I received an email from a friend this morning, reporting on research that stresses the importance of concentrated focus despite the creative rewards of daydreaming: "Lose Focus, Lose Happiness." Perhaps this has been my problem lately. I've mentioned that, while developing my new business, I've been assigned to take inventory of my strengths and weaknesses. Topping the latter is: "desire to do all at once." To compensate for this, I've drafted a plan for what to do when, but it doesn't seem to be working for me. There's just that competitive urge in me to beat the list, and to get more done than it believes possible. To get more done sooner means to get more done at once. So then there's juggling work on my feminist porn book, which I'm translating from Norwegian to English; and my article on sex among youth that I'm revising to submit. And there's blogging both here and there. And there's developing LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY.
All this as a full-time mama of a toddler who is not fond of sleep, leaving me no time at night (since I go to bed with her) and only a measly hour or so in the afternoon when she naps.
- Attempt enforcement of quite time after lunch while she looks at books, draws, or plays quietly as I get some stuff done on my computer.
- Sneak away to my ad hoc desk in our bedroom whenever Leighton's around and I'm not busy cooking or cleaning.
- Get up in the middle of the night after my nocturnal bathroom run to write in a sleeping house.
It's not working out to much satisfaction. And as a result, I find myself prone to thoughts and emotions I'm not proud of. I'm definitely not in my finest days as a mom.
Another friend of mine sent me an email the other day complaining "work is only stressful when there's no time to do it." We both love our work, and we both love our kids, but when there's not enough time for the former it's just really really hard.
Then yet another friend sent me a link today to a story about the prize-awarded memoir, A double life by Lisa Catherine Harper, who "in addition to writing and teaching" is a "full-time mother" of two. She also has a new essay out on "Writing and Parenting: Finding a Balance," which frankly left me peeved. I'm not proud to admit it, but reading her essay and about her book got me both jealous and quizzical. Oh yes? Can this really be so? I mean, does she bring her kids to class when she teaches? I get how she can get writing done, even with a little one around, and even if it means just for a little bit each day. And since it's been Harper's experience as a new mom that one can at first "expect no more than 2-3 hours of uninterrupted writing time (assuming the baby naps)" or the double of that "if the baby naps twice a day," I say she's got it made. Because Lilly would only nap in my lap her first six months of life, drifting in and out of sleep while nursing; try typing like that. Ages six to nine months gave me her glory days of naps, with her sometimes sleeping as long as two hours during the late morning in bed after I'd nursed her down. For a half-hour afternoon nap, I would still have to stroll her. Then came spring and long bright days, when she'd need strolling for a morning nap too.
Her second year of life was a struggle with naps too. Because Leighton and I took turns writing and being with her, and without the boob around to nurse her down she resisted naps. Then lack of routine caused her to resist naps when the boob actually was around.
After I submitted the Norwegian version of my feminist porn book to a publisher last fall, we had a good stretch, Lilly and I, me savoring time with her while getting some writing done when she napped and on Friday mornings when she was with my friend; and the interviews for my sleep question book (now on hold) I could do with her in tow.
But the all consuming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas did me in; for two months, I lost my time to work.
Focusing on finding my time to work in the new year has been a mixed blessings. I'm so much happier when I get that time. But I struggle with wanting more. I'm envious of the apparent sense of peace Harper has found in balancing writing and parenting; I want that too.
In the meantime, I kvetch.