Living the dream

I saw a video the other day, currently making the rounds on Facebook, that quoted Alan Watts.  It was an audio recording over a variety of pretty, generic images, but the basic point was, don’t chase what will make money, because all that will lead to is the chase of more money.  Instead, do what you love, what you’re passionate about, what you would fill your time with if money were no object.  It’s a great, philosophical snippet, and (I think) pretty wise.  Watching the video, I reflected on my life and situation . . . and I realized that I have the incredibly good fortune to be doing precisely what I want to be doing.  I am living the life I would live if money were no object.  And that’s pretty amazing.

If I became independently wealthy tomorrow, I would do 3 things differently.  I would fly home more often — I would never let more than a couple of months go by without visiting home and being with my family and friends.  I would consider moving my horses here from the US, and in the case that it wasn’t a good idea (for their health or sanity) I would find a way to ride here in Vienna.  I would go out to eat more often, and I would give Jo free rein to make whatever she wanted when she cooks.  But that’s pretty much it.

I am incredibly lucky and I think it’s pretty great.  Even given infinite resources, I’d still live in Austria.  I’d still have B in his current kindergarten, and I’d still have Liam home with me.  I’d live where I live, I’d still choose not to have a car, and (other than going home more often and/or flying my family over to visit) I’d travel to the same places we travel to, and in much the same way.  (Ok, if money were really no issue, I guess I’d fly first class.)

How cool is that?!?  I’m living the life I’d like to be living.  Right now.  That doesn’t (at all) mean that my life is perfect, but having that realization gives me great perspective.  When Liam’s 2 minute “time out” turns into a 40 minute ordeal, when Benjamin’s chocolate milk ends up all over the floor, when my alarm goes off after a night of not-so-restful broken sleep, when I can’t seem to find the time to exercise, shower and clean the house all in the same day, it helps me to remember that, even with all of the craziness that this life entails sometimes, this is the life that I would choose, given any option.  I choose it knowing that it involves difficult moments, sleepless nights and seemingly unending frustrations.  I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.  This is exactly what I want to be doing, and I get to do it, every single day.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Tomorrow, everything changes

For over three years, I’ve been a “stay at home” mom.  Tomorrow, for the first time, one of my children will be in daycare.  Sure, it’s more appropriately preschool (kindergarten, here) than daycare, and it’s only 4 hours a day, but it doesn’t change the reality of it.  Benjamin starts school tomorrow.  It’s not like I’ve been with them both 24/7 since their births:  I did work a few hours a week at home, I go out and do things from time to time, I even came to Austria for 4 days when Benjamin was only 18 months old, and, of course, I was in the hospital when Liam was born (and for days after, since he was in the NICU) — and thus, away from Benjamin.

This feels so different.  For 50% of his waking hours, five days a week, he will be in someone else’s care.  That “someone else” isn’t my mom, or Dan, or a trusted friend.  It isn’t for an hour, or for a special occasion.  These people are strangers to us (although I know they won’t be for long) and this will be our every day routine.  My baby is leaving the nest for the first time — he goes out in to the world to interact with its other inhabitants without my constant supervision.  He will experience things I’ve protected him from and the flaws in my parenting will be exposed.  The other kids may not be nice to him all the time, he may experience the pain of being left out, not liked or teased.  Whatever manners and good behavior he has managed to pick up will show, as will the places I’ve not quite armed him with enough.

I know that this is just preschool, and that he isn’t expected to be perfectly polite or well behaved all the time.  I also know that the hurts he receives from his classmates will not only be impermanent, but also come with important life lessons better to be learned at the age of 3 than at a later time.  Mostly, it’s going to be a place for him to play and interact with kids his own age (which he’s been dying to do) and to learn German — I think that by the end of September, if not sooner, he’ll be the best German speaker in the house.

But still, he’s my baby, and I don’t think I’m ready to let go, even in this little way.  But, I will, because it’s what is right for him.  The good parts of this, as well as the challenges, are important for his journey in life.  As with pretty much everything having to do with raising children, this just isn’t about me.  (If he hates it, though, I’m bringing him straight home.  Just saying.)

Dream job

In the morning, I usually wake up to hugs and “Good morning, Mommy — how was your sleep?” from a groggy eyed Benjamin, or to cooing and a snuggle from Liam.  As the day goes on, I feed my boys, I change diapers, I enforce nap time.  I build roads from blocks for cars to drive on and I play ball in my living room.  I try to juggle playing, being in charge, taking care of errands and trying to keep the house at least a little clean (Benjamin helps — really).  I run races, put puzzles together, play games on the computer, answer lots of questions, share ice cream and wash sticky faces and fingers.  I try to get my kids out so that we can see some of this fantastic city (because I know that all too soon this opportunity will have passed).  I give baths, I cuddle, I read stories.  The other day, I filled a wading pool using a 32 ounce plastic cup and countless trips back and forth from my kitchen to the terrace.  Tonight, Benjamin fell asleep during story time — I looked over, halfway through our second book, and he was out.

This is the best job ever.

It is hard, the hours are endless, I am often exhausted and sometimes pushed past the limits of my strength (mental, physical and emotional), there are no sick days and a break is really hard to come by.  But this is exactly the job I want to have.  I am so grateful that I get to spend this time with my wonderful kids.  I complain about it sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  If I had millions of dollars in the bank, this is exactly what I’d do (although I’d hire someone to make sure the house stays clean).  What a great feeling:  I get to wake up every morning and do exactly what I would do if money were no object.  I love it.