Once upon a time, there was me.
I liked to read novels and stories and poems. I dreamed of writing my own book someday. I dreamed big (Canadian style): of winning a literary award and getting thousands of dollars to sit at a desk and write. Not because I wanted thousands of dollars or the things you can buy with thousands of dollars, but because I wanted to not have to work for $8/hr 40 hours a week to pay the rent and write during the cracks of time that were left over.
I worked a lot of different jobs and paid my rent and wrote during the cracks of time that were left over. Those cracks of time got smaller. The jobs got bigger and took up more space. Writing got pushed out.
In retrospect, I know I was wasting time. I wasted hours, days, weeks. It was ridiculous. It’s like thinking about how much water goes down the drain when you leave the tap on while you brush your teeth. You turn the tap off. Suddenly you get feral around people who leave the tap on. What was I thinking, leaving the tap on for 5 years!
I guess I thought someday my dreams would “come true.” I didn’t, for whatever reason, understand that dreams come true if you work *at them*, not at something else. Dreams come true because the people who dream them are concurrently learning and practicing and failing and getting up and doing it again, whatever the thing is they’re dreaming about. Dreams come true if you don’t waste your time lollygagging.
I had a kid and suddenly my dreamy dreams were a blurry background and in the foreground was a very sharp KID, saying, Oh hi. I am the important thing. Everything was about the KID and working around the KID. And it is easier to work around something that is tangible, I discovered. A physical roadblock is easier to hurdle than a mental one.
Then I had another kid. Because I like challenges. I have done the most writing of my life – except for the very prolific poetry years of 1992-94 – since having Fresco. It helps that I joined the writers group and I have to give them things to read. I write on weekends. I write at the expense of this blog, which is also writing but a different, more comfortable kind. And I write at naptime, because mornings are too early and evenings are the only time I get to talk to Saint Aardvark. (And also we go to bed and get up ridiculously early.)
Naptime is it. At least 45 minutes a day, at most 90 minutes. To write, clean the kitchen, get supper started, eat contraband chocolate, drink tea while it is hot, make phone calls. I do a lot at naptime. I do everything that is not child-related at naptime. I am in a naptime groove. I can actually see the end of a tunnel and how many naptimes it will take me to get there.
A while back, Trombone started giving up his afternoon nap. And that was – not fine exactly, but OK. Because Fresco was a baby. And he napped a lot. Or not; I don’t really remember. And if I got them to nap at the same time, the heavens opened and angels sang and I immediately did fifteen things I had been waiting two weeks to do.
Eventually, over months, Trombone learned how to have Quiet Time in his room. Part maturity, part ability to self-amuse, part bribery (you don’t get any treats after naptime unless you keep your door shut) and we are at a place where he happily goes and does his thing for an hour or so.
At the same time, Fresco, in his own room, has an afternoon nap. A much-needed afternoon nap. Without the afternoon nap, Fresco is a wreck by 4:30 pm.
THESE ARE THE RULES.
Lately he has started eschewing his naps. Every few days. The same way Trombone did except that Fresco doesn’t “do” Quiet Time. Partly because he is young, partly because he is, by birth, EXTREMELY NOISY and partly because he is still in a crib.
If I put toys in the crib, he throws them out. If I take him out of the crib, he will leave his room and then, the game is AFOOT. By which I mean he will get himself arrested for smoking pot in the school parking lot across the street.
If I put him in Trombone’s room, then it will no longer be Quiet Time, but Wrestling Star Wars Action Hero Buzz Lightyear Freakout Time. So what? What do people do?
Do you all just suck it up and work a 14 hour day with no breaks? Because that is not cool.
Are you all also currently wearing earplugs while your toddlers sing “You Got A Friend in Me” at 4 billion decibels? Because I can’t do this every day.
And is it too late to say, “I’m sorry I wasted 5 years of my life dreaming and wishing and hoping when I could have been working, can I please have those 5 years back in hour-long increments, I promise I will use them well?”
And if it’s not too late, who do I send the letter to?
Yeah, I kind of thought so.