Monday, February 6, 2012

Reflection & Rejuvenation: February

Long time, no talk! I apologize for my unscheduled break last week. We found out on the previous Tuesday that our closing was actually going to happen on Thursday. Although Thursday, 1/26 was on our original contract, we assumed it wasn't going to be that early, since the title company was still working on financing stuff with the buyers.

So Tuesday to Thursday isn't much time to pack. Although I did attempt to follow my moving project plan as much as possible, I didn't start the packing part until we knew we were officially moving. Two days to pack up your entire life (2.5 people + bloodhound + 2 chickens) is a bit stressful. On top of the sheer physical demands of packing and loading boxes, there was also the emotional stress of leaving my beloved city (even though I want to move to Austin to make my dreams happen). Matt and I tend to fight more when we're under stress, so we found ourselves arguing about packing (I thought we should stay up late packing every night; he wanted to go to bed and "just pack the boxes when we're loading the truck.") and fighting about asking for help (I wanted to throw a little party and invite lots of good friends to help carry boxes; Matt thinks it's rude to ask other people to help you move). We stayed up until 3:30am getting the truck packed (after the battery died and we had to unpack almost the entire truck to find our checkbook for the closing).

Our closing went smoothly, and the buyers are a delightful couple. We are so, so fortunate to have sold our house in this economy (and at a price significantly higher than we paid for it 3.5 years ago, thanks to the desirability of our neighborhood). After the closing, we trekked to Austin. Matt drove the truck, while I schleped the baby and the chickens (in a box) in my car. We arrived in Austin around 10pm and started unloading the truck.

And I have to say that our first week in Austin was hard. In some ways, it was awesome. I went to the grocery store on our first day here, and I ran into someone I know. The next day, I took Henry to his first birthday party. On Sunday I went to a cohousing potluck and met up with an awesome blog reader and her partner. On Monday, I met Kelly for lunch and a walk around the lake. On Tuesday, I met this cool lady at the park behind our house, and met a woman for dinner who is interested in Montessori For All. On Thursday I had a playdate with someone I met for the first time through a friend. On Friday we had a playdate with someone else and we hosted a dinner party.

But there was also the sinking realization that my life was better in Houston. I thought that Henry was going to start childcare right away, so I thought I would have time for work meetings. It turns out that the teacher isn't ready to take him yet, so I'm left feeling trapped. We moved here so I could start a school, but I don't have any time to get out into the community. I also thought that Matt would work from home, but he's been choosing to work out of the Austin office instead.

As I type all of this, I am overwhelmed with forgiveness. I want to say to myself, "Of course you are feeling this way! Look at all you've been through in such a short amount of time! Transitions are always hard. Things will look up soon."

But I'm also pushing myself to feel overwhelming gratitude for everything I have in my life. All the really important things are right here by my side.

And then I'm also generating next steps. I've connected with three different babysitters who will be able to give me the time that I need to meet with people in the community to talk about my idea for a school. It will be expensive, but it's what we have to do, so I can continue to be a patient and present mother when I'm with Henry. As I write that sentence, I worry that I'm going to regret my eagerness to go back to work when I'm old and gray. I don't want to think to myself, "Why was I in such a hurry? Henry was young for such a short time."

It's a delicate balance, for sure. I want to savor this time with Henry, prioritize family, and create space for connection, but I also want to feel like a complete, passionate person.

So, February, you are upon us. Let me go back and see how I did with my January goals (I'm afraid to look).

  • Select at least three people for the Montessori For All Board of Directors. I selected two.
  • Follow our project plan for getting our house ready for our move to Austin. I followed it for purging and organizing, which was good.
  • Find a good rental house in Austin. Yes! It's right on a park.
  • Get unpacked and settled in Austin fast. We're getting close. We already hosted a dinner party, so I'm feeling good.
  • Read Strengths Based Leadership. Yep.
  • Read Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. I borrowed the documentary from the library so Matt and I could watch it together.
  • Help Henry build his iron supplies with a green smoothie every day (he's slightly anemic). Yes.
  • Publish consistently on my two blogs. Nope. I couldn't keep up when we didn't have internet connection and we were busy, busy, busy.
  • Finish my sections for the Montessori book I'm working on with Kylie. No! This project has been pushed to the back burner. Sorry, Kylie! Hopefully I will get to it this month.
  • Participate daily in the Purposeful Conception e-course. Yep, I've been participating a lot.
  • Read Love Medicine. I started it but it was too depressing for me.
  • Run at least three times per week. I only ran two times this month. But I'm still really proud of myself because I didn't run for almost two years. When I picked it up again, I was able to run three miles without stopping.
  • Do one sun salutation before bed every night. No. Now that our new house has carpet, this is going to be even easier. I'm realizing that I never responded to the yoga teacher's comment about picking a more relaxing posture. I Boldhear you, but I love sun salutations! They stretch me out really well, and the breathing is so soothing to me.
  • Send birthday cards. Big fail.
  • Plan my birthday party. Tried to but the Portland idea got nixed.

