Friday, May 13, 2011

Saying Yes to the Impossible

As I sit here writing this, my 17 month old son is sound asleep and my belly is getting in the way of my writing because I’m 24 weeks pregnant. (And this baby boy is going tap-tap-tap.) I feel like I must be a little bit out of my mind to be having a second baby so close to the first—or at all, for that matter. Two babies under two and me 44 years old. Who has time to talk about inspiration when there is laundry to do and a (new) baby’s room to plan?

A friend asked me last week—two days before my 44th birthday—if I felt like I was more creative this pregnancy than I was with the last one (oh so long ago, back in 2009). At first I said no—I’m tired constantly and I’ve had to turn my back on my best friend caffeine, I’m now spend a good chunk of what used to be my writing time chasing after a toddler instead, I have a thousand things to do to get ready for this baby, etc. I have missed anthology deadlines, I’ve put aside big project ideas because I don’t have time for them, I have half-written stories and essays gathering digital dust on my laptop.

But as the conversation progressed I mentioned two new story sales that week, signing the contract for my newest anthology, being invited to join the OGG blog and being excited about writing nonfiction. It didn’t take me long to realize that I am inspired. Is it this pregnancy, is it the cute toddler who runs me ragged, is it this stage of my life? I don’t know. But I seem to have inspiration coming out my ears. If only I had more hours in the day…

I don’t know if it’s parenthood—or impending motherhood—that inspires me, or if it’s something more. Motherhood brought with it a sense of… I don’t know what to call it… peace? Calm? Something. All I know is that things that once mattered to me no longer seem all that important. I’ve learned to let go of my expectations and in the process I’ve become more productive. In some ways, at least.

In those early months after my baby was born and my husband was deployed, I expected nothing of myself except to take care of the baby and, if there was anytime left, to take care of myself. Granted, that’s about all I was capable of for the first six weeks, but then something miraculous happened: I found my new mommy groove and discovered that routine was my best friend. Suddenly, I had blocks of time—small blocks, but still blocks—where I could do something other than wash bottles and laundry. I could write! Or, if not write, I could daydream and plot and think about writing! It was a good feeling.

I joke that I “conceived” my first anthology the same month I conceived Patrick. I didn’t yet know I was pregnant when I started pitching anthology ideas because—get this—I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Suddenly, I was dealing with prenatal appointments while figuring out how to be an editor (and while also doing my own writing). Then I signed a second contract, and a third and fourth… and then I was pregnant again. Suddenly, I’d gone from not feeling challenged to feeling like maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. A couple of months ago, I didn’t think I had time in my schedule for one more thing—but I’d thought that a year ago, too. And the year before that. What is too much? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

And then I was offered a contract to edit a fifth anthology and I faced a moment of truth: back-to-back anthologies, writing projects and deadlines, a 17 month old, a home, a spouse, a social life I didn’t want to give up… I took a deep breath and I said yes. Yes, I’ll edit another anthology that’s due to my publisher the same week my second baby is due to be born. For that matter, yes, I’ll have a second baby at the age of 44 with a husband whose naval career might have him deployed again in a few years, leaving me alone with two young boys. Yes to all of it—the crazy, sleepless nights with a newborn, the insane deadlines of a writer and editor, the unpredictability of military life, the limitations of a body solidly in middle age despite the youthful-looking baby belly. Yes. More. Yes.

This is the inspiration of parenthood for me—the ability to let go of my expectations of what I can do and what I can’t do and to throw caution to the wind and say yes. Watching my son learn and grow and do everything with a rebel yell has made me braver. I have discovered a new appreciation for my own strength and abilities, both physically and mentally. Parenthood has made me say yes to the possibilities that once seemed impossible. Maybe that’s because I know the grim statistics about women in their 40s being able to have children and I still beat the odds—twice. I no longer believe anything is impossible.

The experience of motherhood has made me feel as if I’ve discovered a new well of creativity. A well grounded in life—the creation of it and the nurturing of it-- and an appreciation for it. A well that bubbles patiently while I care for a toddler or take a nap because pregnancy is exhausting. A well that will be there, fertile and ready to be tapped… whenever I can find the time.

2 comments:

  1. You're amazing, Kristina. I don't have nearly as much responsibility or as many tasks as you - and judging from your post, I'm far less productive.

    Although I've never had children, I do understand your comments about priorities. A child has to be the number one priority in one's life, and I can see how that would be liberating, simplifying many choices.

    Warmly,
    Lisabet

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing, Kristina! But I do know what you mean about having new priorities and making the most of "spare time" that can be counted in minutes or seconds.

    ReplyDelete