Frances Ruiz, our Ay Mama! guest blogger today, has a juris doctor degree in Law and practiced as an attorney in Puerto Rico from 1999-2003. Since 2003, she has worked as a freelance translator from Spanish to English and from English to Spanish for several companies and law firms. She lives in Fishers, Indiana, with her husband Quique and their two sons. Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing and teaching.
Ok, it's official, I either have writer's block or I am a classical procrastinator. I think it's both. Nina asked me to write on her blog a couple of weeks ago. I have three drafts and nothing good to print! This is my last chance, it's Saturday, the deadline, and I have to go to my son's best friend's birthday party in two hours!
If I do make this deadline and write something worth reading, it is for the simple reason that I "escaped" my home, drove to Borders and found a quiet spot to write.
This is what I do lately. After two boys (Javier, seven and Daniel, three), and therapy, I realized that, in order to think and get inspired, I need to be alone and I need silence. That is very difficult to achieve at home when Javier and Daniel, two very normal boys, full of wit and energy, either wrestle around me, fight, pretend play, and run around the house as if it were a race track. Or they may be constantly asking for something: "Mamá, quiero leche", "Mamá, dame algo de comer", "Mamá, ¿cómo se abre esto?" (Translation: "Mom, I want milk", "Mom, I am hungry", "Mom, how do you open this"). Granted, I decided to be a stay-at-home Mom and, as a responsible adult, I need to own the consequences of my decisions. I love staying home with them because I have had the joy of seeing them crawl, walk, run, and speak their first words. I have had the pride of being their first teacher. I have taught them how to speak and write in Spanish. I recently taught Javier how to tie his shoelaces and I taught Daniel how to put on his winter coat by himself. There is no greater feeling than to hear my kids utter the words "I love you" every day. It is rewarding to hear other people say how well-mannered they are because that means that reminding them constantly and repeatedly, "Say the magic words, please", "Say thank you, "clean your hands", "be nice" have paid off.
Therefore, up to now, seven years after quitting my job as an attorney, I have no regrets about the decision I made to stay at home with my children.
However, I've always had an extremely insatiable creative mind. Therefore, I find repetition tiresome. A problem when your kids need it daily...hey, they learn by repetition, right? I started getting depressed because I felt that I was not accomplishing anything significant. Though my family and friends kept reassuring me that raising children was the most valuable task in the world! Still, I kept working as a freelance translator, I started a small business of making bookmarks, I continued teaching Spanish class to Javier and two other girls and I engaged in any "extracurricular" activity I could find.
Guess what? I was constantly exhausted, I felt guilty that I was not spending quality time with the boys and my husband got the brunt. It's for better or worse, right? My mind was really crowded and projects were left unfinished. I was a mess.
Then, for our ten year anniversary, my husband and I decided to go to Spain to visit my cousin, Pilar, and her family. My husband's sole requirement was that we go alone, no kids. Leaving my boys for ten days? As appealing as it sounded, I was very worried. I wasn't comfortable with the idea until I had everything planned A to Z. They exasperate me sometimes, but they are still my most precious gifts! Thank God, everything worked out. We travelled to Puerto Rico, left the boys with their grandparents and registered them at a camp there for 10 days. Off we went.
As glamorous as it seems to go to Europe by ourselves, the first thing I asked my cousin to grant me was sleep. Our first two days in Spain were all about sleeping, eating and sleeping. I also did not make ANY decision at all! It was liberating to let OTHERS plan for me. To let others decide what to do, what to see, and where to go. I missed my kids, but I was very happy to let my mind and soul rest.
I needed rest to free clutter from my mind. It worked. After returning from Spain, my husband and I began having date nights every Friday to reconnect and to get at least an hour of uninterrupted conversation. It means having a babysitter, but it is worth the expense. That summer, I also hired a babysitter for 4 hours a week to have free time to focus on cleaning the clutter we have accumulated over the years. Got rid of old clothes, toy, and other unnecessary junk and reorganized all the closets. We can now WALK in our walk-in closet.
My new mission was to get rid of clutter, not only around the house, but from my mind as well. I needed to think clearer.
I no longer stress if I do not do EVERYTHING. I have learned to say NO to some things in order to fully accomplish others. And, finding this simple balance, I have managed to continue to translate, I still make bookmarks as party favors, I still teach Spanish to Javier, Laila and Daniela and I continue to volunteer certain days at my children's schools. I still spend two hours or so a day with the boys, playing, feeding or taking them to sports or school activities. I even have time for an occasional coffee with a friend. But, most importantly, I have learned to "escape" to quiet havens to provide my mind the silence it needs and, hence, be clutter free. If I do that, I can be fully "present" around my boys and hubby. And fully enjoy those wrestling tickle attacks we have every week. I always win J
My New Year's Resolution: Keeping it simple. That's it.
PS- I leave you a quote from one of my favorite persons in the world: Mahatma Gandhi. I hope you also find a way to a clear path!
"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearerlight, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness"
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