Oh, February, you are a short month, and I'm already late getting to these goals. I need to be very careful with myself this month.

  • Create a project plan for the year for Montessori For All
  • Host Henry's first birthday party
  • Get an Austin library card
  • Change everything to our new address
  • Do one sun salutation before bed every night
  • Practice my mantra "let it go"
  • Update our scrapbook
  • Seek out joy in my new city

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Anonymous said...

Before you change your address and everything, I recommend you get a UPS box.

If you're starting a business, you need a more professional address and people don't need to know where you live. Plus, they can handle checks and boxes and stuff that might not be a great idea at your home mailbox.

My UPS box has lasted through three moves, it's great as a renter because you never have to move everything over again.

Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad about wanting to get back to work! I felt like I was "bad mom" because I wasn't overwhelmed with joy when staying home with my little one. We kept our son out of childcare until he was a year old. But it was a hard year for me and our marriage. I now realize that I like to work because I like my profession and the people I meet through it. I am a better mom and wife when I work. Some of us are just wired that way. Henry is lucky to have a Mom who can show him that working in something you love is so important!

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me worry about you and Matt. None of your goals for January or February include him, he is choosing to work at the office when you thought he would work from home...I know we only know what is on your blog, but please be careful with your relationship. You stress out about a lot of "stuff" and seem to make unreasonable expectations for yourself and your family. I hope you are able to "let things go".

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Anonymous 9:43: Thanks for worrying about us and sharing your worry with me. It's always good to have an outside perspective reflect back to us how they interpret what we share.

Matt and I are doing okay. We've had a lot of fights the past couple weeks, but we always come back together to process those fights and figure out how to resolve the underlying issues. We try to hear what the other person needs and see what we can do to help. I've tried to communicate to Matt that I feel really trapped and that we can't just "sign Henry up for daycare" to solve the problem. He's been trying to convey to me how difficult it is to telecommute when everyone else works onsite. He's trying to be even more professional and even more on-top of things, which is why he's going into the regional office every day.

And I do prioritize and set goals for our relationship all the time, but it happens more in the moment, which is why you don't see them here.

Anthropolochic said...

I'm sorry your move has been stressful. I'm surprised you are back to blogging so quickly, frankly. I don't think I would have recovered with such speed.

Re: your birthday. It occurs to me that maybe a stop-gap birthday celebration would help. You could plan to do some traveling a little later, and give yourself more time to plan. In the interim, you could have a birthday feast that would allow you to bond with your new friends in Austin and chill after all this change, at the same time.

My birthday is a few days after Thanksgiving and few before my husband's. It's especially stressful in NYC, because it coincides with a major uptick in tourism. This year it landed a few days before my doctoral dissertation defense. My husband invited some friends and friends of friends to a very cheap, byob chinese, small plates restaurant. It was a really relaxing way to celebrate. It was intimate, but not too quiet. I got to try a lot of new dishes, but didn't overeat or overspend. We had the table for the entire night. It might have been the sweetest possible birthday, because it combined my need to chill and it was different/special....and...I didn't have to handle it at all.

So - maybe a low key restaurant get together...or something super low maintenance, like a fondue, in your new home. You could combine with with work-ish hobby-ish choosing board members for your school, or invite some of your husband's co-workers etc.. While you are recovering from your move, you can plan a post-dated b-day trip.

Anthropolochic said...

I apologize for all the mistakes in this post. I didn't proof it and I'm a wordsmith. Sigh.

Shawn said...

