Six twenty-three in the morning. I lie in bed, motionless. My husband snores softly from the opposite edge of the king-size bed. Between us, the baby’s breath has settled into that deceptive rhythm that teases me into believing maybe I’ll be able to sneak out and get some work done after all.
I slide my hand out of his grasp and he moans. But it’s a sleepy moan, I tell myself. There's still hope. I move my leg away from him, preparing to slide down the side of the bed and onto the floor. He throws his entire body onto my chest, an adorable and infuriating answer to my Hail Mary attempt to, just for a half-hour, exist as a complete entity unto myself.
My watch is heavy on my wrist; my glasses signal to my eyes, even in the barely-breaking light, that we’re up. But my arms are pinned under and around 35 pounds of warm, sweet frustration.
All I can do is think.
It’s the most inhumane torture I can imagine, thinking all the words in the world with no way to get them out of me. All these fantastic ideas, whooshing in and out of my brain, and nowhere to capture them. That’s the curse of the writer: some of our best words slip right through our grasp, no matter how committed we are to holding on.
I set my alarm to 6:00 this morning, thinking surely I would be able to fit in something before the kids woke up. In the last few months, I’ve gotten really good at modularizing my time, only taking on a task I know I can finish in the time I have at my disposal. Ten minutes? Social media post. Half-hour? Newsletter. Naptime-worktime? Blog post, maybe an article. Full-day?
Bahahahaha! Who am I kidding? I can’t remember the last time I had a full day of writing. Probably before the baby was born, 18 months ago.
But even those predictable, bite-size chunks assume that the time I think I have, is the time I actually have. And when I open up the computer at 6:10 and my child wakes up at 6:20, I haven’t even gotten a chance to log on to all my services before I have to cast aside my list and go tend to someone else’s.
“Could you get up early and work before the baby wakes up?” my husband asked me once. He was trying to be helpful, optimistic. After all, he gets up early and does his own morning things before the kids are up. But that is never the way it has worked for me, and nearly all the days of the last few months have provided stacks of evidence to support that fact.
He got frustrated with me then, saying it seemed like I was giving up and dismissing the idea out of hand. But I wasn’t. I was being realistic. Maybe he can count on that time, but I can’t. And as soon as I start to, I am disappointed and angry and resentful because, more often than not, it gets taken from me.
As I lie here in bed, plans to work thwarted yet again, I respond to that gentle snore with a silent “I told you so.”
I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.