The new reality

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Writing has gotten a lot harder for me lately, exponentially so. I know, I know: I have a newborn. Plus a toddler. The moment one goes down for a nap, the other starts fussing. While one eats, I'm feeding the other, then scarfing down whatever I can lay my hands on, in under five minutes, and it's usually gone cold. Then someone starts crying because she needs to be held constantly, or another starts crying because she's bumped her head on something. It's a very, very familiar story for mothers, one barely worth writing down. We're busy people.

Problem is, I refuse to define myself as a "stay-at-home mother." When people ask me what I do, I'm a writer, case closed. I work from home. This fact defines my day--it means that if both girls are sleeping, I'm not resting, or even doing something like preparing dinner. It means that I have responsibilities that extend beyond babies--even if these responsibilities are mostly enforced by myself, the part of me that says, "You need to get words on the page. You need to write today. You need to get further into this book."

I work every day--or at least, I attempt to. The truth of the matter is, if I don't manage to get much writing done that day, I am officially in a bad mood. Not writing ruins my day. I'm cranky and non-communicative at dinner, and my temper's short all evening. I don't want to connect with anyone. I don't want to play, cook, or talk. I just want to shut myself into a room, by myself, to get something down on the page.

How many words can I really expect to get down every day? Right now, I'm writing this in between nursing sessions. My baby squirms on my chest. I'm trying to eat a bowl of cereal, because I'm famished. I'm jiggling her, hoping to keep her at bay another five, maybe ten minutes. I don't have time to edit this post, much less create content I'm really proud of.

Working from home and simultaneously being present for both of my kids: That's the goal, and I'm currently not meeting it. I feel like I'm keeping about six balls in the air, while about ten others sit ignored at my feet. The most obvious casualty of my choices is housework. I don't think I've cleaned the bathroom in about two months. Yes, two months. I try to do a load of laundry every day (there's spit-up on everything--my clothes, hers, my sheets--plus we do cloth diapers), but most of the clean stuff is getting wrinkled in a basket in my room, or sitting in one of the machines still. The only time I get cleaning done is when I can somehow incorporate it into playing with my toddler: The other day, we took a pretend ride to Mars on a rocket ship, then swept dust from the satelites aka swept the kitchen floor. Spoon full of sugar, right? I'm still working on some way scrubbing the toilet could be part of a space mission.

Mostly I feel bad for the other people in my life: my husband, my friends. I simply don't have the energy right now to be present, to engage. I just don't feel like I have emotional energy left over at the end of the day. Maybe I need some sort of activity that's actually putting energy into me, instead of always zapping it out....writing can do that, when it's going well.

I really hate being a martyr here. This life--at home, with my two girls--was the life I dreamed of, the life I desperately wanted. I am lucky beyond belief to be able to afford to stay at home, not to mention having a home to stay in. I remember this every day, just about. But there's no escaping the fact that motherhood forces you to give up a large chunk of things you used to do in order to keep yourself happy. Like getting a solid night's sleep. Or attending yoga classes (can't afford that with two kids, single income). Or spending a chunk of every weekend devouring a novel that you've wanted to read forever. Or spontaneously going out to dinner with your husband. Until you have children, most people spend most of their lives taking care of themselves--it's a shock to the system, when suddenly you're struggling to complete the basics, like washing your hair.

I know these things might come back one day, when the kids are older and not physically attached to me for the better part of every day. I get that this is a season. That doesn't really make it easier.

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to leave you a comment for days. You know it will get better, you know you're doing an amazing job. I know you don't need me to tell you those things or try to fix anything. I know you just need to say how hard it is. I'm listening.