Time is a cruel motherfucker. WAIT, please, don’t go. I promise my language will get cleaner from here on out. (For this post, at least.)
It’s after midnight on a Tuesday and I’m up writing, not only this blog post but also a magazine article that’s due tomorrow, which is why I’m writing this blog post. Procrastination, I am your most glorious example.
Why isn’t the article done? Well, I can blame a million things, and they’d all be partly true: a busy schedule, slow replies from certain involved parties, writer’s block, the fact that my children have been sick and then made me sick and have kept me from sleeping for, oh, YEARS at a time; and also my long-time habit of finishing things AS THEY ARE DUE, because “I work well under pressure”. The last part is mostly honest, but also an excuse for my deeply embedded procrastination.
I always think I have more time than I do, until it disappears. Minutes to get out the door, hours to complete work projects, whatever. I am always going to be the person drinking coffee at 2am in order to finish a project by 3 or so, and wake up at 7 with a delirious pseudo-hangover from lack of sleep. I survive on caffeine and adrenaline, mostly, and an anxiety-fuelled inner drive to not be a complete failure.
If I weren’t the mother of two small children, I’d crash until late morning in order to support these late night marathons. That’s what I used to do, and while it was widely judged as a bad habit, I was pretty content. I don’t like mornings, I do like night-time, and I work better with no distraction. When everyone else is sleeping, I do the work of a thousand daytime-mes. And anyway, writers are always drunks and/or insomniacs, right? It makes perfect sense!
But then I had children – the best thing that’s ever happened to me, without a doubt – and things changed. I have to be up when they are, get them to and from school, care for them, engage with them, pack their lunches and break up their fights, soothe their nightmares and rearrange fallen blankets, provide an endless supply of strawberry yogurt drinks, and generally run their lives. I love being a mom, and dread the day when my children don’t need me as much as they do now, but it’s exhausting. And so is my job. And yet they co-exist! And I subsist, to an extent, to make it all happen. Which brings me back around: time.
The reason I stay up all night writing and working to exhaustion before getting up with my children in the early hours of the morning is because time escapes so cruelly and unceremoniously. I’m tired now, and want to sleep, but I’ll write this article and then get up with my children in the morning because I want to write it, just like I want to be the person who gets up with my children. I would never give that up. It’s a luxury that I’m extremely lucky to have – being a stay at home mom AND having a career that I love. And even if the combination is killing me some days, I’d rather push through than quit. The hard truth is unavoidable, and bittersweet: in the blink of an eye, my kids are going to be the ones up all night, writing exams or working or doing whatever fulfils their creative needs, and I’ll be somewhere else entirely, sound asleep, dreaming of days past when they called out for me in the middle of the night.
So for now, coffee.