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A Little Bit Blue.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m wrapping up some work-related tasks for the week. The sun finally came out, though the air is cold for being the middle of summer.

After enjoying an Ethiopian buffet for lunch, I was waiting to pay. The owner had to go hunt down the debit machine, so while I waited, my eyes gravitated toward the television.

I’m not a news person. You might call me ignorant, and you might be right. But I’m a sensitive person and news has the tendency to quickly turn me cynical.

On the television, the news was detailing the most recent exploits of ICE. Pulling people from cars, separating parents from children. I almost broke down in tears right there. So easy to say from my point of privilege, as a Canadian woman. But how is it that these things are happening now, in this day and age? How has the fear of immigrants gone this far?

My problems are trivial, but they’re mine. I’m not at risk of deportation or separation from my family, which should be the end of that thought. But still, my own little concerns, little though they may be, feel heavy and weighty in my life.

We’ve been looking at houses in the city, closer to childcare, further from Michael’s work. Currently I drive 1.5 hours (one way) in order to have access to quality childcare. I’ve been doing this a couple times a week for over half a year, and the longer it goes on, the more rage I feel, rage against a broken system. Canada is better than the United States, but childcare is expensive and not readily available to all. It’s why so many moms decide to stay home while their children are young, permanently affecting their ability to advance their career in a meaningful way.

I want to be a mom AND have a meaningful career. It shouldn’t be so hard to have both.

Moving to the city means a daily commute of 1.5 hours for my husband, so it isn’t a fair trade-off. At the same time, it isn’t fair that I have to drive so far just to work, especially with a child who doesn’t always like the long drive. Few things are more stressful than inconsolable screaming during endless highway stretches.

If I could learn to be happy with what is. If I could embrace being a stay-at-home mom, and put work on the backburner. Even for a year. We could ride out Michael’s work contract and consider moving afterward. When I write it out, when I think about it, it seems like the obvious answer. Just deal with it, right?

Yet when I turn that over in my heart, I just feel blue. Heavy. Like the story of my next year will be defined by a resigned sigh.

Staying at home and being a good parent is challenging, but I don’t mind it. I spent the first year of Jane’s life scaling way back on work and focusing on being a stay-at-home mom. I made good friends centered around playdates. I cooked food and kept the house in order. It was fine. But now I’m in a phase where I want to focus on work. Especially because the possibility exists of becoming a parent to an infant again, which will reset the cycle.

The problem is the lack of choice. If I had the choice, I would work 3-4 days a week right now. It’s just too much driving, too much time away from home. A regular 8-hour day turns into a 12-hour day.

Still, there are real issues in the world and I’m stuck on this one. I’m complaining about a commute, but at least I have a family to commute to.

Many women would kill to be in my position. We can afford for me to stay at home with my daughter. Between my (small) income and my husband’s (slightly less small) income, we’ve been able to make it work in our little town. Many women work long hours with low pay and don’t have the option to stay home, even if they wanted to. Other women, like myself, feel somewhat forced into the situation, and a little resentful about it as a result.

Jane loves her current daycare. She’s excited to go there, and happily waves goodbye when I drop her off. Playing with the kids is a nice reprieve for her. The thought of pulling her out as the winter months approach, a real possibility, is a heartbreaking.

Where I live, winter driving can be unpredictable. Blowing snow, blizzards, fog, and ice are all reasonably common. In the peak of winter, we only have 8 daylight hours, and highway driving in the dark in these conditions only exacerbates them. Last winter I braved the highways once a week for daycare because I was desperate, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. It’s one thing if it’s just me in the car; it’s another entirely when my daughter’s in there with me.

So then Michael is supposed to drive in these conditions, and every day? Is that a fair trade-off?

We’ve been making serious plans to list our house in the fall and to start looking for a new place in the city. This should thrill me, but I’m left feeling guilty and a little bit blue. My husband is such a generous and kind person. Moving makes his life so much harder, but he wants to make my life easier.

Why can’t I do the same for him? Put it off for a year, or even half a year? Try to shove that resigned sigh back down and make the most of it?

So we’re floating in the ether of indecision, with no decision on either side being an easy one. I’m waiting for that alternative – that brilliant idea that is so perfect and I can’t believe why I didn’t think of it before.

