How do you know when it’s time to tip the balance? You know the one I’m talking about. The one between being mommy and being yourself. The scale is always dipping one way or the other, but for the past eight months — my first few as a mother — it’s definitely been all mama, all the time.
And as fulfilling as it has been, it’s also been exhausting. So for me, it seems the time has come to balance that scale — or maybe even tip it a bit in the other direction.
See, long ago and far away, I used to claim that I didn’t have a novel in me.
If you’ve been reading my grad school posts — I’m in an MFA program in fiction — you’ll know that I’ve since changed my mind. And the reason I’m paying ridiculous amounts of money for what is, technically, a financially stupid move is that I need motivation and deadlines.
But having an 8-month-old, working, and life in general really doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for writing.
One of my favorite authors, Julie Buxbaum — also a new first-time mama — wrote recently on her blog that she couldn’t figure out why she’d been blocked for so long. Just lethargic when it came to motivation. And she finally figured it out one day when her baby was just about Kavi’s age. It was the first time in months that every single spare thought wasn’t consumed by baby-ness. She was becoming herself again — and her brain was inhabited by characters, rather than thoughts of bottles, diapers, toys, and college funds. It was a minor miracle. And I’m glad someone else felt it, too.
So now that Kavi’s 8 months old, I need to let my brain air out, let some of the obsessive baby-focus slip to the background. And I need to charge full speed ahead.
Thankfully, November is National Novel Writing Month, and maybe that will give me the kick in the pants I need. The beauty behind this novel writing month is that it’s a sprint, a challenge — get as much of your tour de force done in 30 days as possible. And there’s accountability, which is key.
For some people, that will be an impressive 50,000 words. But for some, it might eek in at just under 10,000. (That’s 40 pages — still no joke.) And no doubt, in the scale that their life is measured in, it will have been no less impressive. I’m ambitious, but not dumb. And so, I’ll put myself in that latter category, then go for it with gusto. If I make my goal, yay! And if I don’t, at least I’m working hard toward something.
So this month, I plan to focus, focus, focus on the task at hand. And while I’ll still be there to love and cuddle and nurture my baby, I’ll also take the time I need to nurture my passion.
The way I see it, there are actually two angles to this. On the one hand, Kavya’s presence in my life motivates me like nothing else to finally take the reigns and reach for my goals. A happy mommy is a happy baby, and I so want her to be proud of me.
We’re mamas, but that’s not all we are. We all have goals. Mine is to be a published author. Yours might be to have your own makeup line or be a ski-jump champion or to homeschool your kids or to own your own restaurant. So this month, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, why not charge full speed ahead yourself? Even if you don’t make it to the finish line, you might just make a good dent.
What goal are you reaching toward?