Mother-writers often lament the absence of the muse amid the chaos a new little one brings into the everyday. “How am I supposed to be inspired when I can barely keep my eyes open in this ten-minute window I have managed to find for myself?” they cry. “Should I really skip this opportunity to shower? And is it okay to let the laundry languish in those ever-growing piles?” Coming back to the page seems impossible is the wake of new motherhood.
It was my own battle cry when my daughter was born.
And again, when we brought our twins home from Ethiopia.
“It’s too much,” I told myself. “I can’t handle being a mother and a writer all in the same day.”
With each of my first three children, it took at least a full year for me to rediscover my writer self. And even then, the rediscovery was approached with nonchalance. I wrote when I had them time, i.e., rarely. And what I wrote was forced and ugly.
This time around, with both a birth and an adoption in the past year, I can’t shut it off. I have creativity bubbling in every pore of my exhausted body, and I just can’t get it out fast enough. I, too, am facing ten-minute windows of time, but rather than lamenting the absence of the muse in those moments, I am telling her to hurry! Get it all out as quickly as possible! Write down the idea! Knit another two rows! Sketch it out before it’s gone! For this ten minutes will pass far too quickly and soon there will be nursing and teaching and laundry and homework and cooking, each demanding its own ten-minute (or four-hour) snippet of the day. I find myself making play dough and knitting toys because at least then I’m creating something without feeling like I’m neglecting my children.
And thus, I have a dozen half-written posts, begun in the flashes of time I can manage. They are ideas that have been scribbled (electronically) but not yet revised and proofread. Creativity caught and shoved hastily in a cardboard box poked full of holes, now awaiting the moment when I can properly feed it and move it to a more humane habitation.
I see a new year’s resolution in the making.