On October 15–just two short months ago–I welcomed a beautiful, “little” 11 lb 6.4 oz girl into this world. And I feel as if I've changed so much throughout pregnancy and new mommyhood, too. I'm not as quick-witted as I once was, I rarely have time for anyone or anything other than my precious, little bundle, and I'm just plain exhausted.
Still, I wouldn't trade Baby Phoenix for the world. While part of me bemoans the fact that the day seems to end just as quickly as it started and that little if anything from my ever-growing to-do list has actually been completed, I love, love, love being a mommy.
So why then have I unapologetically decided that I need to take back some time from my infant daughter, who depends on me and her daddy for literally everything in her world?
It's simple, really. I want her to know me–not some wrung-out, zombirific version of myself. As she grows I want her to know her mama is smart, ambitious, creative, and has dared to follow her dreams. I want her to know that since I'm all these things, she can be, too.
And the number one way I can do this for myself–and for her, too–is to keep writing.
When my pregnancy complications began to surface in the late first trimester, I reluctantly admitted to myself that I'd probably have to give up writing to make time for this big new part of my life.
When my brain went completely kaput in the second trimester and my vocabulary started to fail me, I officially had to stop writing, though I told myself it was only for a little while.
When my vision started to get sketchy due to the preeclampsia I developed in my third trimester, I knew I wouldn't start writing again any time soon.
And when my preeclampsia actually worsened in the month and a half following delivery leading to hypertension, I decided I was done writing for good–and that, no, I didn't, no, I wouldn't miss it.
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves…
Now that my baby is sleeping better and my hypertension has vanished, I'm starting to feel a bit like myself again–and a bit restless, too. I see my friends online discussing their latest writing triumphs, and I feel nostalgic. The fans who've stood by me through all my delays remind me how excited they are for book #3 in my series, and I feel guilty.
Nope, there's no way I can stop writing for good.
Writing is such a big part of who I am. With 9 children's books, 3 novels, 1 novella, and countless bits and pieces of other things under my belt, writing is, in fact, something I've worked very hard at over the years. I've learned how to take the seed of an idea and grow it into a mighty novel. I've learned how to build characters readers care about and to create plot twists nobody saw coming. I've learned how to eliminate passive voice, reduce SOB verbs, drop “I-bombs,” and minimize adverbs and adjectives.
In short, I've learned how to say something with my words.
I fought for the title of author; grasping that elusive, golden ring has made me quite proud of myself. So, then, what is my daughter supposed to think if she finds out I gave up this huge part of my life for her? I don't think she'd feel very good.
And if I give up the single, biggest defining characteristic of who I am, will my daughter–can my daughter–ever really know the real me?
Like the baby in my arms, I lovingly nurtured this craft. Now that it's harder to care for, how can I just let it die?
The short answer is: I can't. I must keep writing.
Even though it may seem selfish to escape the house and head to my favorite coffee shop for some much coveted writing time or to ask my husband to respond to her cries because I'm “in the middle of something,” I'm not going to feel guilty.
After all, my precious baby girl will be right there waiting for me when I get back, and we can hug and snuggle and giggle then.