A writer friend linked to this lovely and inspiring piece, by Michelle Aldredge, about the ways the constraints of life, particularly those of parenthood, are essential to creativity. (Robin, the writer friend who led me to Michelle’s post, writes truly beautiful things herself.) I considered the spaces into which I squeeze my own writing.
My alarm goes off at five. Xander often wants his first feeding at four. Sometimes I drift back to sleep as he does, and we get another hour of sleep. Sometimes my brain kicks the covers off, and I have a half an hour between the time he finishes nursing and the dawn that reminds me I’m supposed to log into my employer’s email.
We live in an apartment on the tenth floor. Our laundry room is on the first floor. I lug a full basket, the detergent, and a laptop to the laundry room. A wash cycle is twenty-eight minutes.
I feed Xander before I drop him off at daycare. He likes to snuggle; he drags his feedings out for twenty, twenty-five, thirty minutes. I type one-handed.
I’m scheduled to be at the school at which I teach by eleven o’clock. If I’m caught up on lesson planning and grading and reading and my inbox is empty, my first class doesn’t start until eleven-forty.
I get to the bus stop at three-thirty. Sometimes the bus doesn’t drop the twins off until three-fifty. My smartphone is another scrap of paper, another notepad on which to jot thoughts and ideas and words.
I plop the baby on the floor and tell the kids they have to keep him happy while I make dinner. For health, dietary, and financial reasons, we make nearly everything from scratch. My laptop sits on the counter among bowls and measuring cups and a dusting of flour. My mixer takes fifteen minutes to knead the dough, rice takes twenty minutes to boil, and potatoes take forty-five minutes to turn into baked fries.
Eric gets home from work around eight, the kids are in bed by nine. I hand the baby to Eric when he walks in the door and give instructions from behind a laptop and earphones full of white noise. “Take a shower. Pick out your clothes for tomorrow. Pack your backpack.” I log back in for my employer. Sometimes I get distracted, and I open google or wordpress and scribble with a few quick clicks of the keyboard. Just five minutes so I don’t lose the idea, then back to work.
Tight spaces, crammed into the slivers of time that appear between the full-time job and the part-time job, between the five little people who need me. Like a thin sprinkling of glitter over my day, tiny and fleeting, only shiny if you catch it at just the right angle under just the right light, but beautiful once you’ve caught it.