23 October 2007

Shifting Gears

Jon taught me how to drive a car with manual transmission when we were in college. We've owned manual transmissions ever since.

There's a moment when you shift from one gear to the next--clutch in, shift gears, let clutch out while pressing the gas pedal--when the car seems to pause. You can feel it in automatics, too. When the car isn't in one gear or the other. The engine is still going, of course, but the momentum is lost, just for a split second. You could be preparing to speed up or slow down, but you haven't done it yet.

That's about where I am right now. In the middle of shifting gears. In the space between.

When Katrina was born, everything else fell away. This hungry, demanding, squalling creature took over both day and night. I gladly let everything go except the imperative to love and care for her. Because of her nature and mine, I found the job all-consuming for a long time, perhaps longer than high-energy, highly organized moms would. For a while, I fit in editing and writing projects here and there, but my rose-colored vision of mommy writing on the computer while a quiet, contented child played at my feet never came to pass. (Go ahead and chuckle; I'll wait.)

When Katrina started preschool, I started to try to lose weight. I went to the gym at least three times a week, and that combined with the peace of doing various errands by myself (plus a little blog writing) filled up those three hours a day.

I'm still going to the gym, and all of those other things to keep the household running. And if I let it, I can fill even those additional hours with this and that. In my time-management-challenged world, tasks truly do expand to fill the time I have. I can take a long time to peruse labels in the commissary, take an extra half-hour during lunch to finish reading just one more page, and stay on the Internet long enough to read "just one more" thing. And then it is time to go pick up Katrina.

But I do not want my days to be aimless, idle. I now have the gift of time, and I want to use in purposefully. I've thought of re-starting my freelance business (which would be a bit more complicated to manage here in Germany than it was in the U.S.), or of trying to write a novel, or any of a dozen things. But what keeps coming to the top is a desire to help. I'm not sure with what, though. I have a few ideas, too many, really. There's a crisis pregnancy center here. There's Fisher House. There's a score of things I could start up at church.

I haven't made a decision yet. It feels more important than it should, I think. It has the feel of remaking my life...or even starting anew. My prior life fell away naturally, easily, while I held my daughter close to my heart for hours at a time. Not so easy is figuring out what to to with my hands--and time--now that they are free.

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