I banished Milo to the bedroom this morning. He woke up before my 5:15 alarm, bringing a crinkly, plastic wrapped library book into our room and asking to read it. Ben talked him into getting into bed with us instead, and I scrambled to hit my phone before the weird alarm beeping got loud enough to wake Elliott, too.
I came out to the kitchen and decided to be a grown up about the leftover chili that crusted into the pan on the stove overnight. I set the pan to soak and gathered up milk cups from under the table and used up the last of my coffee to get a pot going, dreaming about tomorrow when I'd let myself get a takeout coffee from my favorite place. I haven't gone to any strange lengths to get one for myself yet this week. Things are better when you miss them a little.
So I'm just finishing the kitchen tidy that every advice book tells me will increase my happiness if it actually happens at night, and I hear his little feet pattering, and I get that torn feeling that I get every single morning. He really is too precious with sleep still in his eyes and messy hair, asking if it's time for lunch yet before he's even stopped squinting against the light. But. Oh baby, go away. He snuggled up to me and I asked him our normal questions. Did you sleep well? (uh huh) What did you dream about? (Ella. This chick from daycare is huge at our house right now.) Then I tell him that I want him to go back and sleep with Daddy.
"No! I want to do work on the picapucter [computer] with you!"
"This is my only time of day where I'm not with kids. I need to be alone right now."
"Then I'm watching Waddin [Aladdin]."
"Aladdin a weekend movie. It's a school morning."
Ben got him back in our bedroom and put on Mickey Christmas, a Netflix movie he's inexplicably obsessed with right now. I hear him making offhand comments about his stomach grumbling, but mostly, he's quiet and contained. Elliott has slept through the whole exchange. Ben tells me to go get my time in.
I settle down with my coffee. I freeze. These are my 45 minutes, the precious ones that I fiercely protect. I'm starting to get uncomfortable with the idea of spending them idly on Facebook. I read a little from a few bloggers that get me fired up. I stare blankly at my blog page. I'm working on redesigning some of the elements, and I'm only halfway done. I can't figure out what is important enough to do during this time. I'm wasting it.
I opened up this post and starting clacking away because I know that, for me, the answer is usually: just write. Write something, something dumb, and then my next step is usually to share, put it out there, in all it's dumbness, because that's what I love. Sharing something I wrote. "Real life," regular day-to-day work and appointments etc etc, it definitely mutes me a bit. When I do carve out time, I panic about how to spend it well. But I never regret just writing it all out, memorializing the way I felt for 45 minutes before the sun came up on September 25th, 2014.
I feel silly, calling what I do my writing practice, but I need to get comfortable claiming this for myself. I do write, and do it in different ways, and use it capture different feelings. This blog is a huge outlet for me. Writing makes me feel connected, helps me organize my thoughts, and gives me hope. I daydream about using my words to make money for my family. Until I'm ready to pour my energy into that endeavor, writing here helps me practice. It's worth waking up early, and worth banishing your kid from the living room until the sun is up. He'll forgive me.
What is your outlet? Do you have a hobby or a ritual that you repeat often? How do you protect that time for yourself? I hope you give yourself permission to guard an hour or so for yourself, however impossible it may seem. Do weird things to give yourself that time. You deserve it.