When I was pregnant with my son, the fearful, unknowing part of my brain screamed that life as I knew it was over. I was facing an end: an end of freedom, an end of self expression, an end of Kate Meadows as I knew her. No more would I be able to crank out pages of work at a time and spend hours on end on a love date with my computer. No longer would I be able to use cuss words in things I wrote, or get a little wild at a social gathering, or even have a cute, modern haircut.
I was grossly wrong, of course. Life doesn’t end when you have kids. (If that were so, how many of us on this planet would have been dead a long time ago?) It simply changes, and, I quickly realized, is was up to me whether that change enhanced my life or veered me off course.
I write this because I am in Kansas City this week, sans son and husband, helping out some dear friends of mine and their own newborn son. I am thrown back to that time in my own life when everything was so uncertain, so scary, so moment-by-moment.
In the two years since my own son was born, I have learned to take advantage of the in-between moments that each day so graciously offers. As a writer and artist, I know it is vital to my own well being to create something new every day, even if all I can manage is a sentence, or explore a simple idea on the back of a Target receipt. Those in-between moments surface like breaths – sometimes soft and barely there; sometimes heavy and announced – and I am learning to pounce on them with my full weight.
A short-lived nap in the car for Will might mean for me the conclusion of the poignant journal entry I had started in the morning but had to leave to attend to my son. A 10-minute stint of playing outside for Will might mean for me a quick plug of my blog on Facebook, or a response to a writing-related email. Then there are those larger in-between moments, like when your husband agrees to take your son for two hours on a Saturday morning, or a coffee date with a friend doesn’t pan out and you find yourself at Starbucks alone, with your computer, suddenly with a free hour on your hands.
Such moments are gifts for those of us who are parents first, artists second. We have to snatch them up before they disappear like shooting stars. Our challenge is to stay upright and steady in that ever-challenging walk of nurturing both our children and that ever-restless creative spirit.
In Kansas City, I am finding my days full of in-between moments. Moments when Mom and baby are resting, or nursing, And I drink in the silence. I write. And I read. (Hello, Joan Didion! Yes, I did go back to the bookstore and shell out the $25 for her new book, Blue Nights.) And I write more.