’ll survive another day (or two.) What I really needed was to not be inside a building. To be out in the sun. To claim a few minutes solely for myself. So I took some pictures, inspected the contents of a seed pod, found a pine cone nestled in tall grass, and foraged for some dandelion greens. If I focus my attention on the trajectory of life, there is time enough for everything. I don’t have to fight it, or worry about it. Even if I only have fifteen minutes, I can live deeply inside that fifteen minutes and experience it fully.
The lovely dandelion greens inspired me to make another pizza. I started with a triangle of garlic naan (Indian flatbread). From the garden I plucked some raindlow chard and basil. I also found a crookneck squash. In the back of the fridge was some sliced mushrooms and a ball of abandoned mozzarella. A little tomato sauce went on the naan, followed by the greens, vegetables, and cheese. I baked the pizza in the oven at 375 degress for ten minutes. A great meal to end a great day.