When life gets in the way, I stop writing. The world around me has no qualm continuing in chaotic fervor: cars zip down the darkened roads, patrons flood the local Starbucks looking for their never ending fix, neighbors continue to walk their dogs in our community soaking in the uncharacteristically warm rays of a February sun. Bumbling through it all, my hectic days turn into anxiety-filled sleepless nights, and evolve into several weeks of doing everything yet doing nothing.
Catching a glimpse into the world of being a single parent, my husband spent many nights and days away from Evelyn and me during the past couple months. Though no fault of his own (people do need to job hunt after all), my time alone with the toddler demonstrated just how energy-killing and patience-trying little humans can be. Even when Jason is home, all time is spent doting on the child. She needs to eat, but not until we run through ten different possible snack choices in a desperate attempt to guess what her pointing and grunts are trying to communicate. She needs to be clean, so we spend time brushing her teeth, washing her face, her hands, her arms, her ears, her nose, her forehead, and pretty much any part of her that has a surface on which gunk can settle. She needs to do her physical therapy exercises and work on her delayed gross motor skills, so we rush through dinners in an effort to squeeze in an hour for her to work on standing, walking, and building her leg strength before her demonic exhaustion kicks in at 6:30pm; her overwhelmed senses transform our sweet goofy child into a crying diva-like gremlin (albeit an adorable one). She fights sleep like the plague even when she needs nothing more than to go to bed. We spend the last of our energy getting her there. In the end, sleep wins for us all, even if adult bedtime has now become 9pm.
Constantly searching for allusive time in which I can accomplish something of my own is tiresome. When a quiet 15-minute span catches me off guard, I sink into the couch, lean my head back, and allow myself to do nothing. Sometimes I watch junky TV. Sometimes I peruse Facebook. Sometimes I just sit in the tranquility, drowning in the guilt of knowing I should be doing something.
When a larger amount of time presents itself, like a skittish deer at the side of the road, I try not to spook it. If I think too loudly (or heaven forbid utter the words aloud) about the nap I could take, this precious opportunity is sure to be taken away. Those are the times Evelyn has a fever, and needs to be picked up from school immediately. Those are the times I get emails that need to be answered, or find a pile of Evelyn’s clothes stained in finger paint begging in desperation to be washed. One small chore turns into many, until several loads of laundry are done, dishes are washed, the coffee pot is set for the next day, and the free time expires. With an hour (or longer!) it’s best to quietly come home, take the dog outside, turn on an alarm just in case, and slide under my favorite blanket tucked snuggly into the oversized couch pillows.
As a life nearly unrecognizable has taken over my time, writing has dropped in priority to nearly zero. As Evelyn’s needs are so great, my own take a back seat. I lose myself in the mom identity. Forcing my exhausted fingers to type feels more grueling than enjoyable. Fumbling through mostly non-existant writing ideas feels so foreign; previously topics rushed my mind at all times of the day.
Regaining this pursuit is hard. Finding myself is daunting. Donating 15 minutes a day to my well-being seems worth it, yet feels selfish. While writing is not the only activity I enjoy (and dearly miss these days) it is starting point. It is cheap, can be done with only a few spare minutes, and feeds my soul in ways I often forget but never stop craving.
Now if I could only make the exhaustion disappear.