I can still picture that moment in my head. We were in San Pedro, Guatemala. Cross-legged, sitting on the balcony at the hostel, I was watching the sky fading into a deep midnight blue behind the volcanoes peaks. A half-smoked cigarette dangling in one hand, a half-eaten pan de banana in the other, I was indulging my two vices without the least guilt. Feng was beside me, listening to his MP3 player, probably playing a classic rock tune. We didn’t need to talk, we didn’t need to do anything, rush anywhere. We had all the time in the world and no worries.
And in case you were wondering, no, this is not where Mark was conceived.
Life caught up with us as soon as we came back from Central America in February 2012. Within a few weeks, I learned that my mother needed emergency surgery and I found out that I was pregnant. I had just quit a permanent position and I was working hard trying to find clients and build my translation and editing freelance business.
I did the expected thing: I freaked out.
I tend to be a professional worrier in the best of times so just imagine how anxious I was with real issues and life-changing events to face—issues that, for the most part, I had no control over.
I was worried about my mother and spent hours on the phone with her planning my emergency trip to France and cheering her up about the upcoming surgery.
I was worried about money and I cursed my ill-timed decision to quit a well-paid permanent position with benefits—I wouldn’t be eligible for maternity leave as a self-employed freelancer.
I was worried about life in general. I felt like I was thrown into a battle without a weapon. I wasn’t ready for whatever was coming after me but I was forced to fight and resist.
I spent the following months trying to regain a sense of control over my life and focusing on making it through the days, the weeks, the months. I turned into an emotional bitchy monster. Some days, all it took was a glance in the mirror to make me sob uncontrollably.
I’m incredibly grateful that overall, things turned out well for us. And yes, I realize a lot of people have it tough too, and that I may sound whiny.
My mother’s surgery went well and she recovered. Mark’s birth was an amazing life experience and he is just perfect. And overall, I don’t regret my decision to return to freelancing—I love being able to combine my translating, editing and copywriting skills and managing my own workload.
But while physically speaking I completely “recovered” from the baby-making and the delivery, I’m not yet back to the person I used to be. I’m still struggling to find balance and to “let it go” a bit.
I feel like a trained for a marathon. The race is over but I’m still running and I’m not sure where the finish line is, if any.
I need to slow down and take off my running shoes for a bit. I need to indulge, to stop feeling guilty about everything I do and I don’t and to take pleasure in life’s little moments of happiness. It doesn’t take much: marvelling over Mark’s smiles, admiring a nice shot I manage to take, feeling the pride of praise over a well-written article, getting positive feedback from my clients, enjoying good food, sharing a joke or having a hug with Feng, experiencing something new, breaking the routine…
Life is beautiful. Challenging, tough at times, but ever surprising and oh-so-interesting.
I want to be carefree again, even if just for a moment.