It’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post and to say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Since then, I’ve become a mother to a beautiful baby girl who will be three months on Friday 26th May, I’ve moved to another home and I’ve been lecturing in a Masters programme at the University while keeping my full time job.
My daughter was born on Sunday 26th February 2017 and it was an experience like no other. No description anyone can give can truly express what carrying a child for 9 months and giving birth feels like and how it changes you. Your spouse can try to understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling but there is honestly no description that can make him fully grasp the essence of carrying life and birthing life. I constantly felt as if my body was not my own but I was still responsible for taking such great care of it and prioritizing its needs. My pregnancy had its ups and downs but for the most part it was great. Of course I gained weight, more weight than I ever expected but right now I’m about 5 to 10 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight.
I will always remember the first glance at my daughter and my first thought towards her…”Wow I have a daughter and she has my nose”. My daughter was past her due date and was taken away from me as soon as she was born due to medical complications. About 5 hours later I held her for the first time. I wish I could say it was what I expected but at that moment I simply felt hugely responsible yet blessed. I felt that it’s no longer about me and that I was responsible for providing for and taking care of another human being for as long as she couldn’t provide for and take care of herself. I also felt extremely blessed that God would entrust one of his children to my care and raising her in his ways was of most importance. I constantly remind myself that I’m taking care of one of God’s children.
The Cosmic has aligned things in such a way that my contract for my full time job ends tomorrow and I am only lecturing part time. This would allow me to spend more time with my baby girl. I do miss the work hustle a bit but “Baby is Boss”. Being home with her has allowed me to give her a night time routine that ensures she is in bed by 8PM and this works for everyone in the household, especially her. Her evening routine usually starts with a walk around 5PM, either by me, her dad, or both of us. We get in around 6:30PM and she relaxes for at least 15 minutes. She is given a bath between 6:45PM and 7:15PM, then a feeding in her room with dimmed lights, which lasts as long as she would like it to. Then it’s off to bed…on her own. I learned quite a lot from my grandmother about taking care of babies, so I knew early on that rocking and singing would not be part of her bed time routine. It’s important to let babies figure out how to fall asleep on their own. Once singing and rocking are associated with sleep, it’s hard to break that habit. I also learned that a night time routine will help to provide cues for her that are associated with sleep. Babies thrive on routine because it helps to avoid chaos and it insulates the baby from huge, unexpected changes. “They’re a necessary part of socialization,” says Larry Shapiro, PhD, author of The Secret Language of Children: How to Understand What Your Kids Are Really Saying (Sourcebooks, 2003). “When a child learns that it’s time to go to bed, not play, she’s beginning to understand that she has to follow rules.”
Her morning routine is also coming in quite nicely. She usually gets up between 6AM and 7AM, gets a bath about an hour to an hour and a half later, gets her feed in a dimly lit room and she is off to bed for at least 3 wonderful hours. This is the time I try to make the most of. I’ll get work done, chores done and anything that requires my complete focus and attention. Her day time routine from 11AM to 5PM is still a work in progress but I’m observing her to figure out what works best for her. I have always been an advocate of keeping a daily routine as an adult so it’s wonderful to pass that on to my daughter. While my daily routine in the past would have been mainly focused on my goals, I now prioritize my daughter and structure my daily routine around her.
This post is in total contrast to what I’ve written in the past. It’s not planned and I honestly can’t say when my next blog post will be. The past couple of months have not gone according to plan and have been filled with quite a number of life lessons. I wish I could say that I know exactly where I’m going from here but honestly I have no major goals in sight, which is a bit weird for me to acknowledge. It’s just one day at a time for me right now with plans that extend to maybe the next week or so. I’ve never really lived life quite this way but it’s the best thing for me to do at the moment. I’ve always been raised to believe that if I fail to plan, plan to fail but what if my plans that were so well planned out, still fail. Is this actually worse than not planning and just letting things happen? I’m not as sure about life as I once was and approaching 32 feeling this way is a bit scary. I’m a huge fan of The Minimalists and three of their articles entitled Accomplishments Without Goals, Moving Beyond Goals and Living Without Goals help ease my mind and reassure me that I’m not a total failure for having no major goals right now in my life. I think most of us would like to have a huge impact on this world we live in and be rewarded for it in a spectacular financial way, thus allowing us to continue to impact the world. Most of us would love to do great things and be recognized for our hard work and dedication. It may sound weak of me to say I’ve given up on some of my goals and to say that, really cannot fairly describe how I feel but I do think for the most part, I was not living in the now and it started to wreak havoc in so many areas of my life. Planning can do that to you. It can force you to lose sight of what is happening in the now because you are consumed with creating for the future. So many events and situations have brought me back to writing a blog post this morning and as I mentioned before, I honestly don’t know when next I’ll be writing another post. For now, I intend to complete the work I have set out for today and pray that I wake to see another day.
