What’s amazing is I just wrote that last blog post, all raring to go, hopeful of the future, and really, just ready to get my writing going and off the ground for 2017. I can practically hear the cheers and pink pom-poms behind me. All I need to do is start the writing and then…
Then, last night, I got about four hours of solid sleep. My day started at 3:15. In the morning. I will probably stay in my PJs all day, maybe I’ll even brush my teeth, and hoping to God that I will not be a screaming banshee because I really just need some peace to myself for a whole five minutes, please…
Teething. It sucks. And thankfully Eric’s on his last set of molars (though how long it takes until they’re freakin’ finished requires more than a crystal ball, maybe a sprinkling of fairy dust and a good-size glass of wine, not to mention the required chocolate). Thank goodness they’re super cute (I firmly believe, and many other parents of toddlers have confirmed, that this is the survival super-power of two-year-olds).
And this pretty much sums up the life of a parent-writer. Certainly for kids under three.
It’s all about flexibility. And acceptance.
I can try and force myself to do some learning, to take the notes on the Research Lecture I’ve got geared up and ready to go, or I can just say my goal, for today, is to keep breathing and keep myself as centered as possibly because even I don’t like being that crazy banshee with the hair sticking up like Doc Brown.
Plus, I know darn well from past experience if I try to do any kind of writing work or studying and the kids are interrupting me, oh man will I lose my shit. It’s like my ability to be calm and roll with them kid punches is long, long gone. Just a distant memory.
Throw in the whole not-sleeping thing and it’s really a day set for disaster.
I’ve learned it’s better to just accept that today (or even just this moment) is not the time to focus on my writing or learning or whatever, or maybe even just the dishes. It’s better for everyone for me to accept the interruptions and leave it for another day.
And I know too, this crazy-hard time won’t last forever. Yesterday morning I felt fantastic. I felt energized. We even had a board game session with friends planned for Sean’s birthday. Then… we had to deal with five Eric poops… in a single day… and only one which ended up where it belonged (on the potty). One was out at farmers market and me, silly me, choose not to bring an extra pair of pants (I’ve got no idea what I was thinking… perhaps that he’d already emptied his system of all upcoming poop and it was just a short walk from our home… or the lack of sleep thing). Oh. And Eric insisted on being carried so I ended up tossing my shirt and jeans into the ‘Desperately Need to Wash Pile’ (yeah, I also forgot to bring the toddler carrier too).
After that adventure, Sean and I were stressed-out zombies. Whatever energy we had was zapped away, just like that.
One day, I swear, I’ll write a nice, fluffy-bunny post about how great it is to have kids, to connect with them, watch the world just open up before their eyes… but this moment is not that moment.
And that’s okay too.
But really, to the people who I see in the elevator, who coo about how cute and adorable my kids are, who, after I say I haven’t slept in five years, still tell me to enjoy them because the time goes by so fast…
Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I see and enjoy those beautiful little moments? Because I do. And they’re wonderful. It just doesn’t carry over for the whole 24-hour period because this thing called life and toddlerhood enters the mix.
Hmm… perhaps that’s a bit harsh but my filter for these kinds of things is gone (remember that whole fours of sleep and a wake up that began at 3:15, despite my utmost attempt to get Eric back to bed).
But really, we’re doing our best. Our best to be the kind of parents we want to be.
The kind who listens and understands and respects our kids feelings. Who can empathize with their feelings even though they’re still going to get in the car-seat and go to the park with all their friends because really, they’ll love it once they get there but can you please not scream or try and hit my face because the idea of the car-seat is simply not acceptable to your cute little mind? (Gee… think I’m channeling Eric right there?)
We won’t even mention the whole ‘keep our home mostly free of dust and the food that, regardless of our herculean efforts, still ends up with bits and food and Play-Doh stuck in the carpet like a hot pink mess.’ And the real food we take the time to chop and cook and make — which you then just push away the plate because what you really want is fruit and potatoes and the best steak Costco can buy.
It’s tough being a parent.
It’s tough being a parent of a toddler, who’s got a very clear idea in his mind, yet has zero ability to speak that mind to get those exact needs met. And unlike Kate who liked figuring out the puzzle that were her parents, Eric’s more inclined to stomp and cry and hit.
It’s tough being a parent with some crazy dream of, you know, being a professional writer. (And you can just about insert that with anything you like — musician, artist, anything at all that involves reaching some dream you have and your cute little kids don’t seem to give a shit about.)
Yet, we still love them.
We still, even when all we need is just those five minutes of quiet, can’t help but reconnect when they wiggle their naked butts into our lap to cuddle.
