I am bored.
How can I say that when I am chasing around an eight-month old constantly? Redirecting her attention from the fireplace to her talking computer; from the gnarled tangle of wires to a wooden block. How can I be bored, when my imagination runs wild; when I am constantly picking up, paying bills, running errands, writing articles, imagining winning the lottery, etc? Boredom isn’t something I regularly experience. It’s rare. But lately, as we’ve settled back into our post-holiday routine, every day feels a bit like Groundhog Day. Every day, there are certainties. Just a few:
1. I will get kicked no less than 37 times by Sophie during the night.
2. Alex will wake up on his night stand.
3. I will get approximately one hour to myself at the gym – this is the only time I will have alone for the day.
4. I will kiss Alex goodbye everyday at 8:30a.m. and pray for his building to implode so he no longer has to go into the office.
5. I will clean up the kitchen no less than five times per day.
6. I will clean up Sophie’s toys no less than 50 times per day.
7. I will stare longingly out the window, while petting Neruda for approximately three minutes; at which time, I will wash my hands and get on with my day.
There are breaks in this, of course. Last Friday, Alex took off from work so I could go to my sales and marketing meeting with my publisher, Agate.
It was my very first time being gone for a four-hour chunk. Miraculously, I was able to pump around 3 ounces (this is a BIG deal for me), and she was all dosed up on a smoothie, so I felt comfortable leaving her.
Sitting down with the amazing team, discussing my new book and the marketing push from now until its release in May, made me feel special. I was actually constructing sentences and ideas! I was making sense! I had something to say, and people were listening. They were looking at me. I wasn’t being cock-blocked by my beautiful baby!!!!
Was I wondering if my breasts might explode? Yes. Was I anxiously wondering how long it would take me to get home in Friday traffic? Of course.
But, it felt so lovely to collaborate on work that I had carefully crafted; work that I am proud of and hope others will read. But as I clutched my notes in my hand, I realized what “work” I had to do in order to gather more of an audience and a following before the big release date.
And here’s where it gets tricky to me: Promotion, in the terms of what it has become today, feels unnatural. I am a Twitter moron. I really don’t want to start a FB page in my name. I don’t want to chronicle everything I’m doing, eating, feeling, all to post online. I once talked to my former publicist who told me I needed to do all of these things, to which I replied how unnatural it felt. She replied: “Right, so you don’t want to do any of the work, but you want all the recognition?”
I laughed. “But it’s not work,” I wanted to respond. “It feels like a waste of time.” (I’m not saying this is a waste of time, but it’s how it feels to me.)
Of course you can make amazing connections via social media – something I would probably learn if I were to take the time to do it. I watch as other people’s blogs and sites burst with popularity; how blog-to-book projects happen overnight; how everyone takes notice of so-and-so, and how I feel I have so much to say if I were given the exact right platform. What’s their secret? How does it look so easy?
But work to me is using your hands. It’s in the construction of building, the teaching of students, the building of organizations. It’s using your imagination to create something so amazing that people are drawn to it. Can’t people magically find you in the stratosphere of the Internet? Is it too much to ask to be recognized while walking down the street? (I would actually loathe this.)
I’ve always loved to work: with training, with concocting nutritional plans, with writing, and now as a parent…These things don’t feel like work because I enjoy them. I don’t enjoy trolling the Internet, and I never have. I would rather sit down in front of a typewriter with a cup of coffee and Billie Holiday in the background. I am lame. I am not “with the times,” but I like that about me… I like that I am still a bit shy. But the fact that I must play the game makes me feel like a fish out of water. I can’t seem to find the quite right balance. So, perhaps the balance will have to find me.
This weekend was a new kind of balance. We celebrated Alex’s 32nd birthday a few days early. While my good friend watched Sophie, we ice skated with abandon, and as I tried desperately not to fall, I moved around that rink, feeling like a kid again. The icy wind on my cheeks, the sun blasting my face. Not a thought in the world, except how much I loved my husband, how happy I was, and how thankful I felt. Did I think about taking a picture and posting it on Facebook? Of course. I am conditioned to do so, to share every bit of my life, because that is just what we do.
It’s who we’ve all (mostly) become.
But I want to be someone different for my daughter. Someone who can hopefully enrich her life with interesting tidbits; someone who can teach her things.
As I picked up Alex yesterday from work and asked him how his day went, he began filling me in on all of these important accounts at work; all the decks he was designing, all the accounts Olson was trying to land. He then turned the question on me, and I literally drew a blank.
“Oh, you know,” I began. “I missed all of Sophie’s pees this afternoon. It was weird. So, the day was… filled with diapers.”
This was the summation of my day – literally. Diapers.
1. I sprouted some quinoa.
2. I made Alex a giant kale and romaine salad with homemade dressing, a steaming bowl of oatmeal topped with chia seeds, berries and organic peanut butter, and a green juice. I dropped it off at work with a little handwritten note.
3. I did some research for my next book.
4. I tickled Sophie; I played with Sophie; I napped with Sophie; I hauled Sophie to and from the car and up and down stairs; I showed the snow to Sophie; I cuddled with Sophie; I watched Sophie entertain herself with her toys.
5. I contemplated our lives and where the next step will take us.
6. I thought about stretching, as I always do, and then decided not to.
7. I counted down the hours until 5, so I could grab Alex to cook and breathe a sigh of relief as he took the “night” shift and chased after her while I lay on the couch, a cup of tea in hand.
Perhaps this is just a small rut. Perhaps I need a vacation. (Yes, God, as Alex and I have been out together TWICE by ourselves in eight months. This cannot be healthy.)
Perhaps I will feel differently tomorrow. But, for now, as my little girl sleeps, and I see this place has yet again become a tornado of strewn objects, dirty dishes, and piled laundry, I want to cry. Just a little.
I want to call my mother to empathize, but then I remember that she worked out of the home from the time I was three months old – because she had to – and I am immediately grateful for being here.
I will never pay a stranger to raise my child. The concept leaves me short of breath. No matter what sacrifices we make, it’s all worth it – to be here with her, to watch her every milestone and smile. I only wish Alex could join me… and hopefully, someday he will. (Maybe if I’d get my ass in social media gear, stop writing novel-length blog posts, and connect with a famous person, they could help make Power Vegan a bestseller, so I’d stop complaining.)
And while I might end up with an IQ of 70 and only be able to talk about diapers, I’m pretty sure I won’t regret it.
I am a mother. This is my job.
And it’s the best work I’ve ever done.