My baby turns three tomorrow.
So, technically, and according to him when he flexes his super-hero muscles, he’s not a baby.
As very little is more magical than a birth and the thriving, I thought today’s blog post would be apt to talk of that with the combination of writerly things.
Back track almost three years ago: I poured my first cup of fully caffeinated coffee I’d had in a year at our local writers’ guild meeting when a writing-buddy turned to me. “I have a friend who just had a baby and she’s really struggling finding time to write. How do you do it?”
My baby was six weeks old, my daughter almost three. The schedule my eldest and I had come up with—balancing playdates and naptimes and my writing—had twisted into something unrecognizable with the arrival of my son. Before, I wrote during her naptime. Constantly exhausted keeping up with her, I’d snuggle in and take a twenty minute power nap, then wake up with scenes vibrant, writing furiously for the next hour and forty minutes. We were clockwork, she and I. I was the big hand, she the little and our days spun around the clock face.
The baby was a different time zone. Naptimes where no longer times to write but times to nurse and change diapers and soothe so he would be happy while she slept. Days when their naps coincided were glorious but rare. When I changed course and woke early to write, one or the other did too. I didn’t make a sound but they could feel the moment I turned on the computer through cracked bedroom doors and down a hallway. I grew frustrated and raged that the universe was against me.
I wrote after the three am breastfeeding for a week or two. The crash was spectacular and messy.
And I felt so guilty that I blamed them for needing me. Writing is a priority but these two amazing children are so much more. I needed to change my mindset on what I expected out of myself. This baby might be my last so I needed to appreciate the fleeting infant time more. The incredible bond while nursing, the coos and gummy smiles. The tiny fist gripping my pinkie.
He still prefers to hold only my pinkie. It’s like our secret handshake. A way he reminds me that he’ll always be my baby no matter that he’s growing up.
I reminded myself of a pass I had put in place. I had given myself a goal, a manageable 500 words a day, to finish writing a middle grade fairytale retelling before he arrived. I’m goal-driven and finished it a month before his arrival. Revising doesn’t take the same mental capacity that creating does to me so instead, I used my writing time to draft. And journal. I wanted to remember every tiny detail of their babyhood and toddlerhood, so why not exercise my writing muscles by recording? And it was easy to put down when they need me.
My new leniency with myself allowed me to adapt my writing to teething times and night terror times and every time a child needs comfort and attention from their mother.
We figured out our own time zones. Though with my daughter beginning kindergarten in two weeks, I have a feeling we’ll need to figure this out all over again. But that’s a different post.
How has your writing time adapted to new children or new schedules? I’d love to hear what works for you