I got up this morning as the tips of the sky were turning to tangerine. It’s not easy for me, this early to rise business, but creativity is a heady incentive, and I always value the extra hours of writing time. Except, that is, when they can’t be used for writing.
Dan had an early work meeting this morning, so it was up to me to get the girls to school, preferably on time and intact. That is usually his job, and I had no idea the magnitude of parental responsibility involved. While showering, I fielded questions and issued instructions (mostly “Close the door!”). While drying my hair, I mediated arguments and tried to follow preschool jokes. While whisking on some mascara, I wiped noses and bums alike. Cher probably takes less time getting herself ready for the day. And once I was finally presentable, it was the girls’ turn.
There were two complete outfits to be chosen. Eight separate limbs to be wrangled into the appropriate holes. Socks to be removed, turned right side out, and replaced. Shoes to be found. Matching shoes to be found. Uniforms to be rebuttoned. Bags to be packed. Medicine to be administered, hair to be fixed, and faces to be washed. Two energetic little bodies to be bundled into coats and scarves and backpacks and corralled along the walk to school. We made it with five minutes to spare.
While I should theoretically have felt great that I accomplished the morning’s goals (on time? check! intact? check!), I mostly felt like life was over. I had gotten up so ridiculously, agonizingly early only to spend those hard-earned hours on the mundane. I felt like I had missed my shot at productivity for the day. I was frustrated at the girls for needing so much from me, and I was frustrated at myself for not being more efficient. Back home, not even my morning cappuccino warmed in a pool of sunshine helped. I budgeted, wrote lesson plans, and made some important phone calls, but I didn’t have the heart to write.
By the time I picked up the girls from school, I had given up on writing for the day and NaNoWriMo in general. My situation was clearly hopeless, so I brushed it out of my mind and took the girls to the playground. I pushed them on the swings, soaked up their school day stories, and kissed their windblown cheeks. We walked home kicking up fallen leaves and shared gingerbread bears before story time. It was so refreshing to see them as my sweet, vibrant little girls again rather than as competitors for my time.
I have a chronic disability when it comes to cutting myself slack, and I’m glad I was finally able to look it in the face. I had accomplished a lot of good things with my day despite the residual brain fog from Monday’s late night. No, I hadn’t penned another book chapter, but I that didn’t mark me as a failure—just as another one of the millions of mothers who don’t try to write novels in one month. NaNoWriMo could wait a day. I began to breathe more easily and smile more freely, and when Sophie lay down for her nap, I discovered I had a few words in me after all.