I realize it’s been a while since I did this — blogging, I mean. It’s also been a while since I’ve written an end-of-year/ wishing-everyone-a-new-year post. So, I’m actually really glad that I managed to find some time today to write this post. And I’ve lots to say. Lots. But, I’ll try to keep this post brief (although, of course, I cannot promise you that!).
So, 2016 is almost over, eh? As a matter of fact, it’s already 2017 in some parts of the world, and I am sure these people are breathing a sigh of relief that the year is finally over. Personally, for me, 2016 was quiet. Quiet, but very, very busy. Oh, and when I say quiet, I mean I didn’t write (besides academic) nor blog as much. And this was on purpose. I realized that I needed the time — whatever little time I could afford — for self-care. As much as I love to write — it’s like petroleum for me — I understood that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I knew it would always be there. Waiting. I finally even found the knack to say “no” to a few blogging outlets that approached me, or pitched an idea to me, for a blog article for their websites. And, knowing how I am, I could never have the aptitude to say no — matter of fact, I’d almost always say yes, and then stay up most of the night writing a piece, while both sacrificing my sleep and the fact that I had to tend to a baby every hour or so. However, I didn’t allow that to happen to me this past year. I simply wouldn’t. I needed to make sure I set my priorities straight. I instead took the time to focus on my children, my school/work, my husband, and my close friends (you lovelies know who you are!).
Needless to say, the first six months of 2016 was the toughest as I was taking care of both a newborn and a toddler (who clearly wasn’t happy that the newborn was in the picture, and stealing her spotlight). I remember how long those days felt; how difficult it was to take care of the newborn, while making sure my then two-year-old would not feel neglected/ignored. While I knew taking care of two babies would be difficult, I clearly had no idea that it would actually be beyond what I’d initially imagined. Half of the struggle was to keep the newborn safe from the older sibling (sorry, sweetie, but you were a little dangerous back then!). Every single day that was my biggest struggle. And, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that my daughter was jealous of the new human being who’d suddenly entered our lives and turned everything upside down (especially for her), but also the fact that she wasn’t exactly the most gentle when it came to showing affection (at times) towards the baby. So, yes, the first six months or so, my role wasn’t just that of an around-the-clock milk supplier, but also that of a babyguard. But that time, too, has passed. And while it felt like an eternity back then, it’s unbelievable how short a time it actually lasted. Both my beautiful children now go to preschool and daycare respectively. And, while there are still times when the older one will get jealous of the little one, at least I don’t have to worry that they’ll seriously hurt each other (but who knows? I’ve yet to experience real sibling rivalry! Yikes!).
However, it would be a lie to say that since my children started to attend daycare, I have more time to myself. The reality is that I decided to go back to school in September, and on top of that I was offered a teaching position, so school +work +motherhood = chaos. Of course, when I say chaos I don’t necessarily mean it in a bad way; more like, in a good, positive , and really, really busy way. Of course, “me time” barely happened, as much as I wanted it to happen. But, that’s okay. I’d rather be busy than idle anyway. Or so, I keep telling myself. But, ah, what the hey! 🙂
As for school, going back was probably
the worst a sound decision. At first, I was worried about how it was all going to work out, considering that my son was still too young and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure whether I wanted to put him in daycare yet. Yes, I, too, went through that whole guilt trip as a “bad mom,” having to put my infant son in daycare, while I went on to pursue my career/passions. My son was only nine months old when I first enrolled him in daycare, and the realization of it shattered me. I remember reluctantly dropping him off at daycare on his first day, a few months ago, and as soon as I came back to my car, I started to bawl, asking myself over and over again what exactly the fuck I was doing? Did my darling infant son deserve to be in daycare so young? My beautiful little Zaryab, who was still exclusively breastfeeding, and so very attached and dependent on me? How cruel and inconsiderate could I be to just drop him off like that, in the hands of strange women he has never met before, just so that I could wander off and pursue selfish vocations? And the more I thought about it, the more horrible and guilty I felt. But, as days progressed, and as I watched him on the baby monitor cameras — a superbly wonderful service that the daycare so conveniently offers to concerned parents like myself, I started to feel more and more at ease. My son was in a good place; he started going there only three days a week, and soon he was making other baby friends and intellectually flourishing in the social skills department. No doubt things definitely got easier as the days progressed and my son got more and more comfortable at the daycare. But, of course, there are times (not as often as before, though) when I still go through pangs of guilt, wondering whether it is really all that worth it. I hope it is. Le sigh.
