“Mommmmyyyyy!” I hear my four-year-old wailing from his bedroom.
It’s the fourth time he’s called me in there, and the clock reads 10:35 p.m. It’s a weeknight, and I want to scream. All I ask after a long day is to drink a glass of wine and watch a half hour of Bachelor Winter Games before I inevitably fall asleep on the couch. A friend has just shared with me an article called “Study Confirms Putting Kids to Bed Earlier Is Better for Mom’s Mental Health,” and to this I say LOLOLOLOL.
As I go to tuck in my son and reassure him for the zillionth time that there are solid brick walls between him and the darkness outside, I remind myself that this is not a waste of time. Instead, “This is the work.”
I’ve had to repeat this mantra more than usual lately. The kids have had colds and have been clingy and fussy. The baby has wanted to be in my arms at all times, not understanding that this prevents me from washing her clothes, cleaning the kitchen, or doing much of anything else.
“This is the work,” I remind myself again.
These interruptions feel frustrating, like detours from whatever I want to be doing at the moment. And they are. But they’re also the actual, boots-on-the-ground work of parenting, not just a distraction to push past to get to the real stuff. I want my son to feel safe and learn to sleep better. I want to comfort my daughter when she’s sick. The minutes and hours I put in now are an investment in an outcome that’s important to me: happy, healthy kids.
This philosophy applies to creative work, as well. This TinyLetter has been sitting in my drafts since last fall, and I keep trying to get it right, changing out the anecdotes and tweaking the phrasing like I’m trying on hats. I’m still not quite happy with it. But I keep plugging away, because one of my 18 for ’18 goals is to write a post biweekly. Even when it’s not quite working, this is the work.
The darkness outside won’t hurt you. Shh, baby, sleep. Type / delete / repeat. This is the work. This is the work. This is the work. A mantra to repeat often, as many times as it takes to get you where you want to go.
what’s fueling me
Elizabeth Gilbert recently lost her beloved partner, Rayya Elias, and posted this video of Rayya singing at the top of her lungs to the Doobie Brothers, full of joy in the midst of her suffering.
Amy Purdy’s story on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast gave me chills. Amy lost both of her legs to bacterial meningitis at age 19, but she has gone on to be a Paralympic snowboarder, model and actress, nonprofit founder, author, and competitor on Dancing with the Stars (I watched her in utter awe). She is a reminder that so many of our obstacles are internal, and there’s nothing really stopping us except for our own fear. I can’t wait to watch her TEDx talk, Living Beyond Limits.