My eyes burned from exhaustion. The kids were bundled up in blankets watching Netflix already and it was barely 7am.
There are just a few more days of school. Summer is barreling toward us. My daughter is eight years old and this fall she’ll begin third grade, which feels unbelievable. Wasn’t I just fretting on my old blog about her entry into elementary school?
Now it’s my son who is closing in on that milestone. Thanks to a November birthday, he has one more year of preschool, for which I’m grateful. One more year until both my kids are in full-time school. That is the dream. The light at the end of the tunnel, my writing time opening like a dam being lifted.
Hours of quiet pouring in. An empty house. It’s what I claim to want, what I do want, and yet, I know it will come at a cost to my heart. The passage of time always does, especially as it relates to my children.
I don’t want to hurry away the hours of summer, wishing, waiting, biding my time – but the struggle to write is real. I’ve been rising early for almost a month now, #writinglikeamother every day. It’s been life changing. If I can get in an hour or more of solitude and work, I am a better mother for the rest of the day. A happier person. The problem seems to be when I don’t.
Like yesterday. Up at 5:40am I was so tired I considered going back to sleep until I heard my daughter’s thundering footsteps in the hall. I crept out of bed carefully, so as not to wake my nighttime visitor, my son, and handed her my phone before heading downstairs. In my mind I’m pleading, please stay in your room until 7, please don’t wake up your brother.
Of course my wishes were not granted.
I slammed down my coffee and dashed upstairs to my son’s cries and my daughter popped out of her room like a jack-in-the-box.
My mood was grumbly. I felt frayed and irritable. Angry, that my time was interrupted.
This is what I feared when I made the commitment to early risings, but life with kids is never predictable. Things change. It’s the one thing you can count on. The only thing.
What I need to do is adjust, adapt. To accept the inevitability of shortened writing sessions, and to be grateful for the ones that last.
When it happened again today, I cursed (more quietly) before running up the stairs. I made jokes about their early rising instead of threats. I put on the rest of The Sound of Music and let myself fall between my babies as we watched, using the computer to pull up a map of Europe so I could show my curious daughter the proximity of Switzerland to Austria as we watched the von Trapp children sing and hike across the Alps to freedom.
Things will be quiet on the blog over the summer, for obvious reasons. I have big goals that I will try not to stress over, like filming lessons for my upcoming grief course, working on my memoir, and living my life.
The summer will fly by, as always, and I want to make sure I’m fully present for all of it, not simply wishing the time away. That will happen on its own, soon enough.
Hope we all have the summers we want, or at least the grace to surrender peacefully to the ones we end up having.
See you in the fall!
I know just what you mean about that feeling of irritation when writing time is interrupted. I just try to be grateful for what I’ve got, though, and try to make the most of it! I’ve been considering an early get-up myself, I might try it and see how it goes. It really is always changing…as soon as I think I’ve got a routine down, something shifts and so do I. It’s frustrating! We talk a lot about homeschooling our kids, and while there is so much I love about the idea, the thought of having all day to write at my leisure is tempting…anyway, enjoy your summer, I hope you’re able to keep writing through it!
I’m taking your advice, Tara, and trying to practice gratitude. It’s almost silly that I forgot about the biggest lesson of parenthood, the moment a routine takes root, it inevitably changes 🙂 I also love the idea of homeschooling, but I am torn about wanting my own uninterrupted time. My daughter is doing well in school, and the rigidity actually suits her personality, but we’ll see about my son. Good luck with your summer of change, and finding time to write amid the madness of life.
Thank you for writing this. I’m in the same spot with younger kids. I needed to feel your struggle adjusting to the unpredictability of life and writing with kids. Transitions are hard for me; losing time I expected. I’m struggling to be happy enjoying the time with my kids when I lose me time, work time, reflection time. There’s healing in a common experience. Enjoy your summer! best of luck with it all!
Oh, yes, transitions are very hard for me as well. I struggle to accept them. What I am seeking is contentment in the moment, and not always longing or itching for the next thing. Thank you for reading and I hope you find some time to write this summer!
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Thank you! And please send me more information about your grief course. And, oh how I “get” the whole “stressing-over-summer-goals” thing.
Thank you Kathy! I’ll email you more about the course, but it’s basically about writing through grief and loss. It could mean a literal death, but also figurative. Death of a relationship, a dream, a lifestyle. I’ve written all the lessons, but now I have to film them, and create powerpoint presentations. It’s a lot of work but it truly has been a labor of love. I feel strongly that writing (in journals) helped me process and grieve my mother’s death. I hope this course helps others, whether their grief is new or old.
Oh my yesssss. So crabby when the morning doesn’t work out and then I chastise myself for being practically a toddler about it. Meaning, I all but have a tantrum. Okay, sometimes I do have a tantrum. This week I had too much going on and I was going to bed too late. I set my alarm daily but turned it off in the middle of the night somewhat deliriously. EVERY NIGHT this week. I got nothing done and was very crabby by yesterday.
Nina, is it weird to say I’m happy to be in such wonderful (if not occasionally crabby) company?! I have tantrums, too, embarrassingly enough. But for me the lesson always seems to be about surrendering. I will do my best to create those early morning pockets of time and try to act with grace when/if they don’t work out perfectly. Going to bed early is absolutely crucial for me, too, but sometimes life gets in the way. I hope this coming week brings you earlier bedtimes and earlier risings!
Ah, yes. An empty house always comes at a cost. ❤ I am happy to hear you're slowing down (here) to write and live life. Enjoy. I think I'm going to wind up "surrendering peacefully" but perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised. Please know you're not alone in the irritable, angry mum department. You probably already know this but I thought I'd say so anyway. Cheers, lovely lady.
Thank you, Sarah, it is comforting to know I’m not alone, though I suspected as much 🙂 Hope we both have summers that are filled with pleasant surprises and joy. Plus, some writing would be nice!
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Oh I know that feeling. You sit down to write (after getting up early), just get into flow (the worst time to be interrupted) and then ‘Muuuuuummmmmeeeee!’ I often have to take a breath in those moments. We do what we can! I am both looking forward to and dreading the school summer hols. My son is at holiday club for a few days here and there so I can meet commitment but the routine is a lot looser and less predicatable – lovely for spending quality time but not as great for creative writing! I love your last line: “…the grace to surrender peacefully.” Keeping this in mind! x
YES, ugh, right?! I need to take more breaths in those moments 🙂 Thank you for the commiseration and kindness, Rachael!
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I relate to this, Dana. This past week was filled neglecting what nourishes me and I felt the impact of it over the weekend. My daughter’s been out of school since early May and the writing practice seems so challenging, but at the same time, I am torn – she is 10 and I want to enjoy the moments with her too. It’s the tug and pull of motherhood and writing. How do we relish it all? Timely post for me, Dana. Thank you.
This captures the dilemma so well- wanting to be it all and do it all and wanting time to move but not really. I hope your summer has been wonderful so far and thanks for this post, friend!