When I was young, and I feel sure many of you can relate to this, time stretched before me in long lazy swathes. Sure, I had chores and homework, but for the most part, my time was mine. I sat, I dreamed. Most of all, I wrote. Everyone has their thing. Writing has always been mine.
Then, Babesie came. Along with her, my mommy brain, and almost overnight I was an entirely new person. A person who checked the clock, worried over nap times, mealtimes, bedtime. It was all running by way too fast, and every time I checked the clock again, it was a new thing to be done or another schedule to keep. My writing stopped, for the most part. Reading was done in the early morning hours while my daughter nestled against my breast. Thinking was done over the heat of the stove or behind the wheel of the car, and instead of the deep musings and funny little stories, it was all about how to get her to sleep better (ha), whether she was gaining enough weight (the ache in my arms said yes), if I had done enough housework that day (no) and what to make for the next meal (pasta again).
Everything changed. With a baby, that is bound to happen. But when I heard it while pregnant, I didn’t fully know that they meant everything. They meant what was inside me too. The little writer self that had once been so integral to me now sat in a dusty corner of my mind, hunched over a blank notebook.
I lost a lot that first year. I’ll be the first to admit it. I gained plenty, which most of you will agree with me, but I lost something too. I lost who I was: carefree, a little reckless, impulsive, creative. You can’t be reckless or impulsive with a baby. Or at least, I didn’t know how to be.
Before I knew it, she was two. Going outside in our backyard by herself. Getting into the car without a fuss, ready for whatever adventure. Playing without me. Suddenly, my swathes of time were returning to me. Suddenly, I had a moment to think my own thoughts again.
I discovered that I had forgotten how to think. Like a date night spent talking about your children, I had forgotten how to be with myself. I spent most of my first morning off reading mommy blogs and looking at pictures of my baby girl who was now so big. I had hopeful plans to write that day but they never happened. There were plenty of other things on my schedule that demanded attention now that Babesie had the attention of someone else. I wrote in dribs and drabs, little increments of time spent every evening. sometimes only ten minutes, hurrying along before my brain called it quits from exhaustion.
It only got worse when we had Bubs. Two children in very different developmental stages meant even more scheduling, more balancing, more time given to them and less left over for my relationships with adults, let alone my relationship with myself.
Above all, there was one relationship that was the most missing. It wasn’t with my writer-self, my blank notebooks, or my laptop.
I remember the night clearly. I was just emerging from the haze of post-partum depression that I had with Bub’s birth (more on that later), and I was sitting, kid-free, in the sanctuary at church. I was so tired, an eternal state for me. But I was sitting and singing along, and my fingers strayed as they usually did, to the little red notebook that sat in the front pocket of my bible.
Lo and behold, I even had a pen in there.
The words flowed out of me that night, marking the third time I had written in that notebook in years. I wrote everything: my fears, my thoughts, pouring my heart out to my Savior, and as I wrote I felt a river unlock inside me. I went home that night, put kids to bed and sat on the couch with my husband. We talked together and in between spurts of conversation, I wrote.
It was like taking a lump of clay or a hard knotty log. My words, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were a sharp knife, cutting away the tiredness, the apathy, freeing the young growing heart underneath. I carved it out, the good, the bad, and I was left with a new lump of writing. Something that was just for me. Something I could use. The next night, after bedtime, all the words were still there, and a new lump of wood sat in my head, ready to be carved into something.
Whenever I feel stuck now, I return to that. Sitting in the sanctuary, surrounded by worship, head bowed, writing. My relationship with God renewed, and my creativity flowing from the Source.
It’s there, inside all of us tired, lost mamas. Make your own time, set your clock aside, and carve it out.