Yesterday I read an article by Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief at The Huffington Post Media Group entitled “There’s Enough Time in Your Life for Everything Important”. A quote from the article which I absolutely love is by Brian Andreas: “Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.” Yes our culture is obsessed with time. I planned every minute of every day to try to get the most out of my day. In my mind and I’m sure in the minds of others, being productive was most important. Always designate time towards tasks that support long term goals so that you’re always prepared for that big break. I attended to my schedule weekly, constantly making adjustments to scrape off minutes wherever I could. I constantly craved more hours in the day and sacrificed personal relationships for the sake of getting more done. A lot has changed this year though…thankfully in part to Martin. If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now, I’m loving my life even more right now. Work has been given less time in my day and family, love and rest have been given greater priority and I couldn’t be happier. I am thinking alot clearer now and placing less pressure on myself to get things done as if I’ll be scolded for it. I have one deadline for Monday with the University for the submission of grades. After Monday, I’ll be at such a slow pace I hope I don’t feel lost…lol. Arianna said her mother was a towering example of the joys of slowing down. She believed that rushing through life was a sure way to miss the gifts that come only when you give 100 percent of yourself to a task, a conversation, a dinner, a relationship, a moment. I can honestly say that one’s definition of success will determine their attitude towards time and how they prioritize things in their life. As long as success is defined by who works the longest hours, who goes the longest without a vacation, who sleeps the least, who responds to an email at midnight or five in the morning we’re never going to be able to enjoy the benefits of time affluence.
I don’t follow reality television but it’s hard to not be aware of who the Kardashians are. Last Friday, one member of the show, Bruce Jenner, sat down with Diane Sawyer for an interview to discuss his transition from a man to a woman. Homosexual, Bisexual and Transgender issues are always starting points for conflict but that’s not the angle I’m coming from. Speaking to Diane Sawyer, Bruce Jenner said he always believed he was born with ‘the soul of a woman’, and this is the last time he would appear as ‘Bruce’ before becoming ‘her’. Now whether this is right or wrong is none of my concern but one thing I do understand from all of this, is that it can drain your spirit if you can’t be yourself. So many times we pretend to be someone else for so many reasons. Either because we believe it’s the societal norm, to make or parents and family happy, to be accepted by those around us or to make relationships work. Bruce Jenner has been living a life where he could not be his true self for the past 65 years and I can only imagine how crippling that can be. I know personally what it’s like to be be living a life to make someone else happy and forgetting who you truly want to be. I have found great joy in getting back to my true self and regaining sight of the things I want to accomplish in life, instead of living by someone else’s standards and ideals. One of the most beautiful things about life is that we each have our own and we can live it how ever we see fit. While something may have worked for someone else, it’s not guaranteed to work for you. There is not blueprint for life, for relationships, for parenting. Referring to Pythagoras’ quote ” Man know thyself; then thou shalt know the Universe and God”. Instead of trying to be who society or some else tells you to be, figure out who you truly are and everything will fall into place.
