I’ve learned something crucial about myself over the last few months, and I think it all stems from writing. I have a very hard time letting myself rest and relax, even when my body (not to mention my mind) needs it. Starting in August, both my daughters have been going to preschool three days a week. I was so excited about having the four hours, three mornings a week to write and read. Do you know how many of those hours I’ve spent actually writing or reading? Less than five, I’m sure. Granted, I have to take advantage of that time to do some of the things that are easier to do without kids in tow, but that still leaves some hours left to fill however I choose.
I thought it would be much easier for me to fill those hours working on writing or editing projects. Instead, I’m finding myself “busying” my way through the hours–cleaning those crumbs off the floor, tackling the bathrooms, organizing everyone’s fall clothes, making a grocery list–things that need to be done and are easier to do without the kids around, but things that totally zap any “me” time I thought I’d get. Then BAM, it’s time to pick up the kids and continue with the busying and scurrying–putting away their school stuff, folding laundry, playing with blocks, preparing dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up from dinner, bath, etc etc etc, then finally bed for the kids. That leaves me about an hour and a half to take a shower, eat some ice cream (because, come on), talk to my husband, catch up on a TV show and/or read a bit, then fall into bed.
This process has drained me! I’m feeling pretty ragged and fidgety, and it’s stemming from this apparent inability I have to let myself to relax. So I’m on a mission to force myself to STOP the scurrying, and do what’s necessary to let myself sit down, have some minutes to do whatever the hell I want to do–whether it’s catch up on Project Runway, read a book, take a nap–whatever. I’m trying to see these three kid-free mornings a week as a teeny bit of reward of “working” at home with two very small, stubborn, and sweet bosses. I need to take the rewards when they come.
As I said, part of this craziness in my brain stems from writing. I think part of the fidgety-ness, part of my inability to focus, is that I’m not in the middle of a big writing project, and that makes me feel a bit rudder-less. I’ve finished The Hideaway, and while I have played around with a few different beginnings to stories, nothing is holding my attention, so I haven’t been able to really dive into a new story. The Hideaway came at me almost fully formed–or at least a rough outline did–so I’m waiting for that to hit me out of the blue again. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep my rear in the writing chair so my fingers are moving and my brain is working in that direction. When the “muse” comes (or whatever happens), I want to be in front of my computer so I can catch it. Or at least have a scratch piece of paper lying around so I can jot it down!
This antsy feeling when I’m not in the middle of writing a novel shows me that writing is a part of my life–a part of me–that’s not likely going to go away. On the one hand, I’m thankful that it’s a part of my life–I love creating stories and writing them down (even though Good Lord, it is so hard)– but it also scares me a little because of this present feeling of purposeless-ness. I don’t particularly want to spend the next fifty years of my life either feeling like I need to rush to the computer all the time to write just a little bit more, or feeling like banging my head against the wall because the words JUST WON’T COME! I’d like to be a little more even-keeled! I may look even-keeled, but usually, what’s going on in my mind is anything but that. But I’m trying to rest in the waiting, rest in the chaos, embrace all that is in my life–good and bad writing days, messy floors, crumbs on the table, Frozen music blaring out of my daughter’s room at all hours. After all, just living life–embracing it, savoring it, paying attention to it–probably gives the best fodder for stories.
And now my day begins. My two-year-old daughter just crawled out of her crib and is likely pulling the clothes out of her dresser drawers (I can hear her on the monitor.) My almost five-year-old daughter just ran into the “baby”s room saying, “Hey there!” Their sweet voices mingle together, making me smile. But if I don’t hurry, the baby will find her way into the diaper rash ointment–again–and decide to taste it, even though she found out the first time that that wasn’t a great idea.