approaching 30

Yesterday afternoon I taught piano lessons for the first time in several weeks. My students all happened to be on vacation in August, so we all got a little break. I expected everyone to be rusty and out of practice, but except for one, they'd all been working on old assignments for the last week or so, and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick up right where we left off.

One of the things I really like about teaching right now is that I have very good relationships with all of my students' parents. This is of particular importance since I go to their houses to teach. I'm on their turf, and if there was tension, it would be bad news for everyone. I'm sure one reason I get along with them so well is that all of these folks (moms and dads) are academics. Some teach at UW, some do other work, but they all have post-graduate degrees and they all, of course, have kids, so they are all, therefore, sympathetic to my position in life at the moment. They respect me as a teacher and as a professional musician, and they are also interested in how the kids are doing, especially Daniel, since he spent time with them as a baby.

I thought I would have a hard time getting back into teaching after Anya was born. At first, it was hard. Everything is hard with a newborn. Working, not working, whatever you're doing, life is hard. Anya has always been very clingy and mom-centric, often screaming for the entire time I'm away from her (and because of this I am rarely away from her). She gives sitters a hard time. Lately Daniel has gotten clingy, too. I don't know if it's just his age and emotional development, or if he's jealous of all the attention his little sister gets from me, or what. I guess it's hard being two and a half. But when our new sitter showed up yesterday afternoon, I was genuinely worried about both Daniel and Anya. Daniel clung to my leg and said in his sad little voice, "Mom going to leave me." Anya's lower lip was trembling. What if they both sobbed the entire two and a half hours she had to stay with them? Would they (and she) be so miserable that I would have to give up teaching and stay home with them for good? It turned out fine, of course. I thought I would come home to a disaster, but everyone was happy, and I was reassured. Trust me, it hasn't always been that way.

When I arrived at one of my students' homes yesterday, the mom complimented my hair, which I had chopped off a couple weeks ago. She said it made me look younger. I realized, suddenly, that I'm getting to a point where looking younger than I am is a desirable thing.

I think about where I was ten years ago, and where I thought I'd be. Stuart was certainly in the picture, though we weren't thinking Big Future Plans yet. I had grand notions of volunteering overseas or studying abroad, learning languages, going to graduate school, becoming a professor. I didn't think "housewife" was on the agenda. (At least I got the grad school part done, though that certainly wasn't as glamorous as I thought it would be.) Of course, my sense of accomplishment has changed since I was 20 years old. I no longer think that staying home to take care of children goes against being a feminist, for example. (Quite the opposite, actually. I think parents who stay at home don't get enough credit, or respect. Or help.) I no longer think that the kind of musician I've chosen to be (teacher, collaborator) is inferior to solo performance. I also no longer believe that having a doctorate really makes someone an expert.

I'll be turning 30 at the end of this year, and while I don't consider 30 to be old by any means, it is a landmark age. Since my birthday is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year's, I rarely do much to celebrate. Someone usually bakes me a cake, and last year Stuart flushed a diaper down the toilet, but that's about it. This year, though, I want a party. With adults. And no kids. A reasonable amount of alcohol would be nice. And cake, certainly cake. I am not always completely happy with my position in life (the stagnating career is the big issue), but I am slowly coming to accept that what matters most is who you are. I am WAY more okay with that now than when I was 20. I think that's something to celebrate, and I want to do it with my friends.


Stuart said…
This year, I pledge to flush TWO diapers down the toilet. Or perhaps one for every year. I leave the choice to you.
Steph said…
You chopped your hair? Send a picture!

You have accomplished a hell of a lot between twenty and thirty. A doctorate and two kids? You should party hard--you have much to be proud of.

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