Putting Myself to Bed
Since delving deeper into THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron, I’m realizing that as artists – and as individuals – we must learn to deal delicately with ourselves, as if we are the children we once used to be. Through Cameron’s urging, I am starting to handle myself in a slightly more gentle manner, exercising hesitancy in berating myself when I make a mistake and loosening my grip on the faucet of guilt when I don’t perform up to my own standards.
Like earlier today. After a chaotic morning that started out giving a breathing treatment to my seven-year-old son at 6:15 a.m. – and ended with carrying a kicking and screaming three-year-old (who’s really the size of a four-year-old) through the doors of his preschool, I was fit to be tied by 8:15. Wiped out, really. The scene this morning followed two full days of being a single mom while my husband was away on business … two days of being solely responsible for running our household, overseeing homework, shuttling to and fro to practices, pleading with my three-year-old to just be a big boy and sit on the potty, cleaning the litter box, making dinner, bandaging ouchies, registering my first grader for summer camps so I won’t go insane starting in June, dirty dishes, dirty laundry, building a fort in the dining room, administering breathing treatments, a couple trips to the doctor, charging the battery on the Gator, going to the park, chasing butterflies, making lunches, finding shoes, digging through sock drawers, tantrums, wiping boogers, baths, spooning out equal portions of yogurt, refereeing squabbles, bedtime stories, stepping on Legos, kisses goodnight and herding the cat back in from the creek.
Up until this point, you probably thought I had it all together, right? Fooled ya. Didn’t I.
The truth is, I’m always one juggle away from dropping a ball and seemingly several steps behind where I want to be. My to-do list is really a big snarling monster that never ever stops being hungry no matter how many tactical items I feed it. I saw today, Friday, the last day of the official “work week” as my chance to hack away a good portion of it before heading into the weekend. I planned to do my morning pages and then work on my novel, brainstorm for a series of upcoming guest blog posts, follow up on some speaking opportunities and finish with a lite pubbing of LITTLE 15 on Twitter and Facebook – all by 2:30 so I could jump in the car and pick up the boys. But as I sunk down at my desk and allowed myself to slow down enough to write my morning pages, I could feel the weight of my eyelids pressing down. Even with two cups of coffee, I still felt exhausted – and drained. Of everything. And I was getting angrier by the moment. I had nothing left to give my inner artist today, and I knew for sure she had nothing to give me. I looked around my house and felt myself deplete more. It was a mess. Down, down, down my mood began to fall, twisting and writhing until I felt the rumble of a full-blown tantrum. That’s about when the upper-right corner of my head began to throb.
So just like I do with my young sons when they are tantrumming (I know, that’s not a word) and overly exhausted, I walked myself into my darkened bedroom, summoned my cat, and put myself back into my unmade bed. I don’t remember falling asleep or if I even had the chance to pull the covers to my head. That said, I can’t emphasize enough how uncharacteristic this was of me. Unless I’m ill or have a newborn, this self-driven, fierce-minded author wouldn’t even begin to let a nap cross her mind on a so-called “work day.”
Nevertheless, two hours later, with a puddle of slimy drool on my pillow, I woke to the same messy house, the same monster to-do list and to the same unwritten novel. But I felt a tinge better. I detected a ripple of energy. I felt like I could actually function. And I felt good enough to bang out this post with exactly 13 minutes to spare before leaving to pick up my boys.
Do you think that’s enough time for a shower?