Since I’m a stay-at-home-writing-momma, my days are a juggling act. I try to fit in word counts, chapters, character sketches, plot re-vamps, and jot down new story ideas in between kissing boo-boos, cutting lunch into tiny, edible pieces, playing hide-and-seek, and plunging toilets (while wondering what the hell SweetZ dropped in there this time). It’s rarely easy, and I often find myself, as I drift off to sleep at night, fantasizing about what it would be like to be able to write like it was a normal job: send the kids off to school, shuffle into my office with a steaming cuppa, and write uninterrupted until they get home in the afternoon.
If pipes had dreams, this would be it.
As I’m trucking along, putting the finishing touches on The Darkening, juggling my time is getting harder. Little Miss Took is inches away from crawling. SweetZ is blossoming into a social butterfly. Between the two of them I find my writing time getting shorter and shorter, and have to laugh at it. Not because I have the ‘what else could I do?’ mentality, but because this is what life does: it shifts and it changes, like a floating carpet on water; and if you can’t find your sea-legs, you’ll topple overboard. My sea-legs, apparently, are my ability to laugh.
Since the bulk of my writing happens during nap-time, I do everything I can to ensure our naps go off without a hitch. We play, hard. Be it a splashy-bath, wrestling, a brisk walk, dancing to a little old-school J. Timberlake, we make our play-time count. Then we eat some lunch, watch a little Sesame Street, give the Took a nice, warm bottle, and then off we go to the Land of Nod.
That used to be my foolproof plan. These days it goes like this:
Me: Night Zoey.
Z: Night Momma. Momma?
Z: Are you gonna work?
Z: ‘Kay. I’ll sleep good.
Me: Alright, sweetie. (moves to shut door)
Me: ‘Night, Took.
Z: Mom, Alice is being loud.
Me: I know. She’ll go to sleep. Just ignore her.
(I shut the door. Through it I hear Took saying ‘datdatdatdatdat’ and Zoey whining. I head downstairs to my office.)
(Five mintues later)
Z: MOM! MOMMY MOM MOM!
Me: (grinding-teeth-sigh) Coming! (Opens door)
Z: (whispered) Alice pooped.
Me: She did? (sniffs, slumps shoulders) She did.
Z: I told you.
Me: Go to sleep. (Changes diaper. Returns baby to bed)
Took: Mamamamamama datdatdatdatdat
Me: Your welcome. Go to sleep. (Please for the love of my sanity, go to sleep)
Z: Shhh, mom. I’m trying to sleep.
(I shut the door. Through it I hear Took saying ‘datdatdatdatdat mamamama and Zoey saying, ‘Be quiet, I’m asleep!)
(Five minutes later)
Z: MOM! MOMMY MOM MOM MOM MOM!
Me: (growls) Coming! (opens door)
Z: My finger hurts.
Me: Let me see (Inspects finger. There’s no discernable injury. It’s an invisa-injury) You’re fine honey, go to sleep.
Z: I can’t. Alice will bite me.
Me: Alice won’t bite you. She can’t get out of her crib.
Z: If I stick my fingers in her crib she’ll bite me.
Me: Then don’t stick your fingers in her crib. You’re supposed to stay in bed.
Z: But she wants me to look at her.
Me: Shhh, Allie, go to sleep.
Z: See? She says she wants me to look at her.
Me: (restraining the urge to mash my head into the wall) You’re not going to nap today, are you?
Z: (turns eyes upward, thinking) Mmmmm….I think probably not. But you can if you want.
And this is how my days go. Somehow – I’m not entirely sure how – The Darkening is still on schedule. It’s kindof a miracle. And in the meantime, I’m trying to treasure these funny, sweet moments with my girls because I’m all-too aware of how quickly the time goes. Z will start Kindergarten next autumn, and Took won’t be far behind. I’m sure that then, when 1:30 comes around, I’ll pause my day to replay how my writing life was once juggled around these two darlings, and wish that the clock could somehow be turned back.