My daughter came into our room last night, stood at my side of the bed with “Brown Bear” and waited for lift-off. Now, with Daddy gone to work and with Mommy at her desk, she has the whole bed to herself. Maybe that was her plan all along.
I often feel a crunch at this time of day. I should have written on the blog, should have gotten something done before I started to work on the big project. I’m two-thirds of the way through this revision and I must finish it before November. I promised myself that, for the first time in a decade, I would be project-free for NaNoWriMo.
And I promised myself that, for the first time in a year, I would finish a project.
The crunch between 6:54am and 7am is like a squeeze between two worlds. The sun is rising at my backside, and the moon set a long time ago. Now the countdown is about to begin. Two hours always seems to blur past, especially when the words are an ankle-deep puddle of garbage runoff and melting snow. No, No, I think, I don’t have time to write like this.
But this is the sacrifice I make. Because I love being a mother and I love being a writer and to have both I have to give myself limits. Otherwise I will have to turn the fail-safe key and step away from the latter.
We writers have a tendency to become obsessed with our work, spending hours staring out the window and living our lives only partially involved in conversation and everyday activities. And whenever I find myself falling into that habit, I’m forced to reset my limits and change my routine. Because my daughter deserves my time. Because I deserve to still be me.
I won’t lie. Goo does occasionally catch me working whenever I find a ten-minute gap in the day. But during those times, she’ll hand me post-it notes scribbled with her name, or with tiny wavy lines from top to bottom that she says are “stories” she wrote. I tack them to my computer and to my whiteboard and she grins because she knows she’s helped me immensely. And I feel the way I do when she picks up my camera and asks to take pictures with it and wanders around the house with my huge and heavy–and expensive–DSLR and takes a thousand pictures of our cat.
There was a time, years before she arrived, that my husband lived with a wife who was never fully present. I remember spending hours upon hours on end “working” (I even brought drafts on dates so I could edit between conversations). But when I rose from the dead, I swore to myself that I would never let that happen again. Not to him. Especially not to her. And a thousand times not to myself. Because I deserve to be present, too, right? Life is flying by and soon I’m going to fall off this tilt-o-whirl and I want to remember all the fun I had.
So the 6:54 anxiety is worth it. It reminds me that I can have the best of both worlds, while reminding me why I have this time crunch (not to mention it kicks me into gear and tells me to hurry up a’ready).
Still, it also means I have to pick and choose what I work on. So the blog is often set to the side. As are the short story ideas I come up with. As are the subs I swear I will send out every day.
But I suppose gratitude for these two hours keeps the grumbles away (some people don’t even get a few minutes to themselves). And the way I feel after Goo and I have just spent the morning watching Henry Selick movies and putting together her 250 piece owl puzzle (again) is just as awesome, if not more, than emailing a handful of poems to a magazine.
And now it’s 7:28. My heart has begun to pound and I’m clenching my jaw. My fingers are scattered all over this keyboard as I frantically try to get these words out and my head clear. Once I hit “publish” this post will go out into the world and a handful of people will read it and I will feel like I’ve run a marathon race.
But it’s time to wipe the sweat from my brow and start on the next one. I only have 1.5 hours left, after all.
Now I just have to move around slowly, make sure my coffee mug doesn’t make too much noise when I set it down, otherwise she’ll pop up in my bed at 7:30 and squeal, “it’s morning! I slept in my bed all night!”
Yeah right, Kid.