Sara Lind is a mom raising her daughter, along with her husband, in Chicago. She’s a former lawyer turned stay-at-home mom turned writer turned….she’s not sure what next!
After twenty minutes of stories, songs and cuddling, Adeline, my 20-month-old daughter, is almost ready to take a nap. I’ve already tried to leave twice but her cries of “Mommy! Mommy!” lured me back. This time I think I can make it out the door. I give her one more kiss on the nose and tell her, “Time to take a nap now. Bye bye!”
“Bye bye, mama!”
I slip out the door and close it behind me. Miraculously, she doesn’t cry. I tiptoe out to the living room, sink into the couch and listen on the monitor as she talks to herself. After a few minutes, she starts to quiet down and I feel the tension release. I open my computer. I have two hours, if I’m lucky. It’s time to get to work.
I don’t know what other stay-at-home moms do during naptime. They probably clean the house and do the dishes and prepare awesome crafts to do with their perfect children. Maybe they nap or read a book or watch a TV show. Hell, they probably put green masks on their face and cucumbers on their eyes and give themselves pedicures. (With the cucumbers on their eyes? I don’t know. It’s all so confusing.) That’s not me, though. Since I started blogging and writing seriously over a year ago, I’ve spent almost every naptime (and a few hours each night) working.
I’m writing new posts, catching up on responding to comments, updating Facebook and Twitter, and keeping the blog as a whole running smoothly. I’m also working on my photography and trying to write a novel. I have a lot on my plate. I’m overtired because I never go to bed early enough. And yet, with all that, it’s not enough time. That’s the technical stuff, the writing it down and getting it out. The creative stuff is more pervasive than that.
When Adeline and I go to the park, I push her on the swings and watch her go down the slide. I try to be present with her as much as possible. But I’m often not. I’m thinking about the next post I want to write. Or I’m working through a scene in my novel. Or I’m wondering why my story wasn’t accepted or I didn’t get very many comments. Sometimes, to be honest, I’m just beating myself up. Creativity be damned.
This life I’ve chosen is a constant struggle for me. I struggle to find the time to be creative while still being present with my daughter. I struggle against societal pressure telling me to get a productive/high-paying job. I struggle against my inner demons telling me that I’m not good enough and I should just give up. I struggle against my feelings that the time I spend writing makes me less of a mother.
I struggle because I’m not getting enough sleep and yet I never feel like I’m doing enough. A thousand words are jumbled in my brain, begging to be let out. I know, in the most visceral way it’s possible to know something, that I’ll never get to my beautiful and life-altering work until I get through all this other stuff that’s in there. I just need to write it all down. And that takes time. Time that I simply do not have.
How do I find time for creativity? I fit it in during naps and I sneak moments while she’s playing when I can let my mind wander. It sounds simple, but that’s far from the truth. I don’t have an easy answer for other moms — or anyone else for that matter — trying to fit it in. It will probably be a struggle. I can only say that, for me at least, the struggle has been worth it. Keep fighting.