I took this picture of M when she wasn't yet two months old, when I was still on maternity leave and the days seemed to stretch out before me.
I went back to work in October, during a pretty full-on week. But thanks my fabulous my in-laws, who flew into the city and hovered around my meetings so that I could nurse M every few hours, I survived that hectic time. At more than one point in the week, I felt overwhelmed, out of sync, and ready to quit my job! But I pushed through. One afternoon late in the week, I found myself seated at a table with two human rights defenders from Guatemala. As we discussed their case, I remembered why I fell in love with this work to begin with.
I don't know how this work/life balance thing will ultimately pan out, but I hope I can strike a healthy medium. Right now, my attempt at balance includes a mix of working a (very) slightly reduced schedule, leaving the office at 3:30pm most days, working remotely, and carving out time to spend lunch with M everyday.
One of the things that causes me the most anxiety now is something that I have thrived upon - namely, international travel. I've managed to push off any international travel this year. There was the three-day trip to London that I jumped on and immediately backed off of once M was born. On the horizon is a meeting that keeps getting pushed back. Initially scheduled for Thailand, then India, the meeting will now either be held "somewhere in Africa," in Turkey, or in Thailand. I won't be able to escape that trip, but I'm hoping that by the time I go - for a week - M will be a little older. And then, there's the work trip to Nepal that keeps getting pushed back (indefinitely) and Peru, which will happen next October.
This is the longest period of time I've been grounded without international travel, and I crave a new stamp on my passport - but not yet, not if it means being apart from her, and not when she is so little. A dream I have, someday, is to travel across the world with her, or at least to a few far-flung places. I think fondly back to the French father-daughter pair I met in a ger in Mongolia. She, a blonde bubble of energy, was on her gap year. Father and daughter met in Mongolia for a three week tour of the Gobi Desert, after which she would travel to Nepal alone. I remember their talks, his encouraging words to her about hiking in Nepal, of the Annapurna trail dotted with tea houses.
That's the dream, but baby steps first.