My first thought is always, I really should pee first.
Each morning I wake up to a too-bright monitor relaying the sounds of my stirring baby upstairs in her crib. I throw on my sweater, knowing I’m really going to regret not peeing first if this doesn’t go as planned, and I head to her room. I hold my breath and tip-toe to her crib, gently searching around her little body for that ever-elusive pacifier. It’s too early for her to wake up (because Mommy says so), so I stick the pacifier back in her mouth and stand there in the dark until her breathing matches her usual sleeping breath. Then, I let go of my breath.
I attempt to ninja glide out of her bedroom, but not until I’m stopped by the insufferable pop of a bone in my left foot—right below my third toe. Every damn time. I freeze, wait for my baby’s tiny acknowledgment cry, and then I think once again about cutting off my left foot.
I didn’t go through your typical nine months of pregnancy (you can read about that here), so before we had our baby, I’d had a lot of time over the years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. <—Not a typo. My problem was (is) that I wanted to be everything, so everything came in second place, and nothing came in first—they were all equal.
I’d been writing and editing for myself and others my whole life, and I had been writing a relationship advice column for years. Why it never dawned on me to make freelance writing and editing a career is something only the procrastinating men that hang out in the clean pile of clothes on my closet floor know for sure.
So, as time, persistence, research, and money luck would have it, the career I decided to pursue fell into place, and the emails started ding-donging at my inbox door.
Then, we had our little girl.
And more emails came.
Of course, I had to take a break in the beginning. A jumbled and tired mind full of coffee and baby cries is not one that should be doing anything that anyone besides the baby depends on. If you’d asked me to tie your shoe during those first few weeks, I would’ve apologized and told you I’m really not one you should trust with your shoelaces.
Three months without showering, or brushing my teeth, and hanging out with my very own Wilson went by, and I realized something: this baby is getting easier. My mind clouds started dissipating; I successfully began making my coffee with creamer instead of formula (90% of the time); and I started replying to work emails with a big, fat “Yes, I can edit your resume and write an article for you!” instead of replying with my typical mental reply of “Who do you think I am? God?”
And so it began—my baby/time paradox.
For years before she was born, I took on just enough work to keep me semi-busy. I never felt like I had the time, and I never felt as motivated. Somehow, starting after our baby hit the ripe old age of three months, I’ve written countless articles and blog posts, edited numerous resumes and stories, edited two novels—all things I’ve always done but am now doing with absolute perseverance. I’ve even managed to write half of my own book, all while taking care of this little human being who requires 85% of my days. (I’d give her more if she wanted it.)
What I’ve found in having no time to myself is how surprisingly efficient and productive I am when I treat every second like it’s my last.
When I have one hour, I robotically run through my list of to-do items and select the most important one, regardless of how much time I know this task will actually need. Thirty seconds later, I’m on it. I don’t think about it, I just do it, because now that my time has been cut into fractions, I don’t lend it to Candy Crush or Words with Friends. I won’t even lend it to my ultra-soft pillow until nighttime.
I want my little girl to grow up knowing that I am her Mommy, and I’ll always be there to fulfill her needs, but that I’m also an individual who needs personal time to do the things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.
My baby’s development and needs are unbelievably important, but I cannot, and will not forget that mine are, too.
Being a mother and having a career is like constantly tending to a two-sided scale that needs balancing. To balance out both sides, sometimes you need to add a cup of vodka coffee to one scale and a dirty diaper to the other.
It takes a little work, but it is possible. And it’s totally worth it.
If you’re looking for writing or editing assistance, you can find out more about the services I provide and contact me at: http://www.writedowntheline.com