There’s always a next thing you have to do whether you’re a writer or a stay at home parent.
You can’t just write a book proposal. You need to show that you have other ideas for future books. You need to think of blog posts, articles for magazines, and additional places to build awareness around your work.
You can’t just publish a book and wait. You have to beg and beg and beg people for reviews, make endless asks for social media mentions, and seek out any place where you can sell your book to a group of people in your intended audience.
You need to start the diaper washing and folding cycle early in the day if you want to have enough by the time evening rolls around.
You need to think about how much milk has been pumped into the bottle just in case you need it.
You need to watch for signs of sleepiness because heaven knows he’ll be a hellion if you wait too long to put him down for his nap.
I’m always thinking of the next thing, trying to anticipate the next moment. And when I grow weary, I just stop thinking and sort of flip my brain into neutral, not really thinking about anything all that much.
I catch myself moving, thinking, and worrying, and I realize that I’m not relaxed or calm or in the moment.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Anne Lamott about a moment like this, it’s that I need to breathe. So I suck in a deep breath and let it go. I can feel my shoulders relax. I force my brow to loosen up. I pay attention to my hands, making sure they’re not clenched.
I stop myself mentally, even if I still need to keep moving. I’m now in the moment–at least for a little while. Of course I’ll need to plan ahead all of the time, but always planning is a terribly stressful way to live with a child or to write.
Worst of all, living for the future alienates me from God, who desires to be with me in the moment and to provide for me today.
God can’t provide for the future because it isn’t here, and I think that obsession with the future is one of the ways we are unhinged and distanced from God.
I take my breath, say a pray from the Liturgy of the Hours, and I thank God that he’s given us breath, peace, and joy right now in this moment.
I’m celebrating the release of my book First Draft Father this week by sharing select chapters. It’s a compilation of an online journal that I kept after the birth of our first child, and it documents my journey from insecure, overworking writer to over-tired but over-joyed father.
Read more in First Draft Father.
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