It has been two months since we rattled back into the Midwest with two vehicles packed to the gills, exactly no place to live and a standing reservation at the Best Western on the southern edge of the Kansas City suburbs. In some respects, it seems like we’ve been back in the Midwest for forever – as if we never left in the first place. In other respects, it seems like we just arrived yesterday.
Life hasn’t quite slowed down for us yet. And of course with two little boys, a husband whose work schedule is forever fluid and changing and my own gnawing need to put words together and write, I wonder if that time of slow-down will ever come. I consider the word “routine” with longing, craving it like a piece of sweet decadent chocolate. Still, we aren’t quite settled here. Still, the kids wake up in the middle of the night. I drag myself out of my warm bed and go to them, then laugh to myself as I return to my own bed, flicking off the alarm that was (so many hours ago) strategically set for 6 a.m.
I always feel so blessed when on my blog (or elsewhere) I run into a mother or mother-to-be who “gets it.” You know, that crazy anxiety of trying to do it all and be a champ at it all. I think at its richest, this flux time is fodder for material. I am living the book that’s yet to be written. It can’t be written right now because the story is still unfolding. We can’t very well write the book while it’s happening – because then we’re too focused on the writing to actually be living out those messy and wonderful moments.
When Eli was still brand new, squinting his fresh eyes at the buzzing world around him, I found that my best writing came on my bed at 2 in the afternoon. There, in a weak attempt at rest while the baby slept, I lay with a legal pad and a pen, my mind too noisy to invite any form of sleep. I scribbled furiously, messily, caring little about handwriting or the neatness of ideas. My desperate goal: to get the words that flew around in my head out, somehow solidified and preserved. The writing may have lasted for just 20 minutes or a sentence. How many one-line prayers did I scribble in the margins? But words came, and they came from the deepest of places. Even after one or two hard sentences, I could look at that long piece of paper and feel good. Somehow cleansed. My world, after those brief moments, made a little more sense.
The writing is becoming more regular these days, but still the routine emerges slowly, like cold molasses. Still I am mother first. Then wife. Then writer. But (and I know this will be true as long as I live) the need to write won’t let go. Even when I am covered in toddler pee and am holding a fussy baby in one arm while I clean up the mess. Even when I am pushing mashed sweet potatoes into a tiny bird-like mouth. Even when the piles of dirty laundry are stacked so high and there is dinner to get on the table and from upstairs a little voice hollers “Mom!” and my husband walks through the front door and wants a little love. Even then, that urge, that innate need to write, will stubbornly persist. And my self will not re-encounter its equilibrium until that need has been acknowledged, satisfied.
How do you do it? Whether you’re a mother, a student, male or female, you, too, wear a lot of hats. How do you make time for your art? How do you prioritize the need and make it somehow align with your myriad other roles?
Around here, we live one day (and yes, sometimes one moment) at a time. And, slowly, the story is being written, the masterpiece in its own time taking shape.
PS: The next post, on Thursday 3/14, will pay some small reverence to the December shootings in Newtown, CT, exactly three months after the young gunman opened fire at an elementary school. It’s one writer’s way of processing tragedy the best way she knows how, via silent words. Come with a somber heart, or not at all.
PPS – A much-delayed announcement: Thanks to your support, my readers, via new Facebook page “Likes” and new followers on my blog, $30 was donated to cleanup efforts following Super Storm Sandy. Thank you, for supporting my work and the power of communicating our life stories. You rock.