It’s truly amazing how forgiving kids can be while us adults can hold onto our frustrations for hours (if not days, in some cases). But our kids, they’re ready to cuddle. They need that. They need that attachment to heal, feel like they’re loved and not alone (even if we are still rip-roaring mad). I like to remind myself of that (actually, I’m constantly reminding myself). Those times when all I want is them to go away and I’m about to just let it all out in a flood of tears, that’s the moment I most need to reconnect. To pull them into my lap and smell their hair. To feel their absolute trust and love for me and somehow, like magic, it eases my own feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and really, just being overwhelmed.
It’s not always easy (actually, I think it rarely is), but I’m glad I can at least be aware of it. I may not always act on it (or heck, sometimes I flat choose not to), and that’s okay too.
Just like it’s okay if I hold off on my writing plans and goals for 2017 until my life levels out a little. Or really, until I start get some decent amount of sleep. Even if the fiction writing hasn’t restarted yet, there are other things can do. Like my online workshops or research from my historical novel in Butte, Montana.
Or, just picking up a good book and reading for pleasure. And then… studying it.
Because my life is pretty intense right now and there’s only so much a human body (and mind) can handle before it shuts down. Lights out. No one’s home.
And the other half of this is admitting I can’t do it right now.
Because I’m not perfect.
Instead, I’m only one person trying her best, every day.
That’s been my focus for these past couple of weeks, and even from the day when I first let loose all these feelings and words onto the page (and pretty darn unfiltered, I’ve got to say), it’s actually gotten a little bit easier. We’ve gotten a little bit more sleep. Our life is leveling out, bit by bit.
But still, I’m not perfect.
There are still only so many things I can do at any given moment. Like canceling my plans of hanging out with other moms and instead choosing to go to bed. Or skipping an indoor playground outing, because the stress would be too much for me (and I’m still waiting for the day’s poop for Eric, and trust me, he’d have no issue going right there, right in his pants).
Instead, I stayed home… and I played with my kids.
I connected with them, playing My Little Pony with Kate, and then throwing Eric onto our bed. We had our speech-play sessions while simply living our life. It wasn’t anything special, not part of any routine, just… our life. And Grandma came over, and after a month of her being gone, I think everyone needed that re-connection. It’s especially important for my introverted kids (and one who’s talking, the other who isn’t), to get that one-on-one time instead of being at a super-stimulating playground on steroids. This physical connection, this straight-up play, is so very important for them, more so than other kids, and I think, because of their language delays. It’s the way they express themselves, their love and their joy, their connection. They don’t have words so they use their play, their hugs, their smiles.
And I’ve got to be aware of that, I’ve got to be in tune with that. Turn that dial on up to a 100 because that’s how we do communicate.
That also means that this part of my subconscious, instead of thinking up some cool story or idea, is focused on my kids. It needs to be. Of course, I can’t say for sure since I don’t have normal developing kids, but it sure feels that way, and since my feelings and my gut haven’t let me down yet, I’m gonna go with it.
But… I also feel better too. After having these moments of connection, of play, I feel less like Doc Brown’s hair and more like myself. And with each moment of feeling like me, the urge to write, to tell stories, is coming back too.
The key, I think, to being a parent and a creative is to not force the creativity. It’ll be there, when I’m ready. Because, right now, there’s a reason I’m not writing (life being a whole bit intense, remember?).
Writing and storytelling, it’s supposed to be fun.
The more I’ve let go of my expectations, of circumstances out of my control (like sleep), the easier it’s been for my life to actual level out. To find peace in where I am in these moments.
I started writing this blog when I really, really wanted to tear my hair out, but now… I can feel it again. The writing stirring. My little storytelling voice peeking it’s head out and taking a tentative look around. Are we ready to start? Is it safe?
I think so.
Or, if not at this exact moment, then soon.
And more than that, I feel myself returning to center, to being the kind of person I want to be. Patient and empathetic. To being my kids’ speech partner again instead of wanting to lock myself in the bathroom. Alone.
That’s what my gut’s telling me. All because I gave myself the permission to be a parent first (and survive!) and let that take as long as it needed. I know it was the right call.
Especially when Eric grabs hold and hugs me in that tight way only a toddler can, which is with his whole being and love… and realizing that I do feel better. Certainly, I’m not gonna be no saint or super-mom today (or tomorrow or like, ever), but maybe I’ll do something drastic… like actually put some normal clothes on. Or read a book just for fun.
Besides, I’ve gotten a good look at Eric’s molars and dear lord, they’re nearly done, so I guess that means there is a light at the end of this tunnel…
Days like this, any itsy bit, is a serious success.
The writing, and all my big dreams for the future, will be waiting for me, patient, like always. And patient in a way that my two-year-old toddler can never, ever be. But that’s okay because that’s part of my role as a parent.
To be patient.
Or, at least, do my very, very best.