Outside the mourning doves are cooing. Inside the house, my daughter is declaring the toast to be too toasty (and her highness is requesting less-toasty toast please!). There is a low whine in the background — the sound of a broken toilet that won’t stop running and that my mediocre plumbing skills are not capable of fixing.
I am wearing a happy birthday hat that my daughter put on my head. I am eating the discarded toasty-toast. It is all glorious because I am also sitting here writing! With my coffee, natch.
This morning was a jolly romp of chasing each other to the bathroom (she won the pee-pee race in case you were wondering), snuggling under a blanket to watch Dinosaur Train, and playing chemist on the kitchen floor. My name for the game, not hers. She takes little cups of water and dumps, sorts, stirs, arranges and, when it spills (it always does) she then cleans it up. She is a weird and wonderful one, my child.
The morning ended with me frantically putting hair into lopsided pigtails because that was the best we were gonna get before she finished sorting her shoes on her play slide. I realize that statement makes no sense to anyone unless they have a three-year-old. But trust me. She wasn’t going to last beyond the shoe-sorting game.
Yesterday I was looking through some photos of my daughter from when she was around one year old. I was searching for a picture of a friend and ended up getting distracted by this tiny version of my daughter. Her arms were SO CHUBBY it is almost too much to handle. She was sporting a band-aid even then. (Always with the boo-boos from some kind of raucous adventure.) She had an intense look on her face, highly suspect of you taking her photo.
Oh but to breathe in the smell of that baby 15-month-old’s hair.
I cannot help but sound like an elderly aunt: I cannot believe how fast you have grown.
All I can do is stay present to what she is right now. To her lip with dried yogurt, her feet in my way-too-large shoes, and her little whispers to me about Bob, the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.
Do you have a kids who are growing way too fast? Isn’t it just astounding?
Full throttle. That is how the day starts with my daughter. This was the first five minutes of our day:
Arrive at her room where she is tucked behind the shade, looking out her window.
“Daddy there is a bug! Daddy take the bug away!” (Daddy is the bug-taker-away-person.) Daddy takes the tiny ant away.
“Mommy why is this colored like this? I don’t like this color. (It is marble. Marble is sort of fancy! I tell her.) “I don’t like fancy. What about this color. Why can’t it be blue? Blue is fancy! Mommy let’s paint it blue!” I mumble something about maybe! (No not really.)
“This is where I peed on the bed the other day!” (Pointing.) (Oh dear.) (Good thing I washed the sheets yesterday.)
Time to make coffee.
“Oh let me push the button! Why are you out of coffee? We need to buy coffee!” (YES YES WE DO.)
I leave the room for a moment.
CLASH!! BANG!! BANNNNG! BANG! (Marching through the kitchen naked whilst banging two pan lids together.)
“Olivia!!! Too early Olivia!” (Not my daughter’s name – a reference to the character Olivia who is a precocious pig whom my daughter channels WAY TOO FREQUENTLY.)
Oh and did I mention it is an in-service day so daycare is closed today. Darn you daycare and your “training of staff to make sure they are competent with my child”!
Good morning everyone. I am here with my coffee and cheese. Oh, you don’t drink coffee with cheese? You must not live with a three-year-old. I inherit all the snacks that are deemed unsuitable (“I DO NOT LIKE THIS KIND OF CHEESE” says the girl who 99.999% of the time likes this kind of cheese. Cheddar, if you were wondering). Yes, I could take the half-eaten cheese and throw it away or put it in the fridge…but mmmm…cheese!
I am going to try to write regularly again. Always with coffee. Sometimes with cheese. You see, I was in this great groove for a while with my blog, pouncing out of bed early and writing nearly daily, and then something odd happened. I discovered that I was drawn to do art work, a long ago buried gift. Now, don’t get me wrong, this was exciting. But suddenly I was faced with the question, do I write or do art? And what about exercise??? (Remember, I live with a three-year-old, so my spare time is limited. And sometimes I freeze when faced with all the possibilities of how to use my spare time. Endless scrolling on Facebook anyone?)
Well, I chose art for a while. I’m sharing some sketches with you all in the interest of practicing vulnerability! Guess what: I like to sketch BIRDS. I know, you are stunned.
Anyway, doing art was well and good for a while. But sometimes getting all the art stuff out and going at 6:30 am—especially around the preschooler who also loves art and wants to join in, and also drinking the coffee, which is a spill-able thing—well it wasn’t working out so well.
