My Baby/Time Paradox

baby-time-paradox

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 (and still am) 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 verbal and written 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.

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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.sarahfloreswriter.com/

 

Finding Fulfillment in Our Childhood Pastimes

by Sarah Flores

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We live in a busy world, and too often we get lost in external obligations: the job, the commute, the chores. They become our priorities. Life might be different if we took a step back into the activities that once made us feel truly satisfied. Sometimes, we can find amazing fulfillment in our childhood pastimes.

Do you remember the excitement you felt over simple things when you were a child? Remember how fearless you were to try something new? As adults, we often fear putting ourselves out there, as if we’ll somehow lose our adult status if we regress to so-called immaturity.  What we really lose is the chance to discover new interests, and the possibility of basking in the kind of serenity that comes from enjoyable pastimes.

The things that made me happy when I was alone as a child still make me happy, and I try to entertain those hobbies as often as I can.  Jigsaw puzzles, for example. I love letting Paul Simon serenade me for hours while I sit, completely lost in a world of hundreds of tiny pieces of colored cardboard. It brings me peace like almost nothing else in this world can. Sometimes, for me, sanity is only a linked puzzle piece away.

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From Nicholas Spark’s Dear John comes this quote:

“It can be coins or sports or politics or horses or music or faith…the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand.” 

Isn’t that true? I’m sure you know someone who wakes up in the morning, spends all day at a job they dislike, comes home and watches television in an attempt to erase the day they didn’t enjoy. If they spent just one hour in the evening doing something that excites them, something that centers them, they might wake up each morning with an entirely new outlook and a sense of anticipation.

It’s a remarkable feeling when you lose yourself in a project that’s in harmony with your personal level of absolute joy. No one to judge. No expectations. Just you in your own world, wearing your cloak of personalized truth.

You might think you don’t have an interest in doing anything different, or that you’re no good at anything, but have you spent time experimenting? What was your favorite thing to do when you were ten, fifteen, even twenty years old? Think back to those moments when you were alone. How were you filling up your free time?

Think hard. You had those moments, I promise.

Were you strumming the guitar or playing “Heart and Soul” on the piano? Were you painting your version of a Picasso? Were you thumbing through encyclopedias, studying the pictures? Were you playing in the garden, digging up worms? Were you listening to music and staring at the ceiling? Were you roller-skating up and down your street trying to impress your crush?

Start there. Start with what you know once fully satisfied you, and make time for it. Deep down, no matter what you’ve been through in your adult life, you’re still that same kid who loves building Lego castles, running in the sprinkler on a summer day, or rehearsing your best stand-up material in front of your loyal audience of teddy bears and G.I. Joe action figures.

What activity allows you to lose yourself in absolute fulfillment?

My True Ghost Story

Happy Halloween.

October 31, 2015scary-face

At fourteen years old, darkness still wasn’t my friend. My 13-inch television was on mute, acting as a nightlight in my bedroom. I closed my eyes and started running through my usual list of prayer requests.

A fever rushed through my body, and fear glued my limbs to the bed when a man’s deep and resounding voice yelled in my ear. “Go! Go!”

Immobility finally loosened its grip. I ran to my Mom’s bedroom, screaming and crying. I couldn’t get the words out, but through gasps of breath I managed, “Man…room…”

Wide-eyed, she ran to my bedroom. After a quick look around and no sign of an intrusion, she realized no one was there.

Mom returned, breathless. “There’s no one in there. What happened?”

I told her I heard a man’s voice just inches away from me. It had drowned out even the constant hum of silence. The only thing I could hear was his demand.

My little brother woke up from the commotion. By the fixed look on his face, I knew he wasn’t surprised to hear what happened. It was as if he’d recently experienced something similar, but he didn’t want to say.

I wouldn’t go back to my bedroom, and it was 1:00 am by the time I could think about sleeping again.

I tried to finish out the night in the living room. My brother, always the protector, told me he’d stay up and watch for anything until I fell asleep.

Rattled and afraid, I curled up on the couch. For an extra sense of protection, I positioned my face into the back crevice where the cushions met.  My brother sat on the floor, back against the couch, there to make sure nothing messed with his big sister.

I woke up when I felt something touch the right side of my face. I thought it was my brother, but when I turned to respond, he wasn’t there.

What I saw will stay with me forever.

When I turned my head, I saw the manifested face of the apparition I heard earlier. He was staring at me, petrifying every cell in my body.

With dark, unmoving eyes, he receded, and dissipated into the center of the room.

Sarah Flores: Keeping it Real (Q&A)

The lovely Sharon Vander Meer of One Roof Publishing asked if I would answer a few of her questions. Clicking below will take you to the Q&A session.

I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Sarah Flores: Keeping it Real

Questions And Answers Three Blocks

If you’d like to leave a comment, you can do that right here, or on her site.

Either way, it’s appreciated. 🙂

My Marriage Lasted Eight Months, and I Have No Regrets

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Some people think divorce is taking the easy way out.

Sometimes, I think it takes courage.

