I have two wonderful children and a wonderful husband. After years of living on different continents, I now live close to my parents, which makes it possible for them to get to know their grand kids. I have a full time job that is intellectually stimulating and keeps me learning something new every day. This job allows me to have my evenings and weekends free. When I get home and sit with my kids on my lap, snuggling them and breathing them in – I am in heaven – and I know that I am a very lucky lady.
Photo: D. M. Buehler
But having what you want can mean having no time to enjoy what you have.
Like most working parents, having weekends “free” means using weekends to do the cleaning, the laundry, the groceries, the cooking for the week, the visits to the grandparents, and the squeezing in of swimming lessons. Weekends are more exhausting than weekdays! And then there are those “free” evenings. After racing home to spend time with the kids, feeding them, putting them to bed and doing a mountain of dishes, I sit down at 10 pm to try to write up my research. No one forces me to work in the evenings. It is not in my job description. But I feel a responsibility, to my colleagues, to my funders and to myself. What makes this ironic is that I recently made a career adjustment in part to escape an unspoken but unyielding pressure to work nights and weekends.
It would seem that I cannot escape myself.
So I need to be mindful. When I am literally falling asleep in front of the computer late at night, when it takes weeks to kick a spring cold, when I am too busy rushing around to enjoy my truly wonderful life, then it is time to slow down.
It doesn’t take much: stopping to be mindful of the sun on my child’s hair, noticing the delicate beauty of the flowers in the courtyard where we live, taking an evening to do yoga and get immersed in a novel after the kids are asleep.