I love watching Zoe interact with new people. She seems to soak up information like a sponge, and people may tell her different words for things or play different games and suddenly she’s learned something new. For instance, last Christmas it was her cousin Colin who finally taught her to crawl. She had been working on it and wasn’t far off, but when he showed her how it just popped. Or, more often, after we’ve visited someone else we notice a ton of new behaviors right away. She’s always learning.

I am not too old to learn. This has been an amazing six weeks. We’ve been away from home now for over a tenth of Zoe’s whole life (!), playing with colleagues and friends old and new, and mostly staying in other people’s homes. I’m paying attention and have made some resolutions for my return home.

1. I will clean up the kitchen right away after each meal. Having Steve’s mom with us for 2 weeks reminded me of how clean a person can keep things without stress. At home we have a helper every other week for the serious cleaning – toilets, floors, dog hair, etc. But this past year I have gotten out of the habit of doing the dishes immediately, and I had never been in the habit of really scrubbing down the counters and stove at the same time. This is obviously ridiculous. I prefer to enter a clean kitchen, and it doesn’t take any more time cumulatively to clean as I go than to do it all at the end of the day, and certainly less time than it takes to harangue Steve into doing it. Come to think of it, I know where I got the idea that dishes were allowed to wait – that’s from Steve – but now that I’ve lived with his mother for an extended period I have no idea where HE got that idea.

2. I can dress better. I have plenty of jewelry, and actually plenty of cute clothes, too, and I probably fit most of them now. There is no reason that I should always appear in shorts and one of the same three t-shirts. I can do better.

3. I can use cloth towels in the kitchen to wipe counters and wash dishes and clean up the baby. So much more economical than paper towels, and if I wash them every day or so they won’t get so funky. We do laundry often anyway. So my next investment is a bunch of good quality dish towels, and I will commit to keeping them going.

4. I never need to be a diva professionally. I do not need my ego stroked. This is not a new thought for me, but one to which I am recommitting. I think I will never be too good to move my own chair or to sit in the one provided or to take suggestions from my colleagues.There’s a difference between being confident and being cocky, and between taking care of oneself professionally and insisting on perfect conditions for every situation. Sometimes things around me are not awesome, but that does not need to impact my performance ever.

5. There is plenty of time in the day. I am working hard here – rehearsals or concerts every day for two weeks. And I am practicing fairly well. And I am running. And I am writing, and still I can spend an hour in the pool with Zoe watching her learn to swim, or play with her in my bed in the morning for an hour, or cuddle on the swing for 15 minutes, or take her up to visit the ponies, or whatever. There is enough time in the day to give her my full attention quite a lot and still get my own work done while she is sleeping or while Steve takes his turn watching her. I resolve to remember that when I am home and the student load picks up again and I feel frantic and stressed. Zoe is just so wonderful right now and there is no need to push her away to scrape one more reed. There will be time and things will work out.