This morning Kate and I battled.
It was literally a tug-of-war over the keyboard. Okay, maybe not literally, but pretty damn close.
It was a battle over my attention.
I sat down to get in my thirty minutes of writing. Thirty minutes. That’s right, you heard correctly. I asked to be left alone for thirty minutes.
To which Kate said, “Oh, Hell No.”
The battle then began. Every five minutes, she was there. Pulling at my hands. Bringing me her empty water cup (never mind there was another cup with plenty of water on the counter). Oh, and my favorite… tossing her special Lady pillow, her blanket, and her Bunny on my chair, behind me, so she could climb and cuddle right there.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to write.
Every time I said, “no,” (or, shit, said anything), she’d go into meltdown mode.
Which made me angry.
I mean, this is my time, my thirty minutes of mommy-self-care. Not to mention I’m dealing with this kid for 24 hours. Caring for her, comforting her even when she wakes me up an hour after I finally fell asleep because she was thirsty, and she now can’t leave me alone for thirty minutes??
I get it, okay?
I get that this moment, she wants Mommy. But you know, Mommy wants Mommy too and this is the only time during the day I’ll get it. (After the kids’ bedtime doesn’t count since I’m falling over from exhaustion and that is just not the time for me to write.)
(And so you know, this bit doesn’t have to be about me, the mommy. If you’re the primary caregiver and you’re the dad trying to find some much-needed, daddy-care-time, feel free to switch the word to ‘daddy.’)
Now, Kate’s still young.
She’s turning three next week (which is crazy and scary and awesome all-in-itself), and I know this is part of the learning process. In fact, it’s going to be a looong learning process because she is so young. But I want to help guide her and teach her this. Because it’s important. For me.
Mommy is still Mommy, but Mommy is also a writer. And when Mommy is writing, Mommy should be left alone… unless hurt or bleeding or something else equally dire. Actually, I picked up that tidbit from a Nora Roberts talk I heard years ago at a Romance Writers of America Conference, and instantly added it to my own ideas of being a parent-writer and how the heck to make it work. (Now, I could be an awesome journalistic and do a bit of Google searching to find out which conference, but seriously, I’m a mom and I’m typing this out as fast as I can cause Eric’s making his grumbling, fussy noises that he needs to be picked up… very, very soon.)
But I liked the goal, liked the idea behind what Nora Roberts was talking about.
When it’s time to write, it’s my time.
It’s My Keyboard.
Not Kate’s. Not Eric’s.
Especially when I’ve already taken the time to get her morning snacks and water and movie ready. And yes there are many out there, parents and professionals alike, who are fearful of screen time. But seriously, movies are great at keeping young kids occupied so I can sneak in these minutes of writing and self-care. So I can take this time for myself.
My thirty minutes.
Thirty minutes that became 316 new words in my story. And you know, that was an incredibly hard fought 316 words. Actually, when I look back at my usual progress (you know, before I had kids) that low number is actually frustrating. I used to manage twice that amount.
But… I got it in.
I got the writing in when I was tired, when my brain was still fuzzy from needing sleep, and when I simply knew, right from the moment Kate got up, the writing today was going to be a battle.
But… I got my words in.
I even had a few moments when my creative voice took flight and I got a deeper glimpse of the story I was trying so hard to tell.
I got a glimpse of fun and why I was trying and working so hard to write again.
But now my daughter needs her attention, needs a long hug while on my lap.
I’ll give it to her… while doing my best to let go of the lingering anger and frustration from that keyboard battle.
I’m not perfect. I’m certainly not a perfect parent, but I’m trying. So I’ll see if I can pull a page from Kate’s book at how easy it is to forgive, to move on, and still love unconditionally and without pause.
Just thinking about her and her smile. About how she sees the world, even when she doesn’t have words and in many ways, honestly doesn’t need them…. and already it’s made me feel better.
Kids are something else.
Even if we battle from time-to-time. And I think that’s okay too.
Now, though, I’m gonna go give some hugs, sit on the floor, and play. Get in a little mother-daughter time before Eric wakes up and just enjoy what this is all really about… seeing her smile, seeing that bright, light shinning through her when I sit down to play.
Because that too, is part of my own self-care.