One of the things I struggle with expressing on the blog is complexity. Seldom is a personal challenge in a silo all by itself- it usually overlaps in rings across many other events, desires, and anxieties; both past and present. But one of my goals this year on the blog was to get more of myself out there, and not just hide behind the knitting all the time. So, here we go…
For the last 12 years, I’ve lived in Toronto. If you haven’t been to Toronto, it is the biggest city in Canada- 2.6 million people live there. It’s noisy, densely packed with condos and cafes and restaurants and everyone always complains about the subway and the cost of housing, and I love it. You know how people talk about how depressing it is when November rolls around and it’s dark by 5 p.m.? In Toronto, the city lights are all so beautiful it reminds me of how exciting it is to go out at night. It reminds me of how I felt when I moved here when I was 20 years old – like anything was possible. Like I could be anyone. I think a lot of cities feel that way, it’s why so many people move to them. That feeling of your own potential is so palpable, so rich, it’s how I fed my younger self when exorbitant rent left me scrimping on groceries.
That feeling of anything’s possible is still addictive for me. I love the yarn before the project is cast on, I love the book before it’s read, I love the poem or the story before it’s written. I love them best in that state, even if I’m really thrilled with the finished results. And it’s that feeling that keeps me motivated. Even now, when I’m 7 years married and have my two kids, and view being on maternity leave as a fun time to try pushing harder on some side projects. Because when you are the kind of person that wants to do it all, possibility really does make everything look fantastic.
Until you start, that is.
Months ago, I decided I was going to take Lila out of daycare at the end of June and have July and August with both her and James, before Lila begins junior kindergarten in the fall. I planned on taking the kids up north to Sudbury so that they could spend time with one set of grandparents. We’re planning on visiting the other set of grandparents at the beginning of August, and then taking a big family trip to England (and Spain – because adding in an extra timezone/flight/hotel/language while travelling with little kids… why not??). I thought it would be great to spend this time together, and it would all magically work out. We’d go to the zoo! Draw with sidewalk chalk! Splash in the splash pad at the park every day!
Except Lila is struggling. She misses her friends at daycare, the regular exposure to her peer group. She asks me about daycare and her friends almost every day. She’s excited about kindergarten, but it’s still a long time away for her. I sat her down with a calendar and tried to explain the fun things we would be doing … she seems to still think that she will get to see all her daycare friends the way she used to. But daycare in Toronto is a tricky thing. It’s hard work to get it, and once you leave it, there’s no going back to the same group or room- some other kid on a wait list has already taken that place. It’s not as simple as calling back and saying, oops, sorry- I was wrong. Please take my kid back. I’ve been booking play dates like a madwoman, and working really hard to keep her occupied at all times, otherwise she just wants to watch TV. We go outside a lot, but then poor little James (second babies, they have it rough) is forced to piece together naps in his stroller and isn’t getting the time and attention he deserves. Stay at home moms- how do you DO this???
On top of that, I have spread myself a bit thin on the project front. There is just so much I want to do (I know I’m being vague, but I’m not ready to talk about all my projects at the moment) and I’m
crazy optimistic enough to believe that it’s going to work. That Tina Fey quote – ‘Say yes and figure it out later.’ – is practically the creed I live by. Some of the things I’ve been working on: finishing my second poetry manuscript (just reviewed the final proof last week), starting to write a novel, and helping Guy set up his own business, all while looking after baby James (I’m still on maternity leave until November). Each of those could be several blog posts long in their own right, I have so much to say about each of them. So it was not my brightest moment, deciding to take Lila out of daycare to join what is clearly the circus of my days. You probably noticed how quite the blog has been- it’s not for lack of ideas, but a sheer lack of hours in the day.
When I was still in Sudbury at the beginning of July, faltering, falling short on things that I so badly wanted to pull off, Lila clearly miserable; I was talking to my family about it. Their perfectly reasonable reaction was, You have too much on your plate. You have to let some stuff go in order to focus on what’s most important.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this viewpoint. But I think that if I really was ready to let some things go, I’d have that feeling of recognition wash over me afterwards. You know how people say, I knew it all along but needed someone else to point it out? Yeah, that didn’t happen to me. If you are a workaholic with multiple side projects that are all about your passions, it literally doesn’t compute. I called Guy, who said the total opposite (maybe because he was still in the city, which has that take-it-all-on rhythm) “So you need to figure it out. This is what you wanted, and we need to figure out a way for it all to work out. Let’s talk about how we can move things around to get the pieces to fit.” And while we didn’t totally solve it, I came away from the conversation feeling better. Because when you love doing a lot of things, letting any of them go feels like heartbreak.
We’re all back together in Toronto again. I’ve figured out a schedule that is pretty exhausting and includes some relief daytime babysitting a few times a week with our beloved (and thankfully on summer break) babysitter, but at least I’m getting things done and trying to give my kids a wonderful summer. I think Lila actually views our babysitter as a friend, so it might even count as a play date.
I’m still doing too much. It still doesn’t feel like even half the things I want to do. But sometimes, sometimes I’m getting it right:
(side note- Lila’s got a new pair of glasses and I think they fit her a lot better!). For those of you familiar with my Instagram, you probably already saw the gigantic flamingo and doughnut:
And here is a 20-second video I filmed of my mom, Lila and Guy having a water gun fight, with Lila advising my mom to hide under the tree: