I would rank tonight 2nd or 3rd in “All-Time Worst Bedtime Experience with Kids” so tonight’s post will be short as my wine IV is waiting so I can numb my feelings of despair and failure.
One of the speakers at the Writers Digest Conference shared this Author Bingo card with us. It’s perfect! She told us when we get five in a row, to go out and splurge.
My favorite is “Social Sitch: ‘I Have a Great Idea for a Book'”. Probably because that was so me, like 4 years ago.
I feel like I would have won Parent Bingo tonight if the squares included, “End the night with everyone crying”, “3-year-old throws self on floor multiple times”, “Discover maintenance broke your bath tub at 7 PM”, “Feel like the tantrum is your fault because you went to work this morning”, and “Rip a Duplo out of a small child’s hand”. Definitely not any of our finest moments. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
I love this kind of reflection. In the past, I’ve relied on memory alone to answer this question.
But since I bought a five-year journal last year, now I can read exactly what I was doing last year, on the same page I enter what I did today. Genius.
I always fantasized about keeping journals, but felt intimidated by the large blank page awaiting my entry at 11 PM when I’m about to go to sleep. This journal gives you six lines to enter something for the day — just enough to capture what you did, or felt, but not enough to take longer than a few minutes.
I tested the waters last summer and then began to fill it out religiously after Owl was born. I love looking back through the pages and looking at what was happening 3 months ago on this day, 6 months ago, 9 month ago . . .
I was doing the same thing with pictures the other day — on July 9. And then I found this gem.
This was the second-to-last night of our honeymoon. It was only four years ago but it feels like a hundred. We basically look the same, but there are more gray hairs (me), more lines on our faces, and some sagging skin here and there (me also). Those physical relics are our evidence of all the has happened — new life, loss, needing to be stronger, more energetic, more patient, more creative, more forgiving, and more loving than we sometimes think we can be. I look into these faces and see children, even though I was 35, and Eric was 39. Though we did not know it, nine months later we would be parents.
On July 9 of this year, BRK and Eric’s mom and I returned home from a trip to Florida to see my mom. This was BRK’s first flight as a toddler.
“Look, look out the window!” I urged, “We’re inside a cloud!”
“Can I watch Shrek now?” BRK was laser-focused on the TV screen embedded in the seat in front of her.
“BRK, we are LITERALLY IN A CLOUD.”
“I want to watch Shrek.”
Seamless logistics, and Shrek on demand, returned us home without a scratch or a tantrum.
That night I wrote the following in the five-year diary: “Flew back home. Was so good to see Mom, to see BRK to with Mom.” I was tired and even those 6 little lines seemed to vast to fill.
I looked up, to last year’s entry, and then across the page, to the next entry, July 10, 2016:
“ . . . took Dad downtown . . . we went to Starbucks. Told him I hate that he has to go through this, and that I have so many good memories and that I love him . . .”
The sensations of that day washed over me. The smell of Starbucks coffee permeating the car, the gray dress I wore, my belly grazing the steering wheel because it was full of 20-week-old Owl, that conversation.
Would I remember this if I hadn’t written it down? Of course. But there is something magical about getting to experience it again, on that day, one year later. And on the future July 10ths when I write in these journals.
I’m back, after a bit of a break. The seasonal transitions require stepping away, reflection. Another school year closes for me and this year, for 3-year-old BRK as well.
The kids are finally sleeping “late enough” for me to resume 5 AM writing. I’m grateful for this — it’s a meditation for me.
I’ve been taking a writing class and for a recent assignment, was tasked with describing a place. I chose to describe the place of being with a 3-year-old before her bedtime, a place I typically encounter with impatience, but that on this day, I wanted to relish.
Here it is:
My body sinks into the couch, deeper than her 3-year-old body sinks into me. But she exerts a weight on me, for sure. A weight just heavy enough for my quadricep muscles to call out, “She’s not a baby anymore.”
The gray velvet of the three-piece sectional couch is soft and comforting. I ignore the stray blue and purple marker streaks, the ones that sweat-inducing scrubbing couldn’t touch. A dark triangle of space connects the piece of couch I lay on and the adjacent piece. Every single day, multiple times a day, I align the couches. And every day, multiple times a day, couch chaos elves undo my work.
Her head feels musty against my lips. Her strands of curly hair damp from the bath, murmuring orange and rosemary into my nose, from the adult shampoo and conditioner I use on her. Her head is still so warm, like, a baby’s. I’m inhaling vapors from a greenhouse of toiletry scents.
Her hands feel warm and dirty against my face. One holds fingers that inevitably just crawled into a nostril then climbed into a mouth, and now it rests on my cheek. I miss her pale soft baby hands that even when encrusted in baby poop, somehow never felt dirty to me.
Her mouth opens and paradise spills out. “I am a BIG. OAK. TREE. Stuck in the GROUND. IS. ME. If I had JUST. ONE. WISH. I’d like to DANCE. LIKE. THIS.” She strikes each note like a mallet to a tone bar. Will she be a singer one day? Will her brother? Will we have a family band?
I sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to her and she sings along. Her voice matches mine, at times in a perfect overlap. She clutches the tail of her lovey, the stuffed dog named Big Oof. Big Oof’s wet tail brushes my neck. I wince. The tail smells like a garbage truck on a stifling summer day. To my daughter, that tail plus her thumb in her mouth defines comfort.
She asks me if we can just rest here. I say yes. I never say yes. I always say, “No, let’s go brush teeth and then you can rest in bed.” But tonight is different. Two nights ago the news shook me. Yesterday I googled “middle school bullying”. Today I was at the doctor for a lump on my neck, which turned out to be nothing more than muscle strain from dental work gone bad. My tooth throbs, and it will until I go to the dentist tomorrow.
So now, in this moment, on this couch with my 3-year-old, I want to rest. I want to bottle this moment. The label would read, “Putting June to Bed, June 5, 2017”.
Those musty curls are dry now, soft silky threads scattered against my chin. Her body rises up and down, faster than mine. We are drifting, drifting . . . BOOM she jerks awake.
I am writing a book. And realizing that while writing is an art, it’s also got to have some hard features as a practice in order for it to GET DONE. And I feel if I blurt out those hard features here, my likelihood of getting it done skyrockets.
3,000 words/week PLUS 30 weeks EQUALS a draft by Christmas. I will use the Ink On app to track my progress!