Plus I realized that while art is very good for my soul, and connects me to source in a different way, I really, really need my writing. I mean, I don’t even know what I am thinking until I write. And I connect to source in another but different way. Both are good. In an ideal world I would do this stuff all day—write a little, art a little, write a little, art a little more—but until my wealthy patron shows up, I will need to create my art in stolen time.
So duh duh duh duuuuuuh (that was a trumpet if you were wondering), henceforth I shall commence a daily morning writing, with coffee and assorted rejected dairy-products. And at night, watching VEEP (oh my goddess is Julia Louis Dreyfus funny), doing sketches and watercolors and eating popcorn. But not at the same time because hello, grease stains. And exercise will happen…in my sleep, I guess? (Hey, there is such a thing as dream yoga. Maybe I’ll practice that.)
If you too share my passion for coffee and cheese, I invite you to join me on Twitter or Facebook.
This was a morning I did not want to get out of bed. Not even to write. Not even to stick my nose in the can of Cafe Bustelo! (That is highly, highly unusual.)
I eventually got out of bed. I had to—the little girl needed to get dressed and fed and cajoled into getting her mop of curls combed.
I have reason for not wanting to face the day. My sister has a hard day ahead with a medical procedure. A lot of unknowns. Unknowns are the worst, the worst! I’m anxious and worried and fretting and pretty pissed off that there is nothing I can do to make it all go away. As much as I wanted to remained curled in a ball, hiding under the blankets, I faced the day. I got up, dressed and readied the child for daycare, made the coffee, and sat down to say a prayer for my sister.
I felt a little better.
Then I sat down and did a bit of work. (I work from home. The commute is from the coffee pot to the office desk.) Well, I realized I could not continue on with this hard day without writing for at least a bit. So, off the clock I am, writing. My heart is in ‘Cago (what my kiddo calls “chicago. She’s cute, huh?)
So here I am. As soon as I sat in front of my computer a bird began a beautiful song. It lured me onto the back lanai, and I hoped I could get a look at creature. Well, it stopped. Bashful, I guess.
I don’t know what bird sings this song. My bird identification app was no help. (Yes I have a bird identification app. No I am not secretly an aged retiree living in Florida.)
None of my usual feathered friends have a song quite like this one. It was really quite lovely. It lifted my heart and for that I am glad. It made me step outside and breathe in the fresh, damp Florida air. My sliding door to the outside is now ajar, and the noises of animals and creatures puttering about is filling my space.
I will face the day, outside of the bed. Heart in ‘Cago. Keeping an eye and ear out for that bird.
UPDATE: everything went really well for my sister. Phew. Very much relieved.
My grandfather Karl woke up every day at 5:30 am. Voluntarily.
I am not normally a Karl. Not by a long shot. I’m more of a watch-Gilmore Girls-Reruns-until-1am kind of gal.
That is, until recently.
My toddler wakes up early. Like 6am early.
I used to dread these mornings. I would barter with my husband in an attempt to weasel out of 6am childcare duty. And when I did get stuck with the morning shift, I would drag my blurry-eyed self to the couch, plop the child in front of the tv (no shame amiright?), let Peg + Cat do its thing while I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, sipped coffee and pined for more sleep.
I’ve had a recent change of heart about these mornings. Now I eagerly get up with the kiddo and I’m not ashamed to admit there is even a little spring in my step.
I’ve embraced these early mornings as my stolen time to write.
I was inspired after hearing Tara Mohr encourage women (and men) with care-taking responsibilities to embrace stolen time as a way to create art. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. You say, but Sarah, I don’t have the time, or energy, or caffeinated beverages necessary for this task. This is the thing: it doesn’t matter.
By showing up anyway, you join a long tradition of creative fore-mothers who had no choice but to create in their own stolen time.
Adopting this new perspective was the swift kick on the butt that I needed. No more whining, no more wringing of hands. Time to sit down and write. In my stolen time, with stolen materials. (Well the stolen time thing is accurate. I promise I’m not writing on a boosted laptop.)
Which brings me back to my decision to embrace my inner early-bird. (With coffee though—let’s not get too crazy OK?)
I have created a new routine, my friends. As I type this, it is barely light out. I make my coffee and settle into my desk with my official Skunk Ape Headquarters coffee mug on my left and children’s programming proceeding on my right.
And here’s the thing. The more I write, the more I’m hooked. I now look forward to my morning writing sessions. And I swear my muse knows the new drill and shows up pretty regularly. It’s pretty cool.
Now, I rise at 6am,voluntarily.
Just call me Karl.
P.s. Share your own successes (or failures) of writing with stolen time. Feel free to comment below or on the Facebook page!)