July 2010


Maternity leave is over and there you are back at your desk. You have spent many hours in this place, and yet now the environment seems surreal…

Your baby stares back at you from the picture frame to the right of your monitor.  That face is so darling it brings tears to your eyes.  Your heart aches as you think about the time you used to have together.  But you know that you are giving her wings as she is out in the world making new friends and discovering herself.  So you take a deep breath and swallow the lump in your throat.

Your diplomas hang on the wall above you.  A reminder of that fresh-faced, power-hungry twenty-something who still lives somewhere deep inside you.  Many moons ago you were up all night writing essays and drinking coffee by the pot cramming for finals.  Then after graduation you overcame even greater obstacles: making an impression, dealing with unconstructive criticism, living in airports, taking on responsibilities far above your pay scale.  You’ve worked hard to get here.

Your phone is silent.  A year is a long time to be away from an office environment and the players have changed.  No one is running to you desperate for a fix to their last-minute emergency because they’ve forgotten how thrilled you are to be a part of the solution.  No one is calling you for the inside scoop because you just don’t have it anymore.  The world doesn’t stand still, but you’re back in it now and in time you will once again be an indispensable member of the team.

Your paycheck waits in your inbox.  How novel it seems to bring in an income.  You are sharing the load in your relationship and providing yourself and your baby with security in case the unthinkable happens.  You will be able to empower her with education and see her down the aisle.  You will retire in time to be there when she becomes a mother.

Your coffee steams and lets off a delicious aroma.  For the first time in a year you will enjoy the entire cup before it gets cold.  This is your time to remind yourself that, though your life will never be the same as it was, you are still your own person.  And this sense of self makes you a better mother.

So turn on our computer, make a few calls and sift through your inbox.  But when the work day is over, hold your baby, kiss your husband and congratulate yourself for keeping it together.

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Do you love your home?  I mean, really LOVE it?

I do.

We live in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, Canada and in my world there are few better places.  This morning I awoke in our charming nearly hundred year old home and looked out the window to see the morning rowers doing their drills in the pond across the street.  I prepared Tess for her day and hopped on my bike for a leisurely 20 minute cruise to work, past the lighthouse and up beautiful tree-lined streets.

We walk the beach every day.  In the summertime, a lovingly restored carousel welcomes children of all ages for only a nickel per ride.  Depending on the season or time of day, there are sun worshipers, dog walkers, kite boarders or sandcastle architects toiling away at their craft.  We pick up some ice cream or, if grandparents are babysitting, we hit a patio for a couple of beers.  We stroll down the pier and it feels like we’re approaching the end of the earth.

Last night I took the dog out before bedtime.  I carefully examined each home we passed and took in the quaint characteristics, as no two homes on our block look the same.  I rested on a bench near the water and observed a breathtaking sunset reflecting off the lake.

At the end of May the best farm stand opens down the street and we learn about new produce, growing techniques and indulge in freshly baked cinnamon buns.  Further down the road our vintner neighbours harvest the grapes for the pinot grigio will one day enjoy with dinner.

This past week-end we took up sailing and cast off from the marina down the street.  From our 24′ vessel we conquered the harbour and I came to realize that from our home we can set sail to virtually anywhere in the world.  Now we scope the docks in search of for sale signs and plan our eventual voyage.

We don’t live in our car.  We can afford our house.  We grow our own vegetables.  And each day I chart the progress of the Japanese white pine we planted in our front yard last year to commemorate Tess’ birth.

Does this sound like paradise?  Or maybe you’ve found your own little piece of heaven.  Where you live might be the most important decision you ever make… if this post leaves you with a sense of longing then maybe it’s time to rethink the place you call home.