Lately, I’m reminded that in relationships there must be some sacrifice and compromise for it to work. How much should one compromise in a relationship, I’m still trying to figure that one out. A close friend of mine told me a few months ago, that I compromise too much of myself to make friendships and relationships work. I think compromise and sacrifice are great once the other person can be thankful for what their partner is willing to give up to make them happy. My last serious relationship ended in 2009 to one of my best friends and I’m really glad we have maintained a great friendship after the break up. Having spent the past six years focusing on myself, compromise can be somewhat of a challenge. I’ve invested so much in my education and career that I believe I need to grab at every opportunity that comes my way, even at the expense of my health and time with loved ones. I recently had the opportunity to work with a start-up here in Trinidad and Tobago and sadly, I turned down the opportunity. I looked at my current schedule and I knew it would be impossible to manage. I’m making great headway with a web based application and my lecturing duties are extremely important to me and I’m also finding it easier to make time to spend with loved ones. To risk losing the things that I have working for me now may not be a sensible compromise. It’s impossible to grab at every opportunity that comes your way and it’s understandable if you feel you need to. I wish that start-up all the success in the world even though I cannot be a part of it. One old saying that I always remember is “One bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes“.
Oh how do I love my Aunt Bernadette. She is my father’s eldest sister and I often describe her as the epitome of female perfection. The respect I have for her as a person far surpasses the respect I have for my mother and father combined, not that I love my parents any less. I’ve always admired her approach when dealing with me and people in general. She has never raised her voice or her hand at me, yet she can easily influence my decision making. My parents on the other hand, have both raised theirs hands and voices at me and yet I have disobeyed them on numerous occasions. I recall noticing this about her as a teenager and I often wondered, how does she do it. I would look at other family members and friends who would often use aggression, obscene language or try to instill fear in someone else to get what they want from a person, whereas she would find kind words and even a bit of scripture to get her point across. This lady has amazed me all my life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and even her approach to dealing with it has been inspiring. I would admit that growing up I was a bit more aggressive than I am now but after having noticed how my Aunt Bernadette got the things she needed and wanted in life by taking a gentler approach, I was determined to try it myself. I am no where close to being like her but I constantly aim for it. People and circumstances constantly test me to see how much I really want to change but it helps to focus my mind on her when I’m tempted to act otherwise. While there may be many people who have found a more aggressive approach to work for them and they have gotten what they wanted, it’s important to consider the psychological consequences of the person who is the recipient of such aggressive behavior. The emotional and mental abuse passed on to someone can affect so many aspects of that persons life and the people around them. Whenever I call my Aunt Bernadette for advice on anything, I can guarantee that she’ll be honest, give her opinion about both sides of the situation and always suggest I pray about it. Aunt Bernadette, I love you dearly, please continue to be an inspiration to me and for many others who look up to you.
Earlier this year, I read an article by Ivanka Trump talking about women not being able to have it all. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is also the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. Most importantly, she is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children, daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick. Ivanka recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, which aims to “celebrate the many different ways in which women work and to redefine and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today.”. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump explained her perspective on work-life balance. She frankly says, “You can’t have it all.” When people ask her how she balances work and life, her response is always: “I don’t, and I don’t try to.” “People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.” Ivanka says, it’s less about balancing a “work life” and a “home life” and more about creating one rich, full life that’s tailored to my specific goals and priorities.
As I’ve decided to give my personal and family life a bit more focus, I too am realising the difficulties with trying to create a balanced life. I began feeling a bit overwhelmed with my additional responsibilities and sometimes I even felt as if I needed to give up something in order to feel a greater sense of accomplishment in at least one area. I grew up watching the women in my family. My grandmother was the first to rise in the morning and the last one in the family to go to bed at night. For a working women who still has the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children, I can only imagine a full night’s rest of 8-10 hours sleep can seem like such a fairy tale. Sometimes I think that it’s a bit unfair for women but then again there are times I see how privileged we are. We are expected to be as educated as men but in some organisations, industries or countries, we will never be professionally equal to men. Even after contributing our day’s work at the office, we switch our hats, become more submissive and nurturing and come home to take care of our families.
It’s inevitable that some of us will have to sacrifice some of our professional goals for a family life. Having been so focused on my career for most of my life, I’m starting to realise that I need to view family life with equal or greater importance than I do my career. The drive and passion I have towards my professional goals and accomplishments need to also be the drive and passion I have towards my personal life. When asked what’s her definition of success, Ivanka says happiness. She doesn’t think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. She recalls many people who are professionally successful but miserable. She concluded by saying that she’s happy when she’s achieving her professional goals and when she’s with her husband and children.