I started trying to be a writer long before I started trying to be a mom. In fact, I am embarrassed to say that the first draft of my book took more than two years to write. And let’s face it, it’s no War and Peace. My goal was to just write a fun vampire novel, but I felt absolutely no sense of urgency about the process. I would write 100 words here, a page or two there; sometimes I would get sidetracked by other things or life in general and forget to write for a month or more.
What made me not only decide to finish writing my book, but actually go through the trouble of publishing it? Believe it or not, it was having a baby. While I was pregnant, I put my book aside entirely. I was constantly worried about the pregnancy and the baby and could not think of anything else, possibly for the entire nine months. When I finally had my son last year, it was after a complicated c-section. Thankfully, he was fine, but I had a plethora of disgusting issues, including a scar that kept re-opening even months after the fact. (Excuse me, that’s just my uterus popping back out!)
As all new moms will tell you, during the first few months with a baby, it is impossible to think of anything else but the baby. It’s all-encompassing–it’s your entire world. When my son was 12 weeks old, I went back to a full-time job. Once there I realized several things:
1. Being able to both go to the bathroom and get a cup of coffee whenever you want is amazing.
2. Someone else can, in fact, succeed at changing my son’s diapers.
3. Despite being a mother, I was still entitled to have interests and aspirations outside caring for my child.
That was when I did some self-reflection and though about what it was I really wanted out of life. If you are as old as me, you may remember those spiral-bound books that started out at Pre-K and ended in 12th Grade that you could fill in with photos and memories from the appropriate school year. One of the questions it posed was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every single year, I wrote in: “Writer and Mother.”
Remembering that, I knew I had to go back to writing. In the beginning it was hard. I would work until 5pm, get home at 6pm, take care of my son until 10pm, maybe get in an hour of writing until I passed out for the night, and then woke up and did it all again. It was only when my son turned six months old and the miracle of 12 hours of straight sleep kicked in that I really got going with writing again.
I guess the point I’m going for in a long and meandering way is that having a child made me realize that every moment is precious. That hour commute on the subway that used to annoy me is now an hour of quiet reading time. The hour and a half I have between the time I get home and my son has to go to bed shouldn’t be stressed with getting dinner on the table, but be treasured as quality time with a little boy who won’t be little forever. The few hours I have to myself each night could be spent vegetating on the sofa, or they could be spent working towards something that has always been one of my life’s goals.
Written out like this, the correct choices seem obvious. And what’s also now terribly obvious to me, as my baby grows into a child before my eyes, is that life is very fleeting, and every moment you are not working toward your goal, you are getting farther away from it. Because, when you come down to it, every project has a deadline.