My husband took our boys out of town for three days. The main reason, as it happens, was to give me a bunch of time to write–because I am knee-deep in revisions for my sequel.
So while they were gone–leaving me alone in my own house for the first time in years–here’s what I did: I wrote, of course. Tons. I made lists of things to do, and by God, I did them. I was on time for work. I ate well, and at a nice, relaxed speed. I did yoga. Twice. The dishes got washed. My bed got made. I had a shower. EVERY FREAKING DAY.
So what did I learn from that? Am I bitter that I can’t live like this all the time?
Well, after the troops returned, and chaos resumed, it was tempting to wallow a little and feel sorry for myself that those three days represented what life COULD be like…but just isn’t. Instead, I found myself with a different take-away message.
It’s that I need to give myself a whole lot more grace than I do. Of course I could be more productive if I were a single, child-free gal. Of course I could get everything done. Of course I could take better care of myself. Because if I lived alone there would be no opposition! As a fiction writer, this all feels strangely familiar…in a story, you want to give a character a goal, and then throw obstacles and opposition at them, and make them struggle to achieve said goal. This is what it’s like to be a mother every minute, of every day. You make a list of things to do…and then the people you love most in your world specifically, and systematically, work to stop you from accomplishing those things. It’s almost funny. Almost. If it weren’t so goddamn frustrating.
I mean, I think I do reasonably well. I had a banner year last year, for example. But I’ve got pretty big plans. And it’s frustrating to me that I can’t just get on with everything I want to do. It’s also frustrating to me that my house is a Lego-encrusted disaster, and that my pants don’t fit quite the way I would like them to.
I guess I had started to suspect that I was using my children as a crutch. You used to be so on top of everything, my nasty little inner voice would tell me. Was it a cop-out to blame motherhood? Maybe I’d just become a sloppier, lazier, more disorganized version of myself. Having kids–was I using it as a get out of jail free card, in terms of exercise, housework, and sundry other accomplishments?
Nope, nope, and nope. I had received a glimpse of the way I would live my life, if I didn’t have those (admittedly gorgeous and adorable) little obstacles tying my hands (often literally) behind my back. And you know what? I’ll get that life back again. Those days will be here, probably sooner than I realize, as my boys grow up.
In the meantime, I’m cutting myself some slack.
Because the other thing I realize now: when I don’t have those hands tied behind my back…I’m going to be positively unstoppable.
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