my secret lover
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!”
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?