Like maybe we just go travel. Do the opposite of settle down. Embrace the ether. But then I think about it, and it seems prohibitively difficult. Too difficult to be worth it.

What about getting a little condo in the city, so I can have a place to live during the work week, and then go home for the weekends? A temporary solution for the next school year? But that’s expensive and I don’t want to be away from my husband so much, and to have him be away from his daughter so much.

We’ve been having a wonderful summer so far. The pacing has been good and we’ve had lots of time together as a family. In some moments I’m blindingly happy. In some moments, it’s clouds over that sunny sky. It’s a little bit blue. Thanks for reading.

This Post Has 7 Comments


    I am a beginner piano student and found your PianoTV website a few days ago and was blown away by the quality and quantity of the content. So much of it seems ‘Taylor made’ for me. So then I landed here on your blog
    You and your family are in a very difficult position. I have no advice for you except to say the obvious which is this situation will not last forever. Not much comfort there. I assume you have to pay for the daycare your daughter receives and it occurred to me, as I expect it has to you that an option is to bring a baby sitter into your home occasionally to free you up for work. Or start a cooperative arrangement with other families in your area for daycare. But, again I expect you have considered feasible options and there are none.
    Western European countries are way ahead of the U.S. and apparently Canada when it comes to child care, parental leave, etc.
    On a lighter note, I saw your video about your 2018 reading program. I agree with your description of Murakami’s book. I read the Windup… and two others mostly because he got so much hype and occasionally I like to read foreign and/or offbeat authors. At the apex of those kinds of authors is Clarice Lispecter’s “Hour of the Star”. if you want to read it I will tell you which translation I prefer.
    The only benefit I got from reading Murakami is one of his characters loved to listen to Liszt’s Annees de Pelerinage played by Lazar Berman so I bought it and enjoy it very much.
    I live in Michigan. If I lived closer to you I would offer to baby sit : -). Since I am a member of the ‘retired’ piano student group, I have the time.
    Wishing you all the best,

    1. Allysia

      You are wonderful for taking the time to share this lovely comment. You’re absolutely right in that it won’t last forever – I’m trying to keep that in mind and be content for now. Making big plans for the future is helpful. 🙂 Canada is actually pretty decent with childcare, it just so happens I live in a place where the demand is high and supply is low. But Europe provides wonderful subsidies which makes care so much more affordable! Quebec has something similar, I think.

      I love book recommendations – please tell me which translation you like!

      Annees de Pelerinage is my favorite collection by Liszt, especially the first one (the third is really abstract for me).

      Thanks again for a lovely comment, and take care!

  2. Heinz Topol

    Benjamin Moser seems to me to capture more of the poetry of Clarice Lispector’s language and his version had better flow and the story was easier to follow.
    The ‘Hour of the Star’ is a novella so it is only about 80 pages, which is good since it is a bit hard to follow and I found it to be an intense read. I should mention that it is not a particularly happy story but, for me it was a very rewarding book to read because there is so much beauty in it despite the physical and emotional poverty of the main character. And I will always remember the ending, which is humorous, ironic and I could use more adjectives but I do not want to ruin the surprise. If you manage to fit the book into your busy schedule, please let me know what you thought of it.
    P.S. the book was my selection for our book discussion group and they hated it, but that made me appreciate the book even more : -)

    1. Allysia

      Thanks – I’ve added it to my list! My book club picks are typically divisive as well. 🙂

  3. Heinz Topol

    I forgot to mention another book you may be interested in “A Romance on Three Legs” by
    Katie Hafner. It is about Glenn Gould’s search for the perfect piano. So it is three biographies intertwined: Glenn Gould, his favorite tuner Verne Edquist and the Steinway CD318. A great book for pianomaniacs. Which reminds of a documentary entitled “Pianomania” which is primarily about a piano technician and his working with Pierre-Laurent Aimard to get his piano ready for a recording session. Also well worth looking for imho.

  4. Akua Hinds

    This is a nice post, Allysia! I can totally understand where you’re coming from. I hope you and your husband figured out a good solution to your living and work situations. And I hope Jane is happy and has sweet baby/toddler friends to bond with.

    1. Allysia

      Jane does have some awesome toddler “friends” (if you can call them that at this age, ha!). Thanks for the comment – we’re figuring it out, step by step. 🙂

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