We met when I was nineteen.  I had a decent office job, no plans to go back to college, and a confused future.  He was twenty-four and hadn’t been confused about his future since he was ten.  He knew what he wanted and always had a plan to get there.  His friends were similar in the way of ambition, goal setting, and sticking to those things—none of which I really ever had.  So, being around them was valuable.  He and his best friend even convinced me to go back to college at twenty-three, and thankfully, I did.  We were together for four years. He proposed. I said yes.  We got married.  Six months later I told him I didn’t love him anymore.  He told me that I did love him, and that we were going to make the marriage work.  Two months later, we were divorced.

I never had a lot in common with his friends.  Hell, he and I never had much in common, but we did love each other.  That is true.  And we both saw positive internal growth developing because of each other, but I also believe we were mistaking that for real, solid love. 

Mostly, our relationship was one of learning.  I learned the true fundamentals of how to professionally succeed in life from someone who was born only to succeed.  From me, he learned how to let go and not be afraid to love.  He constantly thanked me for forgiving him because he knew he wasn’t easy to live with. And, being who I was, and am, I found it hard to disregard someone who was willing to better himself.

But, over time, this is also where reality took a front seat.

Through all of that learning and growing, I became confused and completely lost myself.  I really did.  I allowed his ideas of who I could, and should be, mold me into someone I didn’t recognize.  Words and phrases rolled off my tongue that had no business living in my head anyway. I was just mimicking what I’d heard during our years together.  I wasn’t a bad person by any means – just altered.  After all of that growth, I was even less of a match for the man I’d been with for six years.  I was 25 years old, still young, but finally filled with confidence.

As much as he’d always wanted to see that development, independence and strength in me, he was also seeing a loss of control. He’d managed to control most everything in his life, but I was no longer that nineteen-year-old girl who needed his help. Unfortunately, all of this really came to light after we were married. I was ready to bloom, but he only saw weeds.  I felt trapped.  And I knew I couldn’t stay.

Our marriage didn’t need to go on any longer, and I think he knows that, too.  But, I would never take a minute of it back.  I learned many wonderful things from him and had many new and exciting experiences.  I became a greater version of me, and to him, I’ll always be grateful.  But, I also learned a lot about myself after the divorce.  I realized who I truly was, what I wanted, and what I – without the help of anyone on this planet – was capable of.

I learned that sometimes you’re in a relationship simply because it’s what you need at that time in your life.  It isn’t always what you need forever.

So, yeah, I left after eight months.  Some may call me selfish, but walking out that door led me down a path to a place of true happiness.  That was the only place I’d ever wanted to be.  And leaving was the only way I knew to get there.

 

-Sarah

 

A Thank-you Letter to My Sister-in-Law, My Surrogate

After many years of trying to have a baby, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November 2012. My husband and I went through a successful round of In Vitro Fertilization to freeze our embryos before I underwent chemo and radiation to knock out the cancer. After my last treatment in June of 2013, we were unfortunately left knowing that I would never be able to carry a child. My brother’s beautiful wife, Jordan – my sister-in-law and Angel on Earth – came to us and offered to carry our baby. Through many happy tears, we accepted.

While I typically remain fairly private in my own life, the recognition Jordan needs for her generosity and selflessness simply cannot go unnoticed.  Here is my thank-you letter to her.

 

February 10, 2015

Dear Jordan,

Thank you. Thank you for turning years of hardships into fleeting memories. Your kindness has cast a shadow over unfortunate times I swore would stay with me forever. Thank you for turning adversities into affirmations of generosity in the human spirit.

Everything comes full circle, and I can only imagine how beautiful that 360th degree is going to be for you. Not only are you giving life, but you’ve given me back my positive outlook on life. Because of you, I feel full again. I feel full of happiness, and once again full of the belief that a life with children is possible. The level of gratitude I have for you is immeasurable.

Your consistency of optimism through the six months of legal struggles to make this pregnancy happen was awe-inspiring and kept me on the right track. You never drifted. You never changed your mind. You pushed through with your fists in the air, a smile on your face, and ringside pep talks that made me stand back up and fight – even when I felt the weakest. You always believed in us as a team, and you always believed in this baby.

I can and will try to express my gratitude in words and gifts, but it won’t be enough.  I could send it to you in the form of a million sunflowers, but they wouldn’t be bright enough. I could roll out a red carpet every time you take a step forward, but it wouldn’t be long enough.  I could climb the tallest mountain and shout my gratitude from there, but it wouldn’t be loud enough. So, how do I properly thank you? I don’t think I can. I’m going to leave this in the hands of God because I know He has a gift for you that is bigger than anything I could ever tie a bow around.

In just a couple months, surrounded by so much love, this little girl is finally going to make her appearance. I can’t help but imagine what she’ll look like. I hope she has my curly hair and dimples and Ryan’s perfect skin and nose.  And if we’re lucky, Jordan, one of your traits will slip through the ropes of our DNA, and she’ll grow up with your giving heart.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I love you.

Sarah