Keeping priorities straight: It’s not an easy thing for me to do.

When I started the ‘Roost’ back in January, the purpose of the blog was to create a space for intentional ‘daily’ writing practice. And also, maybe, along the way, to record some anecdotes for the good old family memory book.

The blog got off to a well enough start, but creativity and productivity have stalled somewhat in recent months. I guess that’s to be expected, given we have a new baby in the house. There’s really not a lot of free time during which I can just run off to the local coffee shop to sit and stew with my thoughts each day, typing away at the keys. What with swim lessons, and nursing sessions, and inconsistent nap schedules—and—have I mentioned I’m now a mother of five two-to-three days a week, since I’ve agreed to help my sister by caring for her two kids this summer? (They are actually quite pleasant and helpful, so, so far, it’s been a pretty nice arrangement).

I’m a person who thrives—creatively—only when she has time to herself. Moments of quiet in which to daydream, or simply, process. The moments don’t need to be very long, but they do need to happen. Otherwise, I get cranky. I feel stale and overwhelmed. Defeated. Which is how I feel now.

I find it terribly disappointing when 8:30 p.m. rolls around on any given day when I haven’t written, or at least thought of something to write for the blog. Because by that time, if it hasn’t gotten done, it’s just not going to happen. Sleep is way more necessary than writing is important right now.

The truth is, I probably do have time each day to write. I just don’t make it my top priority. I choose to spend my time doing other things instead, hoping I’ll be able to write later. Always later. How is it that the things that quite possibly nourish and fulfill us the most—in my case writing and exercise and meaningful time spent with my kids—get pushed to the side in lieu of other, less important, but still urgent-seeming tasks nonetheless?

It’s like I have this mental checklist of things I need to accomplish before I do the things that I find pleasurable. 

Take a walk with the kids in the morning to get fresh air and much needed endorphins to start the day? Nope, gotta start in on the growing laundry pile. Play house with the kids, or make art at the table? Not yet. Kitchen’s a mess. Gotta clean it up. Get out the computer and write while the kids nap? Or, better yet, take a nap myself? Are you kidding? That’s the only time I have to tidy up the place and run the vacuum across the floor.

Liam has always tried to help me see straight. “Sit down and rest. Does that [insert meaningless chore] really need to be done right now?” Of course it doesn’t. Don’t people always advise: The vacuuming can wait. Right? It will always be there.

That’s the problem! It will always be there! So, it needs to be taken care of! Immediately! Every time! 

For only when the floors are clean, the dishes put away, the laundry folded and stashed in dresser drawers, can I permit myself the space within which to write and create, go on walks, to sit down and breathe.

Pretty effed up, huh? This is the way I work. The way I rationalize and compartmentalize. It’s compulsive, I know. So, as life with three little ones is extremely messy and loud, and relatively inescapable, you can understand why it’s been awhile since I’ve written, and why the posts have been infrequent. I’m trying to work on the priority thing.

I’ve started setting the laptop on the table in the mornings as a gentle reminder that I should sit and write whenever I have the opportunity. And, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to play with the girls a bit each day, to let loose and just have fun with them both. And, to talk to, make smiley faces at, or simply stare at the baby (he’s getting so big!). I even let myself give in to reading a nearly 500-page John Grisham paperback this past weekend. It’s pretty much all I did from evening Friday until I finished it on Sunday afternoon, thanks to the hubs for picking up some major parenting slack.

I do know how to relax, you know. It’s just that I have to do about thirty-seven things first, before I’ll let myself cave. I’m working on reducing that number substantially, or simply being able to say to the girls, “You want to have a tea party for the next five hours straight? You got it! But what about that mess in the living room? Oh, don’t worry about that, sweeties. In fact, fuck it all! Who’s pouring first?”

Well, minus the whole ‘fuck it all’ part. I imagine that part I’ll say in my head. You get the point, though.


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