So it turns out I am all too human. I mean, this is something that I rarely forget. I’m gentle with myself in relationships, in my needs, in how I care for myself and others, and yet the thing I have a big fat superhuman blind spot to is my productivity. And it all comes from inside myself. I’m not one of those women who needs to please others or meet the demands of a busy husband and children. All my demands are on myself. What I want to accomplish, what I *have to find a way* to accomplish is sometimes very very different from what I actually can accomplish.
This whole summer Atti’s been doing ever more adorable things, wanting to play outside and swing, crawl around in the grass, snuggle and sing, and I’ve been putting him off. Begging for a few more minutes to work, promising I’d get around to it later. Bear’s been playing in a softball league and I only made it to the championship game. I haven’t cooked in weeks, I haven’t exercised in weeks, there is so so much I want to write about that I haven’t had the time to dedicate. And it’s all Mitt Romney’s fault. (kidding Republican friends! Keep reading.)
My dear dear friend Joanna wrote a fabulous, touching, hilarious book and nobody wanted to publish it. Because it was about Mormons and who cares about Mormons? So she self-published because she believed in telling the Mormon story and it was wildly successful and got picked up by a big publisher and now she’s in Target and on the Daily Show. Everybody cares about Mormons right now. Thanks to Mitt everyone is either supportive or curious or skeptical, but everybody cares.
So since I’ve had this novel in my head for the last three years, I knew that this was my chance. If I can’t get it published now, I probably can’t ever get something published. I’ve been working and working and working. Working like I’ve never worked before. Pushing out first 1000 words a day, then as the year started growing short I bumped it up to 2500 words a day. I was hoping to have it done at the end of August so I could go on my family vacation free and clear.
But then we had to move unexpectedly – more on that later – and Atti was out of school, and I had this fantastic opportunity to work with Maker Studios that I couldn’t pass up, and before I knew it I was the primary caregiver for a disabled child, with all the work that entails, writing two blogs, producing a web series, moving, taking fertility drugs, and writing a book.
I crashed. I crashed hard. I mean, is it any wonder?
I tried to give myself a bit of a safety net by calling in friends as guest posts, but that actually ended up being just as much work as writing the dang thing myself. So I just had to do what I could do.
I’m about 80% done with the book. I think I’ll easily finish it before the election, but I do worry that every day longer I take is less time to sell it. The ticking clock over my head is relentless. I thought I’d spend the family vacation doing rewrites, but instead I slept. I slept like Jenny in Forrest Gump. Slept like I hadn’t slept in years. I was at a beach house right on the water and I barely left our bedroom for two days. My own energy level is beating back against that ticking clock like a rock in a stream.
So what can I do? I want to treasure these fleeting moments of parenthood, but I want to treasure the moments he’s five and six and seventeen too. So unless I want to put all my own endeavors on hold until….when exactly?….I have to find a way to cram it in. I want to celebrate summer and my family and spend time nurturing my relationships, but I can’t just be the grasshopper. Sometimes I have to be the ant. And this summer has been full on ant mode. If I can do it I’ll make all my dreams come true. Isn’t that worth an intense amount of work?
My friend Kelly was saying that one of the hardest things about being a modern woman is that you have to fit your life around the lives of everyone else. If you want to have goals of your own, you have to make them fit in the slivers of time in between everyone else’s needs. I think that is so true. The other day I finally had to tell Jared to stop calling for help when he gave Atti a bath. He figured that since we’re both home the job would be easier with more hands. I had to spell it out for him: the only way I get anything done is in 15 minute increments while nobody needs something from me. So while I finish this book I need you to try and need me less.
I am an ambitious woman with big goals. Who adores her family and a simple treasured life. That tension is a good thing I think. It’s how everything gets appreciated, how moments get cherished, how opportunities get grasped. But it also means that sometimes you have to say, “Give mama a minute to finish work.” And then other times you have to say, “Screw it. I’ll miss the deadline. I’m going to go play outside.”