Yesterday I woke just after 6 with my toddler. The sky is still dark, the crescent moon hanging high in the sky. While my groggy eyes are still trying to open, he wastes no time in starting his day. His chubby hands grab two toy cars on the coffee table, leftover from last night’s play. “Dallas room, Dallas room,” he says as he starts to race down the hallway to where his brother lies still asleep. “Shhh,” I whisper, motioning for him to come back to the living room. I’m thankful he listens before I need to peel myself away from the couch where I’ve buried myself under a soft white blanket. I lift up my pen to finish the morning pages I’ve started, unsure how long the house will stay quiet. Savouring this time while the world is still asleep.
One day my children will sleep in past 6, perhaps. Soon one will be off to school for the day. The other off to preschool. And suddenly there will be large sections of time — more than I have known for a while — to call my own. And I know there will be those days when the house remans quiet and clean, the toilet free of pee and grime. When I can walk from one end of the house to the other without crunching my toes on forgotten LEGO pieces. Those days when maybe, just maybe, I will long to hear the noise of them racing around the halls again, jumping on my freshly made bed, tossing around my neatly folded piles of laundry.
This is why I am not wishing away, or rushing away, these days. Instead of waiting for change, I am doing what I can, right now, to live the best life I know how to do.
We’re doing the right thing, mothers. As we fit our writing, painting, studying, designing, into the cracks and crannies of our lives — in between the chores and diaper changes and Monopoly games. It’s these things, these “interruptions” as they sometimes feel, that are the important things, they are the point. We let our art fuel them, not dominate them.
As Julia Cameron writes, if we are doing something for the sheer love of that thing, “there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run.” We keep stealing moments because it makes us feel alive. And a heart fully alive is one of the best things we can give to our kids.
We light the candle when those little heads are finally asleep, we consider this time sacred, to dream and create. To turn on a show just because we know it’ll make us laugh. When the dust bunnies underneath the arm chair mock us, and the dirty dishes in the sink yell out we’re lazy, we tell them to pipe down. This is our time and we’ll get to them later.
This week the kids and I have all been sick. I search for the silver lining of a week spent housebound. I linger longer with the book during nap time. I let them watch a movie to give me more time to write. And even though I’m pulled away, constantly, “More apples, please!”, “More Kleenex!”, “I need a drink!” I keep sneaking in moments with my pen, to fill in words, fill in the cracks, fill up my life.
We might not have our own offices, we might carry our work, our dreams on our backs like we do our children. We might not have 8 hours to pursue our idea, we might have 8 minutes. But we take what we can get, to remember what it is we love. We pray or journal or take a walk. We pause while we’re making the oatmeal to watch the sun rising above the trees through our kitchen window. Wow, there really is a whole wide beautiful world out there. We close our eyes and let it’s warmth wash over our face like a kiss straight from heaven. We listen to our favourite song again and again. These are the things that make us who we are.
We do the little things right now. Though they are not that little, you know. We are building momentum in our lives. We are finding our way, finding ourselves. And this world could use a lot more people who are becoming more comfortable in their own skin, who are making time to love and cherish themselves as they would a close friend.
We trust that these moments are leading us somewhere, that we are becoming more fully and wholly who we ought to be. And that as our children watch us, they will grow the courage to become more fully and wholly who they ought to be.
Maybe I write this to convince myself. Maybe I write this because some of you might doubt, too. That these moments you steal are selfish or wasteful. Not “productive” enough. Who defines productivity, anyhow? In ecology, productivity refers to how fertile, or capable, an area is. Nutrient-rich waters have high productivity. I can’t be nutrient-rich if I’m not making time to do what I love. When I make time to nurture my soil (or soul) my life becomes more rich, more fertile, more fruitful. More “productive”.
Doing the things we love is a gift worth giving to ourselves. As we light ourselves up we are lighting up the world. We are making a path for others to follow. We are becoming a lighthouse for those lost at sea. It might take some time for the fire to catch. To figure out what it is we need to do. To keep our promise to ourselves when things aren’t easy. But we gain muscle the more we say yes to the things tugging at our hearts. We’ll get stronger each passing moment we refuse to be a victim and instead claim as ours.
And we will look back, with pride, on the days that trail behind us because we did our best. We put ourselves in the way of beauty. Our lives have become a resounding Hallelujah. And in the words of Beyoncé, we can say:
I was here.
I lived, loved.
I was here.