Unfortunately, I didn't come up with any new strategies to try while we were hiking (when I do my best thinking). I do think that part of my satisfaction when I'm home comes from the fact that while, yes, I am doing productive work around the home, it is work that I do not have to do. Like, I make sauerkraut at home because I think it's healthy to eat fermented vegetables, and it is much cheaper to make them at home than it is to buy them, but I don't have to make sauerkraut. I don't have to make yogurt. I don't have to sew Juniper a dress or knit her a sweater. I do those things because I want to, and because I enjoy it, but my family's sustenance and warmth don't depend on it. 100 years ago, I might not have gotten the same kind of satisfaction from these activities because I would have had to do them or my family would go naked, or our garden's bounty have gone to waste.
I do have to go to work. I think no matter how much you enjoy your profession, how much you think it matters in the world, it is still work. Teaching is a special brand because it is often a rarity that you leave the classroom feeling like you really achieved a lot that day. You don't really know what you've accomplished, being a teacher, until well after the fact, or sometimes never. There's not a 'everything is in its place, and my to-do list is tackled, and all is well' kind of a feeling at the end of each day. If anything, it is quite the opposite, where each day only reveals how much more there is to be done, and how inadequate your efforts in helping young minds unfold are.
I need to find some middle ground here. I am, mostly, at peace with the fact that I have to work, and I am happy that I have work which allows me so much time to spend with Juniper and with my family. Yet, I am still not feeling balanced about it. There are still some sticky places to be smoothed out. My baby girl turned eight months old yesterday. Time is so fleeting, and I think it's time to try and get some of that smoothing sorted out, or at least make some more peace with the stickyness.