This is one of the Laws of Parenting.
When it rains, it pours.
I don’t know why, but there’s something in the cosmos that sees you’ve got your hands full with kids, are trying to get ready for a month-long family trip, and at the same time dealing with a surprise diaper full of poop (which also managed to nail Every Single Piece of Clothing in the process) … which is exactly the same time your adventurous older child notices the front door’s unlocked and decides to walk to Grandma’s house.
And only then, when the door is hanging open and refusing to shut because of some stupid, coastal wind (which is usually the alarm telling you Number One just ran for the hills), that you realize she’s gone.
(Thankfully, my frantic, panic-induced, scared-out-of-my-mind screams brought Kate running back… and suitably upset and crying because she knew I was upset.)
See what I mean, though?
It’s that Cosmos Thing.
Or the Laws of Attraction.
Because then the next thing I know, as I’m getting everyone ready for bed, Kate’s climbed onto the counter and is scooping ground coffee beans into her mouth like it’s candy.
Because, well, that’s what kids DO.
Somehow, I survived that day. Somehow, I got both kids in bed, by myself, and even got the kitchen cleaned and dishes done.
I survived that downpour.
Also, my wonderful, very non-judgmental husband (who’d been doing the grocery shopping at the time of the coffee-bean-incident), came home with chocolate. He also didn’t say anything when I had the chocolate before dinner.
And… this Really Bad Day? Yeah, it was already a follow-up to a weekend with no one sleeping, fevers, and a baby who’s got six teeth (6!) coming in.
(My husband has hence nicknamed Eric, ‘Six-Shooter.’)
Meanwhile, there’s my poor, poor writing. My fantasy-western story that’s sort of sitting there in limbo, waiting for me to keep on exploring the fears and feelings of character who has a magical/developmentally delayed child. This story, that I really want to keep writing, is just… waiting.
Waiting for my brain power and higher functioning to return.
Waiting for when I can simply breathe and honestly say, “I’m okay again. I’m ready to work.”
The story, sadly, is still waiting.
And I’m okay with that. I know it won’t be long before I’m back at the computer, and I’m not putting any pressure on it. I have a big trip coming up (including a drive through-the-night-to-Montana with 2 kids and my own sisterly back-up). And honestly, I just want to focus on my family and having fun (and research too… because I totally picked a place where several of my stories… ahem, fantasy-western… are set in).
But you know, I had a solid 4-5 day writing streak before this latest rain came, and I did it even when there were times I just wanted to happily stare into space.
At one point I had a vague, possible goal of writing 1 short story a month. Honestly, this would be a more-than-reasonable goal… if I didn’t have one kid who’s almost 3 years old and a second who’s just now hitting 6 months. In fact, I used to easily write 1 story a week, plus a ton of novel writing so I know what I’m capable of.
I also know what I’m not, and this is just one thing I can’t commit to. Not these days.
Not until I have some control over my schedule, my brain, or just when it rains in my house.
See, to set up this goal of 1 story a month right now, it would backfire. This goal would actually end up hurting my writing because it would feel like just another chore. Just another piece in my already ridiculously-packed, errand-filled day.
And you know, I want the writing to be fun.
To be something I enjoy.
I’m writing because I love it. Not because I have too.
Yeah, that’s a fine line to walk, but there’s something about becoming a parent and still remaining a writer… yes, you do need to be diligent to succeed and to actually, you know, write, (especially since your hours are usually filled children, crying meltdowns, and stomachs that are the sizes of houses and are never filled regardless of how much food actually goes in), but at the same time… the writing will always be there.
The writing isn’t going away. It’s going to wait, nice and patient… but my kids won’t.
They are going to grow up.
Kate will only be a toddler once.
Eric will only be a baby once.
And even when I see there’s a ridiculous amount of rain with a chance of hail on the horizon, it’s still part of the process, still part of the reason I decided to be a parent in the first place.
So, my half-finished short story is waiting.
I have no idea when it’ll get done, just that it will, bit by bit. You know, during those times when it stops raining for a few minutes inside my house.
Here’s the other half of the Law of Parenting:
It may rain, but at some point we get these clear, spectacular skies and sunsets that are beyond beautiful. These are the times when our kids do something amazing. Do some thing that touches us to our core and we say, “This, this right here, is why I became a parent.”
I had a clear, smiling sky this morning (along with 2 much-needed cups of coffee). And even though the afternoon was getting cloudy when Eric’s teeth started bothering him again, I was ready to handle it.
All I needed was that glimpse… of Kate pulling up her stool beside the stove to help me cook (translation: stir the hot dogs). Of Eric flapping his arms and legs in complete and utter excitement when his sister sat down on the blanket next to him and pulled off his socks as a way of saying, “I love you, Little Brother.”
I’m recharged now and ready to give it another go.
So, how about you? What do your clear skies look like?