I am staring at a blank page.
My daughter is sleeping. So is The Husband. And here I am. Finally able to sit down at the computer to let the thoughts I’ve been hoarding in my head spill on to the page.
This is a frequent occurrence in my home; this little moment of solitude one I steal from myself. After the dishes have been done, the laundry taken out of the dryer, and lunch packed for The Husband’s next work shift, I forgo sleep for a moment of creativity.
I used to have a day job. One that paid, even if the check wasn’t that impressive. I even have a pretty little degree that cost me more than I probably ever made at my job before I was put on bed rest at six months pregnant. I never had a chance to make up the difference because during that time in bed, I realized I wasn’t making enough to justify full-time child care. So I stayed home. My college degree, the honors I worked so hard to graduate with, and the creative outlet of working in a newsroom were suddenly replaced with diapers, bottles, and sleepless nights.
Every now and then, The Husband would casually suggest I try to start writing that book I had always talked about. My usual response was a snicker and a request for a nanny so I could have time. Granted, I only had one child (and still do three years later) but I couldn’t imagine how I could devote so much of myself to an unknown when I had already promised to give every ounce of my being to the child wrapped up against my chest.
So I let the dream slide. I had a house to take care of, bills to pay, a child to mother. There were groceries to shop for, dinner to make, grandparents to drive to the baby to so they could coddle and kiss. Every minute of every day seemed to blend into the next with the ever-present To-Do list that I felt obligated to complete daily. And my writing? There just wasn’t time for it right now. That little dream had already been a part of my life since I was a girl. It could wait, couldn’t it? I could handle the stay-at-home-mom thing, right? I wanted to be here -- every second -- with my daughter, and it was supposed to be enough.
So why wasn’t it?
I eventually realized that I needed an outlet. Something that was solely mine. I needed my words, the ones I had been letting drift away in my dreams. Screw the dishes. My Muse had awoken and it was time to create a time and space for myself while tonight’s dinner was left to harden on the plates.
I often wonder how other women do it without losing their minds. How, with multiple children and day jobs and play dates and Everyone Else’s Schedule to keep in mind, they are able to carve out time for themselves to do The One Thing that makes leaving the dishes till tomorrow morning seem worth it. Usually, I’m connecting with these women and other writers on Twitter in between rushing around the house to finish this…and this…and that…before I can feel like I have put in enough of my time for my family and it’s okay to take a minute for myself. Tweets come back at me about the number of words written today, agents searched for and acquired, dreams being chased and caught. I learn that every single woman I have connected with, has in her own way, had to learn how to carve out time for herself. Children or no, day job or not, it’s no easy feat for many women to feel good about putting their need to create above anyone else. And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one trying to stay sane while doing so.
What about you? What is your One Thing that makes you complete? Which dream are you chasing? And how do you make time to nurture that part of yourself?
For me, I’ve learned it’s about putting myself second. After the sun has set and my daily responsibilities are done, I can feel good about sitting down to have a moment with my words. It doesn’t matter if my words are read. It only matters that I have written them. Because then I can sleep without my Muse whispering furiously in my head about what a jackass I was for having wasted another day and lost another piece of myself.
So I wait until my daughter is asleep. After the kitchen is slightly less of a nightmare. After the vacuuming of the dog hair. Maybe even after the mopping of the very real spilled milk. Once I can feel good about not being too behind before I have even gone to bed, I sit down at my computer.
And I find myself staring at a blank page.
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