I've been continuing to struggle with the same work/life balance issue ever since I returned home from Indiana two months ago: how do I find any time at all for my early morning writing and walking while living with a beloved little girl who tends to wake up VERY VERY EARLY - while one of her parents has left for work well before dawn and the other is zonked out exhausted after a night of sleep interrupted from bouts of nursing?
I still have no good solution except to note that the earlier I get up, the better the day goes. Plus, sometimes willful toddlers don't get their own way and have a good ol' tantrum about it, and that's okay. And sometimes, I learned recently, I don't get my own way - and the results can quite wonderful.
The other day Kataleya got up just as I was about to leave at 5:30 a.m. for my cherished hour-long walk with poor little Tanky the dog who lives for our outings. (In houses with new babies, older siblings aren't the only ones temporarily dethroned). But there Kat was, doing what she always does whenever I prepare to leave the house: running to get her shoes, as if they were some magical talisman to ensure that she can come, too. "Shoes on! Shoes on!" she wailed inconsolably.
Oh, well. Often I come up with some excuse she will accept: Mimsie has to go to work, Mimsie has to go to that mysterious thing called "a meeting." This time, I sighed, loaded child and dog into the car, and drove down to Viele Lake. Because this time, I had something splendid to share with her: goats!!!
The city of Boulder has decided to control noxious weeds on public lands not with environmentally toxic herbicides but with a traveling herd of goats accompanied by a guard llama. They are currently down by the lake in the park where I walk, behind an electric fence just a foot or so away from the yellow-net fence beside the path for cyclists, pedestrians, and their companion animals,
What a magical half hour the three of us had, in that crisp, cool dawn air, so close to two dozen goats that we could practically reach out to touch them.
I didn't get a proper walk that day. I missed getting it desperately. Those of us with Fitbits hate sacrificing any chance for steps!! But I shared sweet companionship with an enthralled toddler. (And don't you love the purse?)
Before she became an acclaimed novelist, Elizabeth Berg was a frequenter contributor of personal essays to the women's magazines I love to read. I still remember one from decades ago. She wrote about attending an elementary school music program and looking at her watch to make sure she wouldn't be trapped there for too long. Then she had a revelation: if she didn't have time to hear little children playing Mozart, what more important thing did she have time for? Her answer: nothing.
Ditto for spending the first, best hour of the day with a two-year-old and a flock of hungry goats.