The Fickleness of Freedom

I found a sheet of paper yesterday in the back of an old binder with some notes I’d scribbled to myself.  Back in February 2009, I sat in Starbucks and scrawled down some song lyrics I was hearing and liked.  I wanted to google the song when I got home.  (Turns out, it was “Four Strong Winds” by Neil Young.)  Anyways, that paper stayed in the back of my binder, and in February 2010, I wrote myself another note in the same place:

“This paper has been in the back of my binder for a very long time.  Gone are the sitting-in-Starbucks days, wasting time on figuring out who wrote a song!  Now I wipe up barf and wolf down my Tazo Zen tea at breakneck speed (any irony there??), while vigourously bouncing my son to calm his wails.  That’s my idea of a hellish Starbucks date.”

Now it’s February 2012.  I couldn’t help laughing as I read.  Incredible how the concept of freedom changes over the years, isn’t it?  Starbucks date?!  Are you kidding?  That’s out of the question for a number of reasons.

#1 – The closest one is over an hour away!  Ahh, life in the boonies!
#2 – That wailing infant is now an energetic toddler who’s magnetically attracted to any sort of shelf display.  Try chasing him and bouncing a different wailing baby simultaneously.
#3 – Tazo Zen tea?  Nope, it’s caffeinated.  I’m a nursing mama.  The baby won’t sleep if I drink a single mouthful of caffeine!  Trust me, I’ve done careful trials because I’m a bit of a coffee fiend…

My mom told me that you never realize how much freedom you have as a young adult until you’ve lost it  Once again, she was right!

“Free time” used to be that rarely-used though much anticipated word that my elementary school teachers would say, allowing us to do whatever quiet activity we felt like.

Freedom then became the ability to drive alone – getting my G2 license and driving to Toronto every weekend for music lessons with my sister.  That was pretty near the epitome of freedom for a 17-year-old, except for the fact that I had to drive my parents’ minivan!

I felt free when I moved overseas, far away from parental interference.  Then I went to university and started managing my own money; despite the student debt, it was all mine, and that felt good in a perverse sort of way!

While in school,  I went out whenever I wanted, drank if I wanted, slept in to whatever hour.  The only constraints on my life were attending class and any papers that were due.  Oh, and making sure there was enough food to subsist off of in the fridge!

I got a job in second year.  Suddenly some of my freedom was curtailed by the necessity to get to work each day, make it to all my classes, and fit in those darn English papers.  Yet still, I was never responsible for anyone except myself!  Then came the kids…

Now my idea of freedom is Friday mornings – like right now – when the toddler is at nursery school for 2.5 hours.    And what do I do with that delicious sliver of pure ease (read: only one child to look after)?  I run errands, all those darn errands that I’ve been putting off because the toddler would make them simply too difficult!  This morning, I spent my freedom at the computer store and at the post office.  Then I rushed home to nurse the baby, change his diaper, and squeeze in a few short minutes of writing, so as not to feel that the morning was a complete loss of personal accomplishments!  This, sadly, is my current idea of free time.  Will it ever return to the blissful state that it once was?

No more time to think about it – I’ve got to go pick up my son!

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4 thoughts on “The Fickleness of Freedom

  1. This made me value my free time that much more! At 27, I have no kids and two jobs. I still have plenty of free time and travel a ton. But I look forward to kids. Someday. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Niiice! Take advantage of it while you can!!! But, despite my complaints, losing that freedom for the sake of kids is definitely worth it.

  2. Freedom: It seems once you are a Mom, you are always a Mom. Even when the children are older, they still require your time. During their school time, I received emergency calls, such as I forgot my swim suit, or they left an assingment at home and they needed it before their next class. “It counts as 50% of my marks” I hear them mention it. Now that they are working, it is “Mom could you please watch our dog?” We do these things out of love.

    1. You know, the funny thing is that even when I complain about it, I enjoy investing so much time and effort into these little guys! It’s so exciting and rewarding. I hope they feel they can always call me in emergencies!

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