the importance of relaxing

I'm in this odd position today of not having enough to do. With all that I have on my plate at the moment, you'd think this would never be the case for me. I have, however, caught up on all the tasks I need to do for the various school and preschool-related volunteering I've signed up for, the laundry is done, dinner is going to be leftovers, I need to take a day off from running, and the kitchen floor needs scrubbing but...meh. I have to be really desperate before I spend my free time scrubbing the floor. I've even gone over all the music I have to know for now. I actually just agreed to play a chunk of difficult rep for a horn recital in April, but I won't get that music until tonight, so I don't even have that to practice.

It feels weird to have a few hours of free time. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Things will pick up and get busy soon enough, so I should appreciate this rare afternoon I have and enjoy it. I find that oddly hard to do. I started on finishing up a sweater I started a few weeks ago, but after ten minutes of sitting and knitting without someone to talk to or the TV in the background, I got twitchy and put it down. I have a book to read, but I just have a really hard time reading in the middle of the day. It feels like time wasted, for some reason.

The last year or so I've thought a lot about whether I should pursue steady employment. A few jobs have come up, most music-related, but some not, that I came this close to applying for, but didn't in the end. These jobs have all been full-time year-round positions, and the thing that stopped me from applying more than anything else is that I have absolutely no idea what I would do about childcare. I know plenty of women with children who pursue paid work, but they all have family nearby to pick up the slack, or a spouse who stays at home or has flexible work hours, or they themselves have flexible work hours, or they only have one child, or their job is tied in with the academic calendar so they have flexible hours during all those breaks and vacations from school, or in a very few cases, they have jobs that pay so well they can just afford a nanny and all the summer camps they want to sign up their kids for. None of these things is true for me. The best position that came up required a graduate degree and still paid less than the federal poverty level for a family of four. If I'd gotten that job, most of my salary would have gone to child care.

It's not that I don't love the work I do for my family. And it's not that I don't love the work I do as a freelance musician, either. I just feel often that I'm not living up to my full potential. I was never destined to be famous or give concerts in Carnegie Hall. I just wish there were some way I could feel like I'm entitled to some respect without having to explain myself all the time. Most of the time, I forget that I'm technically Dr. ____, not just Susan.

You see what happens when I try to relax? I just get all existential. It's so tiresome.

Maybe I'll go read my book now after all.


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