On Coffee Shops, Breastfeeding and Writing

I have one hour. One hour to myself. And here I sit at Starbucks. Realizing how much I have missed this time; time to write and think and let my mind wander amidst, the buzz of milk steaming, people chatting and the computers keys tapping. I have always worked well in a coffee shop; studying during college, writing papers and lessons plans during grad school and spending an afternoon writing always just comes easier when I’m away from home. I am not distracted by the piles on my desk, or dishes that should be washed or  the sudden urge I have to keep opening the fridge looking for a snack. Somehow I find clarity through the noise of a coffee shop. And I have missed it.

There have been a million changes in the past three months. Maybe the biggest is that being a mother is all-consuming. When I go to yoga, I find myself glancing down at my cell phone throughout the entire class. Will Gerber call because she’s still fussy? Is she ok? When I go the office for a meeting, I am consciously aware of her schedule. Is she sleeping? She should be tired. She napped 3 hours ago. Did she take the bottle? I put my hand over my chest. Did I feed her on the left side or the right side last time? Ugh. I can never remember, but I am always thinking about it.

And maybe more than sleepless nights or the hours of walking and bouncing and wondering why my child won’t nap, the hardest part of being a mom is that she consumes my thoughts, my mind, my heart– my everything. I think this is normal and probably good. She is my daughter, I am her mother. She is so little, and depends on me for nourishment, for her food. I am thankful that breastfeeding has come rather easy for us. I know for so many moms and babies this is such a source of pain and discouragement. So I count my blessings. But it is this strange, wonderful feeling to know that a tiny human is dependent on me. There are some days I find it beautiful and down right amazing how God created my body to produce milk with exactly the right nutrients and fats and antibodies that she needs. But there are other days it’s just downright exhausting. Sometimes I feel like she’s attached to my boob 24/7 and I am reminded that yes, being a mom is a “full-time” job.

This trip to the states has been such a gift. Gerber left last week because he had to get back to work, but Elena and I got to stay. My family has loved and held and bounced my sweet girl. They adore her and take such good care of her, but they have also taken care of me. I’ve been pumping more so someone else can give her a bottle. My mom has offered to watch her so my sister and I can go to a Zumba class or run by Target or stop and get frozen yogurt. And nearly every morning this week, when Elena wakes up and starts cooing before 6am, I bring her into my sister’s room. Who thank the Lord, is a morning person, and is thrilled to spend a few extra hours with her little niece. Which I means I get to spend a few extra hours in bed. This is like winning the lottery for a new mom.

I am eager to get back home to husband I miss and a home that needs decorating and a job that I enjoy. We are still figuring out this work-life balance and how to have some kind of routine. I am not teaching for the rest of this year, but I am still working, coordinating all of the volunteers and short-term groups and teams that come down to Guatemala. Gerber has flexibility in his schedule which is so nice, but it means some days he’s home by 1 or 2pm and other weeks he’s gone overnight for 5 days straight. He’s great with Elena, but we realize we probably need to hire a babysitter or nanny on a more consistent basis so I can work during the day and not try cramming everything in during the hours between 7-11pm when E’s usually sleeping.

And all of this scheduling, and mothering and planning makes me remember I want to make time for writing, too. But maybe I need to change the way I write. I read a post last night from a writer and blogger I really like. She talks about how sometimes our pride and desire to write something great, can prohibit us from sometimes writing something good. Sometimes I spend so much time, thinking, writing, re-thinking and editing before I hit publish.

It feels so frivolous to get a sitter or leave Elena with Gerber just so I can just go write. I have this horrible, practical voice that says I should be “getting something done.” Things like laundry and organizing my closet, or prepping meals for the week and responding to an always full inbox of questions. And then, and only then is there time for writing. But I have found all of those things are never going to be done, they will be ongoing. So if I am going to write I need to be willing to set-aside time and just write. I need to be ok with less than perfect writing. I need to accept that in this season of my life my writing may be scattered and un-edited and that’s ok. And instead of being paralyzed to make it “good” before I press publish, I need to be ok saying it is “good enough” for now.

I’d love it if I could get away once a week and write in a coffee shop for an hour like I am right now. But I know realistically my best writing may happen on my iPhone, taping the keys with one hand while breastfeeding with other other. This is my life right now.

How have you found time/discipline to write? What’s your secret? Do share. 

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5 thoughts on “On Coffee Shops, Breastfeeding and Writing

  1. Being a mom is not simple, is it. There is love, guilt, exhaustion and yes, thinking of your daughter all the time. Sophia is now 13 and I still feel that way. Is she okay, happy, living life to the fullest? Am I giving her experiences she will cherish and remember? And much of the time days fly past and we just do what we can to be good professionals, great moms, and good friends.

  2. Totally with you, Michelle! Finding any kind of balance with young kids and marriage and work and writing can feel totally overwhelming. I recently read this great post on the topic by Addie Zierman. You might enjoy it! :)http://addiezierman.com/?p=2020

  3. Oh, Helen…exactly! I love how the questions we ask ourselves changes, but the feelings and deep love do not.

  4. I love this post. You sum up so much of what I’m feeling these days. It’s so hard to be creative when you’re sleep deprived. I want to write, I yearn to write, and yet I can’t find the time. And when there is 30 minutes here or there I have about 50 other things vying for my attention. It’s brutally challenging and hard to not get down on myself.

    During Anna’s first year of life I struggled to find consistent writing time, but once she turned 1 (and her napping schedule had vastly improved) I began writing during her long afternoon nap. I also did a swap with friends and hired a babysitter once a week. I GOT SO MUCH DONE. And now I’m back to where I was a few years ago…a new baby who drains me creatively but fills me with lots of love. Keep finding time here and there and everywhere to pluck away at the keys just like you’re doing right now. It may not feel like anything significant, but as a reader I can tell you it is!

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