Nevertheless, I still believe that deciding to go back to finish up grad school was a good decision, especially when I was also offered a chance to teach a class of my own! I met students with whom I most likely will still keep in touch, because we exchanged so many wonderful emails, and shared great conversations during my office hours. The best part was when more than three students both emailed and approached me in person to tell me that I’m the best teacher they’ve had, and how much they loved my teaching style. Needless to say, I was over the moon — by far, the best compliment I could have ever received throughout my whole academic career. And that is when I knew that this is where I am meant to be, and this is exactly what I am meant to be doing. I’d found my calling. Again. And, this time, I wasn’t going to let it go.
Admittedly, this past year definitely has had its highs (the sweet compliments I received from my students, of course) and lows; one of which having to put my sweet little baby boy in daycare, and the other one being the recent US presidential election — definitely one of the lowest of lows (even though I was indifferent to the whole election anyway, mainly because neither Clinton nor Trump appealed to me; they’re both corrupt leaders to their very cores). However, for me, it wasn’t the results of the US presidential elections that shattered me this past year. No, not at all. It was the passing of a dear friend’s son, less than a month ago that really and completely broke me. The boy was not sick, nor unhealthy; as a matter of fact, he was vibrant, very healthy, and both intellectually and physically brilliant. The news of his sudden death came as such a shock to me, that I literally couldn’t sleep for days. It suddenly reminded me of a really deep and powerful piece I’d read a couple months ago, entitled, “Children don’t always live” by Jayson Greene. His child, too, suddenly passed away in an accident that could have been prevented. And it all happened so fast, that it took them a while before realizing that their child was really gone. However, when you learn about a healthy, beautiful child whom you knew (but unfortunately hadn’t met, except through the wonderful pictures and videos that his parents shared on social media), it’s hard not to think about your own kids and realize that it, too, could happen to you. The realization that death is looming, watching, waiting for an opportunity to pounce, and snatch a piece of your heart and then shattering it into infinite little pieces — pieces that will take a lifetime, or probably not, to put back to together. It’s funny, isn’t it? Life gets so busy that we forget that death exists too. I have to admit, I hardly think about death. I mean it does cross my mind, but I never think about it on a constant basis. I know it exists, and I know we will all die some day, but it’s pushed back so far into my psyche that I rarely ever concern myself with it. However, recently, I think about it quite often. No, not my own death, but the possibility that it could touch my children. And it scares me. It scares the living daylights out of me. Of course, I try not to let it dictate my life or my children’s lives, but I have become more aware of it –unfortunately, I don’t know how to prepare for it, or how to even avoid it. Life is very unpredictable. There are certain things that are way beyond our control. We can take as much care as we can, but there is always that factor of inevitability. I see and read about parents losing children in the news all the time, and I can’t help thinking: how. How do these parents cope and eventually move on? Do they ever move on? It really and truly is unimaginable!
Anyway, I realize this is probably one of my darkest posts, and apologies if it came out being a little depressing than usual. I appreciate the readership nonetheless! For my 2017 resolution, I’m hoping to change my (lack of) blogging habits; I feel 2016 was restful enough in that regards. I’m hoping to definitely change that in the new year. I miss writing, and here’s hoping I’ll be able to find more time (even if it doesn’t always exist) to blog. On that note, here’s wishing you all a very safe and joyous New Year. May the universe be a little kinder and gentler to us this year. May we get closer to our loved ones, and may we find peace within our hearts, especially those of us who have tragically lost our loved ones. We may not be able to predict what life has in store for us, but we shouldn’t hold ourselves back from doing the things we both enjoy and love.
New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
See you all in the New Year! Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog (if you haven’t already done so; it’ll only take a minute I promise), as I plan to be blogging quite a bit in the next several months. ❤