Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Big World, Little World


I had an interesting conversation with my older daughter last night. After months of work our Climate Interactive Project has left Sustainability Institute, where it was born and grew, to become a project of the Washington DC-based New Venture Fund. With that milestone (and the hours of legal and other decisions) behind us, she was expecting more time and attention from her mother in these last weeks of summer.

I, just back from a week at the UN climate talks in Germany, and on a fast learning curve about setting up all the organizational provisions to take care of a team of six, feel more pressed for time than ever.

We had a good talk, but no resolution.

All in all, I think I do OK as a mom. In the past day or two, I drove her to her pet-sitting job, which is well within walking/biking distance, left the computer to play "Moose In the House" with the little boy she was babysitting downstairs, and took a walk with her in the misty pre-dark to help take care of her chickens. All on top of the usual services of cooking and laundry.

But I do work a lot. And it is not easy to stop thinking about deadlines, strategy, or the ticking clock of rising CO2 levels. There are a lot of times when my kids have to repeat themselves because my mind is not in the room with them, but off somewhere else, racing through lists or worries or possibilities.

One of the big fears I carry through this life is that someday when I am an old woman my kids will ask me why I didn't do more to prevent climate change.

Last night's conversation reminded me that there is another extreme which I fear just as much. When I am an old woman they might say, why were you gone so much when I was growing up? Why did you sometimes put everything you had into your work without reserving enough for me?

I haven't found any easy answers to this constant pull between the big world and my little one. Doing my best seems to mean doing the work as well as possible, looking up from it as much as possible, and remembering to be grateful for everything, especially the chance to try to weave a life that serves my family and something bigger, too. It's not a perfect weaving, not a flawless tapestry, but more of a patchwork quilt. That's good enough for now, and maybe some of the more visible ragged edges and loose threads of the quilt of my life will even leave my girls feeling free to create their own messy and complicated patchwork lives, stitching together some of this and some of that, feeding their souls and hopefully the world.

1 comment:

SKKhan said...

Thoughtful, as always, Dr. Sawin...wishing you and the important work you do on climate change my best wishes and support!