I’ve been asked by a few people to talk about an update on the Year of Writing project I signed up for. I started to write this post about that, but then it perhaps turned into something else.
I am nothing if not ambitious. I’ll give myself that much. And right now even I am exceptionally short on time and sleep.
Trying to have a full professional life (which for me means working beyond the 9-5), a full social life, married life, family life, be an attentive mother, make dinner most nights, and so on… is fucking HARD.
I talked many moons ago about “having it all,” and how I thought YES, it is possible! Because “Having it all” is not a cookie cutter statement, bu now I am not so sure. I want to be all the things.
- I want to work out regularly.
- Have creative writing time to myself.
- Have freelance writing time to myself.
- Have blog writing time to myself.
- Have other creative activity time (photos, painting, reading).
- Be a professional power house at work.
- Have more than 1 child.
- Be an amazing, giving wife.
- Make my own salsa/bread/jam/cheese/etc.
- Plan parties and baptisms.
- Occasionally keep up with a show I love on TV.
- Occasionally see a movie.
- Sleep like a normal person.
- Give myself the freedom to occasionally do nothing.
That list could be a mile long. Truly. I’m trying to be someone right now, I’m trying to create something outside myself and inside myself. I’m trying to build my life, my career, my family. All of the scaffolding is going up at once, then the walls, and roof. There are babies to be made and money to be saved and meetings to prepare for and many, many, many things to write.
And I’m starting to feel a little bit like Pride and Prejudice up in here. How can we be an accomplished artist, piano player, and no 6 languages fluently? When would we ever live our lives?
The thing I can’t really figure out is whether or not this is a woman’s issue manifesting in my own lady-parts life, or if it is just me and my ambitions. Kamel is an amazing partner. And if I wanted to squirrel myself away every single evening, close the door, be alone, and write, he would support me. He would handle the baby and give me the time. We are excellent partners in our life. Sometimes we don’t feel like stepping up and being the adult, but in the end we’re both awake at 345 Wednesday morning, trying to coax a Gabriel back to sleep after a nightmare. We tag team diapers and hosing the kid down, we give each other the space to have our own interests and not let the business of life swallow either one of us whole.
So I am not the victim of an absent partner. I choose to be present in the evenings with my family until the baby goes to bed. Gabe is already in daycare 9 hours a day. He spends more awake time with other people than with me. So, yes, even though there are evenings where I would so much rather be alone to my thoughts, I spend the 2 hours I get after we get home with him. It’s my job. I’m his mom. This is the gig.
But Kamel has way less hats to wear, balls to juggle, shoes to fill. Way less. His job is his interest and passion (one of them), like mine. He has side interests, like I do. But his world is pretty straightforward: Video games, work, Family. We talked about this yesterday while I was thinking this post out loud. He doesn’t feel pulled in nearly as many directions as I do. Why?
Having a child didn’t affect him professionally nearly as much as it did for me, that’s true. He joined a secret dad club at work, a club full of knowing nods when you have to run out early to pick up your sick kid, of understanding email responses when you tell your boss you have to work from home today, the employer who tells you to “head home early, man… you have to get out of here and relieve your wife,” when I’ve been on vomit patrol all day. It’s partially his industry. Video games has the perk of being pretty relaxed. But, even when I was pregnant and super sick, I wasn’t met with much sympathy, and you’d think the one actually carrying the burden of making a human would get a shred of sympathy, a little bend here and there of the rules. I still had to come into work and take a sick day, no work from home flexibility for me, no real flexibility whatsoever.
But ok, we’re kind of past that. New job, no pregnancy, no breast feeding. Is it expectations? On myself from myself? I don’t think my drive is so outlandish. I’m still trying to establish myself, still trying to pull myself out of uncertain employment, still climbing the ladder, still building my empire one stone at a time.
The thing is I just can’t do it all, even when I need to. Some things have to fall away. I have to pick and choose.
Am I writing? Yes. I write a lot. I write here, I write at work. Am I writing creatively at this moment? I’m not. Since starting work I have had a hard time figuring out a balance. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Even with this crazy late sunset, I’ve gotta sleep sometime. Tomorrow is just as jam packed as yesterday.
So, with writing – this year is about the year of ideas. It’s about filling my thought box as full as possible. A year ago I had no ideas at all, and that really scared me. So I’m not expecting completed drafts or even submitting to anywhere, I just want a big list of things to write about, maybe some prompts that are half started. I want to be able to sit down and dive in once I do get some time to myself. It may not be for 5 years, but I’m hoping a few windows open up between no and then.
In the mean time, how do you do it? How does anyone? My life is incredibly full and successful, as lives go, but I’m not going to pretend it’s not a complete ass kicking. Fitting in a work out? Better get up at 5am to do so. Sneaking in dates with your husband at lunch because that relationship is most important. Writing or reading at night, sometimes on rare occasions watching a show or having an adult evening. Falling asleep at 10. When there is a baby literally knocking on the bedroom door calling, “Mama! MAMA!” How can you possibly get anything done?