Dora got a haircut yesterday. Brian took her to the Westside Barber Shop, where she sat in his lap to get her wispy blond hair trimmed, then (against our better judgment) got to enjoy a watermelon DumDum while Daddy got his haircut. Rushing between a morning meeting and a working lunch, I listened to a phone message from Brian, him whispering in the background, prompting Dora to tell me about her haircut. Like many other things in my sweet girl's life, I didn't get to be there for her haircut because I'm a working mother.
This week at work was more stressful than usual, with lots of meetings, requests for more work, and changes to scheduled next steps that I didn't anticipate. From a twelve hour day on Monday to working at home in the evening on a few other nights, long after Dora was asleep, it was a long week. It is not easy being away from Dora all the time, but it's even harder when the work is stressful and the things I miss are so cute.
The weather is definitely changing, giving me that sense of urgency I start to feel at the end of summer that makes me want to get out and enjoy every bit of sunshine left. Yesterday I promised myself that after a hard day at work, Dora and I would come home and do something fun outside. When I was out at lunch, the sun had come out and the rain had stopped, and I hoped the nice weather would continue. But, by the time I walked out of my office, blinking in the afternoon light, the clouds were starting to gather. Turning onto our street coming home from daycare, we felt the first raindrop fall through the open sunroof. Our outdoor playtime was not to be. Instead, we had snacks - grapes and Gouda - and watched some Muppies while waiting for Daddy to get home.
This morning dawned gray again. Today I had the opportunity to take photographs for my friend David's website. I shot all the art for his recently released album. I was really happy with how that came out, and apparently he was, too, because he asked me to take more pictures for his website and upcoming promo materials. We met at a coffee shop, taking advantage of flattering window light and the diffused cloudy sky. The group accommodated all of my requests - climbing on rock walls, squeezing into tight corners, while I stood on tables and chairs. It was fabulous, and I think we got some great photos out of it, too.
It was, technically, work, but it felt different. After we left, I felt energized. It had only taken a few hours, but I felt great - creative and happy and excited to see how the photos came out. I found myself comparing this feeling to how I feel when I get home from my current job - tired, grumpy, thankful to be employed but often unhappy with how stressful my work can be, and frequently questioning whether its really the best way to spend my time away from Dora and Brian.
I did a quick interview at the end of the photo shoot, to get some ideas for the text of the website. My husband, who is also one of the musicians in David's band, commented that he loves being a musician, but because it is also how he makes his living, it can be difficult to always enjoy what he is doing. It's hard to balance doing what you love as your career, he said, and to stay passionate about something that is also your source of income.
I know this is true, and also know that it is easy to glamorize things when you are only on the periphery. I look at my friends who are stay-at-home moms with a bit of jealousy. I know, I really do, that what they are doing is NOT easy - staying at home with your children is work, too, and the kind that is often unrewarded. I completely respect that challenge and how meaningful it is. I know others who work part-time, and that sounds like it would be great, too - but I also know that the loss of income and the challenge of scheduling can make that hard to manage as well. That being said, it would be great to come home from work with that energized feeling I had today, so that I can feel it is a bit more justified to miss the milestones like haircuts and Kindermusik.
The time apart is made all the more difficult by the fact that milestones seem to happen almost every day. Dora is talking so much now, she says a new word almost every day. She's learning to sing now, knows how to count to ten. Giving her a bath tonight, I couldn't believe how big she is - stretched out and splashing in the tub, almost touching the ends. I'm just trying to hang on to all of that, because like all of the other stages she's gone through it seems to be flying by, kind of like the summer. Brian said the other day he'd give just about anything to have 10 minutes with her back when she was tiny, just to see what she was like, remember her little pink tongue sticking out, her big blue eyes so watchful and bright. I admit it is almost impossible to remember her like that now, and I wonder where the time has gone.
Perhaps it is the fact that these moments are fleeting that makes them so wonderful. I am certainly thankful that I have the opportunity to reflect on them, and to record them in a meaningful way. Things are not perfect - my house could be cleaner, my job could be better, our debt could be lower - but I am so unbelievably lucky, so blessed by all of the love and beauty in my life. Maybe what I need to do is work harder at carrying the energy I get from all of that love and beauty with me to my office, letting it take up some of the space the stress and papers and emails now take up. And I also pledge to keep seeking out ways to satisfy my creative spirit - through this blog, with friends who let me participate in their creativity, with my girl, snapping photos of her latest milestones, haircuts, and cupcakes - for there is nothing sweeter than that.