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my secret lover

June 30, 2010

My summer childcare–a money-free, summer camp co-op in which I participate with two other families–was out of session last week. Thus, the little people and I have been together every minute for the past six days. And really, it’s been awesome. We’ve been camping, harassing chickens with grubby, grabby hands, intrepidly fording the thin waters of Junction creek, planting strawberries, soaring on trampolines, ignoring naptimes while partying it up with the assorted community of littles at the Triangle Park.

Each morning is the same. Col and Rose spread out blankets for their stuffed animals. Then, like attendants to ancient Egyptian kings, they bring play food, shells, rocks and bandaids to their charges. Rose tries her 3-year old best to choreograph the play. “Now, let’s say we’re on a ship and we going to Alabama and I’m the mommy to rammy, sealy and baby sealy and Coley get out of the water!”

morning play VXIIXV

And really, I could keep going like this if it weren’t for the stories squeezing my cerebellum, for the words scrawling themselves on my brain lining. (And a few deadlines from entities who provide our beer money in exchange for the words I shake out of my addled head).

All other work–cleaning, gardening, baking, cooking, exercising, errands, tending chickens, exploring nature–I can manage with the little people. I have even donated blood with a jacked-up Rosie snarfing down crappy snacks in the waiting room while I was laid out with a needle in my arm. I’d tote them to a pap smear if it meant not giving up my scarce writing time. If I’m hauling children and groceries in the bike trailer up West 3rd towards home, I can check exercise off the list. I can conduct my social life at the park, or under the anemic shade of some scraggly willows while my kids marinate their thighs in frigid river water. Dan and I have even unleashed our passion while the kids were parked in front of some inane video.

But the writing must happen in isolation, preferably while the sun is still shining and before my creativity has been sucked by prepping and cleaning a thousand meals, or saving Col’s small life several times, or disciplining the rogue pirate (Rose) who sneakily lifts shells from Rammy and crew. Coming to the coffee shop with my laptop is like meeting a secret lover, so delicious, fleeting and satisfying. And here I am. I’d better get to work. I have 1 hour and 43 minutes before I have to pick up the kids.

What can you get done with your children and what not? How do you nurture your life in the midsts of mothering?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 11:34 am

    Oh, yes indeed.

    Right now both of my kids are napping and it is my sacred, inviolable writing time. (Wait, so why am I using my writing time to read blogs? Hmm…) I like to tell myself that it is because I love both of these parts of my life so much that I don’t want to share the time that I devote to one with the other. So kid time for kids (and grocery shopping and weeding and cleaning and doctors’ appointments) and nap time for writing. Writing gets short shrift these days and I’m okay with that, especially since most of the material I write about comes from the time I spend with my boys. Wait, so maybe they’re not separate after all.

    Aren’t you digging my straight answers today? :)

  2. Ami permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:57 am

    Hmmm… well, it is a little unfair because I only have ONE child and he’s 5 and a half… so, as days pass, I am able to get more and more done. Probably my number one self-nurturance with Cole, is baths. I confess that I make them extra hot, so he wants to get out quickly, then I linger while he bothers Dad for awhile. I can get a lot done otherwise, but nothing beats a day like yesterday. Full-play! River time, farm-share, and clay class while I went walking at the marsh… so lovely. No “work” and for a splash of time, I grabbed back that eternal summer feeling of freedom. Ahhh… now, just to repeat that ….???

  3. June 30, 2010 1:27 pm

    Well that does sound fun, and exhausting! Writing with kids around gets even worse when they learn to read and hover around your shoulder asking questions about every single word, typing in their own two cents when you step away from the laptop for a milisecond to pee or get a drink of water or mediate a confrontation between combatants in the background. Enjoy your coffee shop time!

  4. abozza permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:41 pm

    My writing is also something that I cannot do with the kids sitting on my lap, asking for snacks, wanting me to play a game. I get lost in my writing and it takes my complete focus. I’m in the midst of writing my second novel and I just finished my job at school for the summer, today. We leave for the beach on Saturday, for a week, but when we return, the kids and I are going to need to set a time to be designated as “Mommy’s Writing Time” and it will be sacred. Whether they occupy themselves with board game or inane video, is up to them. But, I know I’m going to need my space and quiet in order to be productive. Anything else, I can do with the kids, literally, on top of me. Writing, I can’t.

  5. June 30, 2010 2:50 pm

    I’d like to meet this secret lover of yours! During the school year I used the few hours my youngest was at preschool to cram in some writing and a lot of blog reading. With them home all of the time for the summer I’m having a really hard time getting anything written.

  6. June 30, 2010 2:56 pm

    My secret lover(s) are my solitary walks… an hour without a stroller to push, without a child asking me questions… just me. I can’t believe how much it nurtures me.
    But I’d happily take on more secret lovers. I do have a thing for coffee shops ;-)

  7. June 30, 2010 4:00 pm

    Alone time at a coffee shop…how nice.
    For me to really write something (which I love to do and almost never put on my blog), I have to have quiet, no kids, time. And these days I almost never get it (and most of the content on my blog proves it!). Someday.

    Often times I will make brownies when the kids are napping because I love to eat brownie batter~it’s one of my most favorite things~and I still can’t bring myself to teach that to Theo (although I bought him Sweet Tarts today).

