It’s 3:20 a.m. and baby girl is awake and yelling for me. After putting her back to bed twice, we’re officially up at 4:37 and I’m standing barefoot on the cold tile floor and making coffee.
At 5:15 both little ones are up and I have turned on Dragon Tales (thank you, Netflix). I’m curled up with them on the couch. I’m on my iPhone scrolling for something to read. I find: this, this, this, and this.
By 6:09, the kids are climbing all over me and the couch is no longer a bed-like haven, but a crowded tangle of blankets, dry cereal, and little hands that can’t keep to themselves. Dragon Tales is no longer working. So I’m off the couch, pouring my second cup of coffee, and starting to get a handle on the day.
At 7:41 I’m dressed, with eyeliner on (I’m doing better than I was yesterday). Breakfast of raisin toast has been served. My eldest’s lunch is packed. I started the daily load of laundry, swept the cat litter off the floor, made my to-do list, put a kid on timeout, and cleaned the pots that I didn’t have the energy to scrub last night after dinner.
Matt takes Myron to school on his way to work. By 8:27 I have cleaned my desk somewhat and dug out the dress-up clothes for the kids, which they’ve spread across the living room. The best thing about Tuesdays and Thursdays (the days my middle kiddo doesn’t go to preschool) is that they sometimes play nice and watch television for an hour or two in the morning, allowing me to get some work done. I am starting that work now.
At 9:25 I sit back to gaze at my word count for the morning: 627 words. This is a good thing. Then, as if the gods of productivity were fucking me, my computer freezes up on the words I haven’t saved. A shock of panic runs through me. I click frantically. Nothing happens. More frantic clicking, accompanied by plenty of hushed swearing. Still nothing. For a second I consider handwriting what I can see on my computer screen, but then I quickly dismiss that because I’m too lazy. Instead, I take the risk and restart. After a few tense minutes of waiting, my computer is back to life and seems to be working fine. I click to open Word–the moment of truth–and get a positive sign. Do I want to recover the document? Yes I do. And then there they are, my words, all 627 present and accounted for. Thank you, gods of productivity. I am sorry about what I said earlier and I promise to save more frequently. Thrilled, I keep writing.
By 9:51 tension is building between the little ones, attention is needed, so writing time is over. But I save and close with 1,011 new words for the day, which is decent. I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
It’s raining a fine mist, so taking a walk, which I try to do every day, will have to wait. But I still need to do something to wear the kids out. Errands. By 10:45, the dress-up clothes are picked up, all the regular clothes the kids have shed throughout the morning are back on their bodies, and we’re heading for the library.
After a mad dash to pile as many books in the stroller as possible and banging on the keys of the children’s computers at the library, we leave and head to Publix. Taking the kids to the store can be a challenge, but it’s one of those chores I usually do with them because I prefer to use my kid-free time to write or read or drink beer with friends. So, I make good lists, strap them both into one of those carts that are designed for women who have so many children they don’t know what to do, shop quickly, and try to resist the urge to scream at them when they can’t keep their hands off each other. (No screaming! Today my self control feels boundless.) At 1:17, we’re done at Publix and heading home for lunch.
Groceries are unloaded, lunch of peanut butter and jelly is served, and at 2:12, the two little ones are down for their nap. After wiggling out from under the smallest, I am confronting the next big task on my list: trying to figure out how to organize my CV. As I start looking at other creative writers’ CVs, it’s pretty clear this is going to turn into an exercise of self-loathing and asking myself, “Melinda, what the hell have you been doing for the past ten years?” I spend the next hour doing this, then Matt comes home to relieve me from little-one duty and I go pick up the eldest from school, a task that today includes going to the PTO meeting.
It’s been drizzling all day. I listen to Weezer’s Maladroit while waiting in the after-school traffic. (I found this CD, which I’d kind of forgotten I had, when I cleaned out the cabinet for random things on my desk on New Year’s Day. I have been listening to it almost every day since!) When I park and enter the school, I find that the PTO meeting has been cancelled (the unexpected gift of time!) and take my kid home. It’s 4:00 and I go back to the CV. I start making headway, power through the self-hatred, and don’t stop before dinner, except to check my e-mail, something I miraculously have managed not to do since pre-dawn. I have work out for submission, which makes me nervous because I should hear any day now, and so I seem to swing between compulsive e-mail checking and total e-mail ignoring. Today it’s just ads.
Matt made dinner: quesadillas, which we all sit down to eat, in the usual circus fashion, at 5:45. After dinner, Matt takes the kids upstairs for their baths, I read a few pieces from the publications I wish I’d been pitching for the past five years and, Google “how to build CV,” but don’t find anything that will make me look more successful than I am. I realize that I can’t really feel bad about having so few publishing credits if I’ve only given a half-assed effort to get my work out there. I make a note in my planner to look for more markets for my writing. Tomorrow. I decide not to drink a beer. Then I fold the laundry I didn’t get to earlier.
7:53 and it’s almost bedtime. Not that I’m counting down the minutes or anything. Little girl and I read Olivia Measures Up four times. I let the little kids climb all over me until they go to bed at 8, and then I hang out with the eldest until he goes to bed at 8:30. Then I finish the dishes, straighten up the kitchen, and do all the other boring little things that get me ready for morning and keep the house from falling into chaos.
By 9:13, I am in bed, my eyeliner has been haphazardly washed from my face, and my teeth are brushed. I do not intend to fall asleep this early; I intend to read fifty pages of the book I started the other day. But I have a habit of falling asleep in my books. I’m not sure why.