I have been thinking about this childraising/time to yourself/something for yourself conundrum.
And thinking...and thinking.
I think that there are different times in one's life that offer unique experiences perfectly suited towards growing in various ways. Every phases of life presents both obstacles and opportunities.
For instance, when I stopped working and started a family, I decided that the new phase of my life would be a perfect time to explore my more creative side. That side I had had little time for really, between school and work and then more work. Even the writing I did get to do at the wine magazine was very constricted and uncreative due to the editorial content. I had never had a real opportunity to discover my voice, or my creativity.
I thought motherhood would present the perfect opportunity for reclaiming my more artistic side. That being creative with my children, seeing through their eyes, and experiencing their unstructured concept of time would reconnect me to my innate creativity that dwelt, I intuited, in a more playful part of myself long buried.
But I found myself instead putting my old attitudes into my new life. Trying to structure time too precisely, or letting it go entirely. Never really enjoying the moment because now I was focused on a new to-do list that never ended. The list may have changed, but my attitude had not: grimly going down a to-do list or worrying about the lack of order in my life and overcompensating. And still, fun and creativity coming last, if at all.
I thought what a perfect opportunity to finally do what I had always wanted to do: become a writer. Hopefully make that my new career. But I find myself, day after day, filling my time first with my hopelessly mundane, and certainly un-fun, "to-do" list.
So I have decided, in all of this thinking, that my wish to become a writer will never happen unless I do it, every day. As though I am already a writer, treat it as a career, as a job, and hopefully, in so doing, it will become just that: a job and a career.
In order to do that, I am going to start putting myself first, literally, in the morning. By putting writing first in my day, I will always do it. I will structure my time, but not confine myself either, blending the lessons of flexibility and fluidity that motherhood has taught me with my older, more rigid attitudes about life and work. My focus will be less on perfection and more on production. Making writing a regular part of my life, on a daily basis. A consistent, regular mental purging, if you will.
I think I will be able to relax and enjoy the rest of my life more, knowing that I am taking care of myself as well as my home and family. If you lose yourself, you have nothing to give. It is that elusive balance of maintaining oneself in the face of life's demands, a paradox no one is immune to and a balance everyone requires. Here is to each of us finding our paths and, most importantly, walking them.