In the years between the toddler-worry and migraine-worry, I finished a graduate degree and I began teaching college part-time. My husband Scott teaches full-time while I drive to neurologists and allergists, and I work to get kids what they need. When I sometimes worry about my own professional progress and our family financial progress, I remember the rich conversations around the table at the end of the school day. I remember the gallons of homemade chicken soup. Madeleine will leave for college in a little more than a year, and Brendan will follow her out into the world. I have these few moments to walk alongside them.
This family life is a little slower than I would like. This professional life is a little slower than I would like. I don't get to choose my children's health. But I can find the joy of this pace.
I owe a great deal to that earlier mom-training in solitude. I needed to step away from the social buzz, to step toward my family, and myself. It was hard, every day, but it crystallized my desire to connect more deeply through writing. The Quiet Hour became a life practice, a form of prayer. Writing became a form of prayer. I would not have chosen this path had I dawdled at those beautiful parties, talking.
I pray that Madeleine will find a way to be comfortable in this world, just as Brendan did. If she cannot be headache free, then I hope she finds a way through that passage, too. When they go off to lead their own adult lives, perhaps I will fill my days with all the missed professional gigs and museum trips. Or perhaps I will simply take the pace I have been given. Time will tell.