It’s the tiniest of whimpers that pulls me from my slumber. I swipe my phone to check the time: shit, it’s 2:37 am. I had set an alarm for 1:15, but clearly my sleep deprived body had decided not to heed that call. Now I’m in for it. Ten minutes to feed her, six to change her, and forty five to rock her back to sleep enough that she’ll actually accept the crib and let me go pump for another twenty in the cold dark living room, my aching boobs reprimanding me for missing that alarm and not pumping before they turned into unripened mangos.
All that time bouncing quietly, while softly shhh-ing and soothing my daughter back to sleep, gives me a lot of time to think about how my expectation of my life has gone miles off the course I thought I was on.
A year ago I had just finished performing in a really wonderful production of Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days; I had finished a first draft of a play, a romantic comedy; my husband and I were finally launching a production company and our first show, a co-production with a good friend and artist we highly admire, was about to open. I had a lot of expectations of what was coming.
And then I found out I was pregnant.
And then the pandemic hit.
And I have to admit, I felt really sorry for myself. It’s easy to get caught up in what we want to happen so much so, that we miss taking advantage of what is actually happening. It’s easy to live in a fantasy of what we wish was coming our way, rather than living in the moment; I’d argue, in a lot of ways, it’s easier. But easy doesn’t always mean it’s the best thing, and after a couple months of soul searching and learning how to deal with reality, I was finally ready to move on from my cozy expectations.
As disappointing as having to cancel that production was, lockdown enabled me to begin exploring other types creativity outside of theatre. I had always wanted to write a novel, and now I had oodles of time— so I wrote a novel. I finally gave myself the time to focus on my mental well-being and made the effort to journal, meditate and work out daily.
I couldn’t control the situation I was in, but I sure could control how I chose to view it, and rather than seeing it as the universe out to get me, I took it as the universe giving me a new perspective.
Ever hear of Viktor Frankl? He found himself in a concentration camp during World War Two (talk about not being able to control your situation), and rather than succumb to despair, he decided to take advantage of the situation (if you could call it that), and view the whole thing as a life lesson, and asked what he might be able to teach others about what he learned during that time. He changed his perspective when he could not change is circumstances.
Shit happens and there’s nothing we can do to stop it, but we can change how we view it.
After I gave birth to my daughter, I lost the oodles of free time; I was no longer able to journal, meditate or work out daily, and I definitely wasn’t able to find the time to write a novel. I was ( and am) constantly tired, and struggle to find the time to shower and eat properly, let alone be creative. I can’t change these circumstances. With the pandemic still rolling, I can’t get a baby sitter in, and my husband is still working, so the majority of the parenting falls to me. And that’s okay. I can get upset about the whole thing, or I can take a lesson from Viktor Frankl and try to find meaning in this new reality I’m in. Night wakings could be a constant hell I’m forced to put up with for the foreseeable future, or they could be the only time I get for myself to read and write.
Though being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, there’s such joy in it. I’m discovering how to see the world through the eyes of my daughter; I get the chance to be a child again! It’s been an amazing journey watching her take in all the things I take for granted, like how to move one’s hands to exactly the spot you wanted to move them, or what it feels like to pet a cat. These little things for me, are huge moments for her; it’s incredibly awe inspiring and humbling all at once.
So how do you deal with the shit that comes your way? Do you sit in it and complain about the smell, or do you find a way to turn that shit into something beautiful: the manure that feeds the flowers?
In the end, what you do with it, is totally up to you.