I’ve begun to look at life as a series of windows. Windows of time, I mean. Temporal spaces we inhabit with unique roles to fill in each one. Exactly 13 months ago, I was riding shotgun in my dad’s car, five months pregnant, tearing up as I explained to him that I wasn’t reaching my professional goals. “I’m just not where I thought I would be by age 32,” I explained to him. “And here I am getting ready to have a baby, which means my career will most likely come to a screeching halt.” Dad took it all in, like he always does. We sat for a few moments in silence.
“Your job is just different now. It’s no less important, even though right now you may think it is. There is so much wonder ahead for you.” I believed him, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I should have published, or at least translated, a great novel by now. My company should be more successful (whatever that means). I should have traveled more. I should be more than I am. I continued to spiral, feeling like I hadn’t reached my apex yet, like I should have done more before deciding to have a child. I was resisting the window.
The weeks following Lyla’s birth, I started to understand what my dad had so simply, yet articulately, conveyed to me that day. As the months passed, I learned about the wonderfully all-consuming role that is motherhood. I learned what it feels like to go days without enough sleep, without a shower (much less time to think or write). I learned what it feels like to love unconditionally and fully, to feel more needed and more purposeful than I have ever felt before. This is the window in which I exist right now. When I fall into bed at the end of the day, I am overcome by a different kind of exhaustion than I have ever felt before, the kind of exhaustion that is the result of another human relying on you for each and every need. Exhausted from the intimacy, from the intensity of it all, yet unable to stop looking at this breathtaking little person sleeping so soundly. What a crazy beautiful window.
That said, it’s also a challenging window. It challenges me to examine who I am and what I want from life. There are many parents who are happy to swap their own dreams for the dreams of their children. I honor and respect them. For better or for worse, I am not one of them. There’s a fire in my gut that won’t quit. I need to write, to create, to do. I need to pour myself into projects that move me. I need to use my resources and make the time so that I can accomplish these things, for my own good, for the good of my family.
This window also challenges me to think about the long-term happiness of another very important person. I want, more than anything, to see Lyla discover her passions, to thrive in the moment, to feel a chill run down her spine when she hears a certain melody, when she sees the Matterhorn for the first time, when she reads (or creates) a theory that blows her mind. If I’ve learned one thing these past six months, it’s that she is a curious and open soul, someone who’s ready to take in (and take on) the world. This thrills me to no end.
It might be difficult, and it will definitely be messy at times, but I’ve decided we, the Bouchard three, can have it all. Three passionate souls, striving for our dreams, feeding each others’ interests and passions, truly sharing and rejoicing in not only who we are to one another, but in who we are to the world.
There will be times when my role is to help my husband and daughter become their best selves. There will be other times when I can focus on my passion projects. The windows will continue to shift, and perhaps overlap at times, but the essence of who we are will provide a sense of continuity, a through line.
I will continue to live in a state of gratitude: gratitude that I have not yet reached my apex by any stretch of the imagination, gratitude that my notions of success and happiness are constantly being challenged, gratitude that I have the opportunity to inhabit these incomparable and gratifying windows.