I really relate to your moving and life changes discussion here and wanted to thank you, as always, for posting. I just left L.A. and moved to a more suburban area and it's a big transition. It was the right decision, but it's an adjustment. Also, I have been looking for work for months after finishing law school. I was finally offered some part-time work about 2 days after deciding to move - I had to accept because I need the money, but now I have an impossibly long commute. It's just hard waiting for all of the wrinkles to fall out - I like to have a plan and know what's coming, which I'm sure you can relate to, and it's just not possible right now for me. You should be so proud of what you have accomplished in Austin already - and remind yourself you're in the "cracking a few eggs to make an omelet" stage. Wishing you and your family well!

Meghan said...

oh boy, Sara, that's a lot to deal with in such a short time. We're thinking of you guys and wishing you the best as you make this transition. I think it is so hard to move to a new city, and you have already made so much progress in getting settled. I'm impressed! Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I had the same thought as the third Anonymous comment. I respect all of your big goals, but you might want to step back and work at being a bit more realistic. If all of those big goals create ridiculous volumes of stress, maybe you are taking on too much. You say that you "feel really trapped". Yikes. Maybe you need to slow everything down, and make some smaller, careful choices. The combination of major move, new job, trying to create a pocket neighborhood, trying to start a Montessori school, etc. etc. etc. seems extremely overwhelming to many of us. I really feel for Matt, especially, because he is probably feeling an incredible amount of financial strain and pressure to do well at work, given that he is more or less the only "breadwinner" at this point. Dreams are nice, and we should all have them, but they (and everything else) require money and, realistically, they can't all be pursued at the same time unless you have unlimited funds. Even a simplistic lifestyle in this country requires money. And money creates HUGE stress. You are wonderful even if you are not making something "big" every second, or even working toward something "big" every second.

Allison said...

Why not just take some time to get to know the city that you're going to build your school in? Austin is so kid friendly that there are plenty of things you can do to get out of the house with Henry. I honestly felt the same thing "Uh oh" when I read that Matt is not working from home. It seems like in your quest to do so much and control so much, you are creating a really stressful life.

Kristy said...

Everyone has times that feel overwhelming. Even just moving without all the additional stuff would be a lot for anybody. I don't blame you re: needing something to fulfill you outside of the "home". That balance is always a constant struggle for me. Don't let go of your passions. It sounds to me like you and Matt have a strong relationship and good communication lines. No doubt he understands and supports your various pursuits, especially those that involve him like the move and the pocket neighbourhood. As long as there is no resentment on Matt's part - I say go with it, being mindful of limits. But you've also blogged before about taking things off your plate when you've realized that you have overcommitted yourself so I think that ultimately you will sort that balance out yourself before it gets too problematic. Worse than causing some marital tension, you could harbour your own resentment if you feel forced to compromise your dreams which could be toxic.

Kelsey said...

Hey Sara, sending big hugs! Transitions are hard and you’re going through a big one; but an awesome one! I know how important community is to you and you will definitely find it in Austin. I'm so impressed that you've already done so much unpacking and hosted people at your house!! I know when I’ve moved I’ve been so eager to “find my place” and it just takes time. For example, we had to get to know a few different couples before we found those that we *really* clicked with. And I didn’t discover the library and nature preserve right by my house for several months, now it’s an integral part of my routine! You have to find your new rhythm in Austin but it’s exciting to be in a transition, maybe it just helps to remind yourself that things will settle down and find their place. And you and Matt definitely deserve a night to yourselves, you’ve both been working hard!

Elizabeth said...

Eek! Although I love that you are remembering my (I think it was my) comment about doing more relaxing postures before bed, rule #1 is do what works for you! I'm so glad you are taking time to honor your body-breath connection. That is what is important to any yoga teacher and you are doing it! Lots of love to your family as you settle into your new rhythm. Give yourself time and space, mama.

Celeste said...

I am thrilled to have discovered your blog today, Sara! After reading just a few entries, I can definitely relate to what you are sharing. I am a mostly stay-at-home mother of a 16 month- old daughter, and have recently begun to increase my work hours to about 16 hours a week. I have struggled with some guilt and fear about this--my feelings are so similar to those you describe. But what I have found is that it is actually making me really intentional about the two weekdays I am home with my girl. In fact, what brought me to your blog is my research this week on Montessori-based activities to do at home with my girl, to make our time together fulfilling and fun for the both of us.

Like I said, I am so excited to have found your blog, and even more excited when I learned that you are a fellow Austinite!!! Welcome to Austin!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Celeste! Let's plan a play date. Email me if you're interested.

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