Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hours in a Day

It’s amazing how many hours there are in a day when you really need them. My agent has asked for revisions to my novel, hoping to turn the current trend of editors saying It’s great, it’s lovely, but no, into It’s great, it’s lovely, here’s an offer. And she wants those changes by January 10. When she asked what my schedule was like, I just told her I’d make it work.

The truth? I have no time. Days, evenings, and nights are occupied with caring for one or both children. Even naptime, a measly one hour each day, has been decimated by my cherished new child who often stays awake while my cherished older child is asleep. Evenings, once my own after 7:30 when Lucia was asleep, are now usually Greta’s fussy time. And then I go to bed, where I alternate sleeping and nursing until I get up and do it all over again the next day.

And yet—this project has forced me to find time. I quickly revised my laissez-faire attitude of letting Greta sleep whenever and however long she wanted to during the day; I now make sure she has at least an hour of awake time before Lucia’s nap, and, more often than not, I can get her to sleep at the same time. A blessed hour—or more!—is then mine. Of course, Greta is often sleeping in my lap, but I prefer writing longhand, so I just balance my notebook on top of her. We’ve also found that Greta’s fussy time at night was mostly caused by her simply wanting to be asleep, so right after Lucia’s bedtime I swaddle, nurse, and rock Greta until she sleeps. So the evenings are ours again as well. Precious child that she is, she’s been sleeping for the past week or so from 7:30 or 8 until midnight or 1am, then nursing and then sleeping again until around 5am, then nursing and then sleeping again till Lucia wakes up at 7.

I’ve also been stealing time: high-tailing it out of the house every weekend morning, making it to my favorite café before it gets crowded even though it sometimes means leaving Lucia in her pjs, breakfast uneaten, Andrew without his contacts yet in. But with two babies, if I don’t go when I have the chance, I won’t go at all, so I am up and dressed and out the door by 8. We introduced a bottle to Greta a couple of weeks ago with no problem, so I know I'm not leaving her to starve.

And I’ve been buying time. We’ve had our sitter back a couple of times each week, and I made the somewhat obvious but also thrilling discovery that I can actually use that time as work time despite my unwillingness to leave both babies with the sitter at once. I just put Greta in the Bjorn and walk outside until she falls asleep, and then go to a café and write. Greta is none the wiser, and I sometimes even feel like I’m in grad school again, sipping coffee and writing in a notebook, out in the city in the middle of the day with all the time in the world—and then Greta stirs, or my milk lets down, and I remember I’m a mom of two and I’d better focus while I can.

It’s amazing how much I can get done when I absolutely have to do it, and I’ve been pretty productive in all my eeked-out hours. But much work remains.


molliejon said...

I may be young, but one thing through my numerous attempts at writing a novel, I have found:

A) It doesn't consume your life. It IS your life.

B) It's one of the most mentally stressful things EVER.

and C) It's impossible to ever finish it.

I already have found writing is extremely hard while trying to balance school and after-school activities; however, I couldn't imagine trying to balance it between a work life and kids.

I greatly respect what you do! It's inspiring to try to keep many things in your life going at once, but making sure that the most important come first.

And I also wish you all the best of luck with your novel!

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