This spring, my son Noah turned 10 years old. It’s hard to believe a whole decade has gone by since that little 7lb 14 oz babe joined our world. Those early days are a blur now. Diapers, bottles, onesies, first steps … all seem so far away. But thanks to gazillions of photos and videos, it’s easy to revisit his transformation from giggly, blond munchkin (with killer dance moves) to the thoughtful, bright, and funny kid he is today. (So proud of him!)
While it’s easy to look back and recognize growth and change in a child during 10 years, it’s much harder to measure that same slice of time in the life of an adult. In fact, we’re constantly trying to turn back time (hello, eye cream and hair color.)
But even if it’s harder to see on the outside, I know the last 10 years have transformed me in significant ways. As a parent, there have been a steady stream of new challenges, new reasons to celebrate, new worries, and new goals to work toward. And just when I thought I’d gotten the hang of it and found some equilibrium in the chaos, my kid would hit a new milestone (or get a baby brother!) and it was time to adjust again.
We all know there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook for parenting; you learn it by doing. And our kids depend on us to be up to the challenge, even though the responsibilities can feel daunting at times. Through this experience, without always realizing it, we are constantly developing new skills.
It’s not all about parenting either.
If we’re lucky (and I believe I have been) we continue to grow and change, not only as part of this experience but also alongside it.
When I became Noah’s mom, I didn’t stop being Liz. I am grateful for the unique opportunities I’ve had to refocus these last 10 years and develop new professional skills by following my passions. From France and food to arts, education and social justice, year by year, with the encouragement of my uber-supportive husband, I’ve been able to try on new projects.
Without full time childcare, I would work during my kids’ naps, while they spent a few hours at preschool, in the evenings or over weekends. Then suddenly when my youngest started kindergarten, a new world of opportunity emerged again.
For years I have been trying to figure out which full time career slot I could best fit in without realizing that I had already found what I love: writing on my terms. These last couple years, I have been able to dedicate progressively more time toward writing and focus on topics that intrigue and inspire me.
I’ve started claiming a professional space for this Liz: finally allowing this “side gig” to be a career and calling myself a writer; establishing regular work hours; setting up shop at Hygge, a great co-working space; creating a website and business cards (crowd goes wild for amazing design work of Tricia Tam!); and expanding my client list.
In celebration of all this, here are 10 ways I’ve changed in the last 10 years:
- I am more organized and better at juggling multiple projects.
- I wake up earlier (and go to bed earlier).
- I take better care of myself (including more dark, leafy greens, regular Kettlebell classes and occasional yoga).
- I now focus more on setting goals and finding ways to break them down into manageable tasks.
- I can create curriculum, plan lessons and teach adults (heck! I can even lead a trip for 10 to France.)
- I read more and from a wider variety of sources.
- I can run an 8K!
- I am more confident as a writer, having now covered many topics: from Broadway stars to local activists, superstar educators to French bakers, cool places down the street to hotspots around the world, charged political topics to tough convos with the kids.
- I have nurtured a growth mindset — more open to feedback, continual learning and the courage to try (and even to fail).
- I’ve learned that saying no can be just as important as saying yes, to make room for the things and people that really matter.
So, here’s to new adventures as we embark on the next 10 years! I hope you’ll stick around and see what happens…
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