    As of late, I find that I like to steal time alone to garden because I think well there….and every so often I’ll share one of my luxurious baths. :)

  8. June 30, 2010 4:08 pm

    You mean you guys can’t write stunningly perfect prose while a toddler is straddling your lap, blocking the computer screen and constantly trying to grab your nose? Yeah, me neither.

  9. June 30, 2010 7:11 pm

    o boy, that title grabbed me, lol
    i can not edit photos with kiddies round, at least not without a few dozen interruptions…

  10. June 30, 2010 7:28 pm

    I always have my kids. That’s why my writing really stinks. I was going to yoga a few days a week. Now, I’m running in the morning. I would like really to hang out with girlfriends sometime….I can’t get much done with kids around. It’s quite challenging for me.

  11. June 30, 2010 10:02 pm

    Little Miss’ daycare closed last week and I had to juggle conference calls and writing for my job at home for part of the day and IT WAS TOUGH.

    It made me really grateful for Sesame Street because it was an hour long and it allowed me the time I needed to meet my deadlines. I didn’t park her there the whole time – just during crunch and I realized that if I aspire to be a stay-at-home mom, I better find a way to get some good, solid me time in (a.k.a. writing) so that I can appreciate the all-baby-all-the-time time.

    And I always chuckle at your mention of beer money. Love it!

  12. Melissa permalink
    July 1, 2010 3:35 pm

    yoga, baby.

    and i finally went yesterday for the first time since giving birth and man, it was awesome. i’d love to write a post about it but all i have to say at the moment is something like omfuckingshanti and that feels inappropriate (:

    you are fast becoming one of my favorite writers–so keep that childcare coming!

  13. Chi-An permalink
    July 1, 2010 4:47 pm

    My not-so-secret love is quilting… I work almost full-time in an office job, so after I get home, get the kids fed and in bed, I race through the wash up from dinner and prep for the next day in the mad hope that I’ll have at least half an hour to work on a quilt or two. The tactile and design parts of quilting really nurture me, much cheaper than therapy.

    Sometimes I can do some quilting bits when the kids are around, but it often devolves into a whole lot of “Don’t touch that!” and “Mommy, when can we work on MY quilt?” Which has its own place, but is Not What I’d Call Relaxing.

  14. July 1, 2010 6:56 pm

    I’m glad you had time for a rendezvous. I have to have isolation to work on the computer or to be on the phone. I wake up really early so I can meditate and practice qigong alone, and sometimes that means a 10 minute qigong routine if I happen to sleep in otherwise he will wrap himself around my legs or anything he can think of to get my full attention.

    I do a lot with my kiddo in tow and he is usually really fun to have along. He has a way with shop keepers and the like…he is always getting free stuff.

  15. July 1, 2010 8:25 pm

    Well, it only took almost seven years to accomplish, but I am now able to wake at least one hour (sometimes an hour and a half!) before the kids and not have them immediately wake up the second I put my feet the floor, which used to result not only in me NOT getting any alone time, but meant that I got to spend the entire day with tired and grumpy kids. Oh, joy!

    Phew… however, I haven’t been using that time to meet my secret lover (writing), but instead have been rendezvousing with two other lovers: meditation and qi-gong (or NIA), which often takes the full 90 minutes, but it’s all good because I really do feel great afterward and much, much happier to see my kiddos than otherwise.

  16. July 1, 2010 11:01 pm

    Cracking up, as usual.

    If we can get kids down by 8:30, snuggles, stories and all, which is most of the time, I put in earplugs on Mondays and Wednesdays and Brandon takes Tuesday/Thursdays and we hole up like we’re on a desert island in our respective creative spaces and get to it. We take the other three days of the week to try to connect and be more loose about the kids schedules. When it is either of our “work nights” there is a serious sense of urgency about getting to that holy set of earplugs while the other mate mans the baby monitor and tries to eek out a bit of cleaning or, oh yes, bathing, etc. The time is S.A.C.R.E.D. and cannot be tampered with!

  17. July 3, 2010 2:03 pm

    Marinating thighs. Love it.

    Ah. This is the main justification to my laptop purchase…being able to write behind a door or outside the front door. I write a lot in fits and spurts but I so love when the stars align and I have my creative mojo AND time to explore it. It seems so often I have the space but a block or I have insanely eloquent stuff to record and two kids begging me for interaction.

    I think, after reading this, I need more structure. If my brain knew I had a daily chunk perhaps my heart would cooperate.

    I’d love to ditch 1am writing in favor of some sleep.

  18. July 5, 2010 11:18 am

    oh, did i laugh reading this!! the things we do to protect our sacred time! i have toted my children to all sorts of things to avoid cutting into it!

  19. July 7, 2010 9:59 am

    Getting up way-too-early for work has it’s benefits: that totally quiet time that I (miraculously) feel awake enough to enjoy before significant amounts of caffeine. (Must be the adrenaline rush of frantically rushing to get ready for work). ;) Some days, if I wake a little bit on the earlier side of normal, I squeak out a delicious 20 minute block in the lightening day to clean, write or read a bit and while that isn’t creation exactly, it sure is a delightful block of alone-time that feels special in that regard. I so much enjoy your writing and am glad to hear how much pleasure you get from it as well. I was thinking how such wonderful (full!) days with lovely little people make the times alone so much more delicious.


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