Lately, Clara has been really into playing “doggie”. “I’m the baby doggie and you’re the mommy!” she says…at least four dozen times per day.
She says it while I’m doing the dishes, pulling on my pants leg. “Pet your baby doggie, mommy!”
She plays it while I’m making the bed, jumping into the center of the sheet just as I’m smoothing it out. “Tell me I’m a bad baby doggie, mommy!”
And she loves to play it while I’m trying to work, nuzzling her head under my arm, usually just as I’m typing some crucial sentence. “Mommy, your baby doggie is lonely!”
Some days she keeps up such a steady stream of chatter and requests and oh my goodness touching that I literally feel like I have no time to form a complete thought.
Those are the days when I find myself trying to fight for a moment.
Do you know what I’m talking about? That moment, that moment, I just want that moment. A few minutes of nobody grabbing my arm, so I can write. A few seconds of silence, so I can complete a conversation. A moment to write. A moment to think.
Those are the days that a great idea for a blog post or essay comes to me, and I find myself gravitating toward my computer in the middle of making dinner, which of course leads to frustration on about 100 levels: I’m in the middle of something else so I can’t give writing my all; the kids are milling around my bedroom or office door, asking for snacks and homework help and “mommy, pretend I’m your baby doggie and you want to pet me,” and the pot’s boiling over and why can’t I just have this moment already?
Here’s a funny thing, though:
If I just give it time, the moment always does, eventually, come.
It might not happen until 9 PM, when all the kids are tucked into bed and the house is quiet.
It might not happen until 8 AM, when my older kids are gone to school and Clara is eating her breakfast.
It might not happen until 2 PM the next day, when everyone but me is napping (including the dogs).
But when I wait for it – instead of trying to force it where it doesn’t fit – the moment always comes.
Moms who are also writers, or businesspeople, or artists, or just thinkers have a big challenge trying to fit in a creative life or a work life around our children and their unpredictable neediness. Even if we have child care, that doesn’t mean our big ideas will always fit neatly into the prescribed hours we’re free of small people. And let’s face it, often those hours are more than full with the other stuff we have to do.
We get ideas. Thoughts. Things we want to act on. Like, now. Those things don’t always want to wait for the moment when we’re sitting in a quiet house with a computer at arm’s reach.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with retreating to your bedroom or asking your kids to play quietly for a while when inspiration strikes. Not at all. But I also think there is a little thing called “reality” which dictates that a kid who really wants Mom, for whatever reason, probably isn’t going to just go off without pitching a fit. And that if you leave a couple of squabbling kids to their own devices while you escape to your bedroom, you’re just going to have them knocking on your door in two minutes anyway.
Trying to escape reality often just leads to even harsher reality smacking us upside the face. It’s a recipe for more stress, more frustration and many ruined moments.
So over the years, I’ve learned that trying to force the moment just doesn’t work. Not only does it shortchange everyone and everything (including the idea I want to express or mull over) but it just leads to more frustration, which leads to more resistance which often just delays the opportunity that might have presented itself if I’d been more patient.
Case in point: how many times have you tried to put a child off so you could finish an email or blog comment, when if you’d just given them a few moments of your attention, they might have gone happily off to play and given you the moment you so desperately wanted?
I’m trying to remind myself that ideas keep, and even when they slip away for a while, it might only be that it’s working itself out in my subconscious. If not, more ideas will come. They always do.
By fully engaging with my life – whatever moment I’m really in, rather than the one I only wish I was in – I’m in a better position to recognize when it’s time to grab my laptop and retreat to my bedroom.
I won’t say it’s always easy. But when I give up the fight – jotting that idea down, then returning to whatever had my attention before – I notice that I’m more able to recognize the moment when it finally shows up and can slip right into it without feeling conflicted or frustrated.
Note to self: instead of fighting for the moment, try to be ready for it when it comes.