Sometimes the balance between everyday life and trying to make art, or write, feels unequally stacked. A few months alone with children can feel like you are being told: “It’s a few months before you can have thoughts again. It’s a few months before you are going to make anything worthwhile. Sorry. Just live in the moment for a while, even though that’s not in your nature.”
Living solely in the moment can be difficult when there are things you want to make. There’s a world of words and ideas you want to participate in, but they feel out of reach. Sometimes you chide yourself: “You big baby, it’s not like you work in the diamond mines! Suck it up.”
I’m behind on a novel deadline. I’m behind on a deadline for a writer I mentor, though he’s been incredibly cool and understanding about it. Like everybody else on earth, I’m behind on five million personal goals (books I want to write about, things I want to read, laundry I need to freaking do).
But I kept all children and pets alive and healthy today. I took care of a friend’s child and got her and my own kids to school. They ate reasonably healthy lunches. They did their homework. They played outside and didn’t do a grotesque amount of screen time (only borderline grotesque). They had showers and baths. Susanna shouted, “I found you a SURPRISE!!!” and brought me a penny. I threw the ball for our dog so she wouldn’t go bonkers. And I did sneak in a tiny bit of poetry reading while the kids played, Elyse Fenton‘s ‘Sweet Insurgent’ and Lisa Houlihan Stice‘s ‘Uniform,’ and they were absolutely the perfect, perfect things for me to be reading today. I am grateful for people who have also weathered stretches where it was very hard for them to make art, either because of work or school or wartime or parenthood or illness or who knows what, and I am holding their example close today.