6:54am: Balancing Life and Writing and Motherhood

cropped-img_20160205_000111.jpgMy 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.

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3 thoughts on “6:54am: Balancing Life and Writing and Motherhood

  1. Love your post. My little one is still very little so I write on my blog most of the times when she falls asleep in my arms after having her milk. Type my thoughts on my phone notes and mail them to myself. Admitting this sounds so insane. Wow. First time I said it. Lots of luck and keep blogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally did the same when Goo was a baby. I wore her in the Boba during her afternoon naps and wrote. I think we parent writers feel a sense of guilt for indulging our passions, but it’s important to remind ourselves that we are still individuals, and are made up of many roles. Momma isn’t just a momma, you know? You sound like you’ve found a decent balance, and as your kiddo grows I’m sure you’ll continue to work it out. Good luck to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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