A well-meaning question that’s just as hard to answer. Sometimes I can truthfully answer — after a few solid 5am writing sessions — “good.”
Lately… it’s more complicated. “It’s going,” suffices for both of us, and is equally true.
But what I really want to say, and what no one has the time for, is that the baby was up for three hours on Friday night, so I slept in until 6.30. I had just enough time to finish one cup of coffee and open my laptop before I heard a tiny “mama Kai?” from the hallway. Cabin Girl is up. I tell her good morning and she sits on the chaise under the window and tells me about her dreams last night.
Then I let her have her tablet so I can finish a second cup of coffee and try to write, but I can never manage the latter once she’s up. Instead, I make her breakfast (cracking egg, scrambled eggs), go to the backyard to put some plants in the ground, and then the baby’s stirring and it’s 8am??
I get the baby dressed and snacked, I get CG dressed, and we’re on our way to get some bagels for my wife. I forget to wipe the dirt from my cheek, but someone helpfully points it out in line.
A chocolate muffin for CG, bites of my bagel for the baby, we sit at a booth and I try to strategize the morning. If I can wear out both kids, I might have time to write while they charge in the afternoon. Should I try to make the plant sale at the Natural History Museum? Maybe they’d have the flatwoods plum I really wanted. But before I float the possibility of hey, plants! with CG, I get a text from a mom friend — can we come over for a bit? She’s still feeling out of sorts from the flu (that we gave her, whoops) and her sitter canceled.
Of course! Soon I’m outside with four kids and a box of chalk but only the baby’s playing with the chalk; CG and her friend, 6, are in my car pretending to drive and the fourth child, 3, is sulking because she wants to go inside. What about a walkabout? “Yeah!!” shout the kids in the car and then there’s a rush to get shoes on.
We walk to 6’s elementary school and back — CG will be starting there in just a few months and wanted to see where it was. The baby walks for a little bit, but his short legs simply can’t keep up with the older kids, so I strap him to my chest for most of it. 3 gets tired, too, so I put her on my shoulders for the last stretch. She squirms off just when we reach their home and all three older kids run inside together.
I walk the baby inside and find the girls on their tablets already. I make popcorn for the girls and then hang out with the baby until it’s time to take CG to gymnastics. Her gym is packed, the busiest I’ve seen on a Saturday in a while. I bring the baby’s carrier because I’m not sure how he’ll be during the hour of gymnastics. CG runs off to warm up. I try to get the baby to settle in my lap, but he’s decided my lap is a slide. When I get tired of this, I put him in the carrier and bounce around and — oops, he’s asleep. Maybe he won’t sleep long?
Nope, he’s completely out for nearly the whole hour of gymnastics. So that’s his nap for the day. At least I get to watch CG tumble and jump and flip on the bars — as well as run around, be silly, and ignore her instructors. Ah well.
Home again and now both children are hangry. I give the baby to my wife and grab lunch and get CG fed. Then I tap out. I only mean to close my eyes for a few minutes and daydream of plot but I conk completely out instead. Whoops.
When I rise, the baby still hasn’t napped and CG is putting together a puzzle in her room. I try to put together the pieces of my brain and realize we should probably offer to bring desert when we go over to our friends’ later. They’re going to feed us dinner, after all. I spend too much time trying to find the Best Dessert nearby while CG plays with the baby and oh shoot, we should’ve left already.
CG is excited to see her friend, 5’s, house. CG and 5 start playing boardgames on the floor, the adults actually manage some conversation while corralling the 2 year old and bouncing the baby into a 2nd nap.
Then we go outside and the baby learns how to crawl up the baby slide and sliiiiiiiiiiide down and he’s living his best life and 5 teaches CG how to use her (kid-friendly) bow and shoot an (kid-friendly) arrow, and my wife delights in all the plants they have and I delight in the hundreds of lovebugs and the kids try to fly a kite but just tangle themselves up and then their mom shows me all the grubs in their compost.
Then it’s dinner time and two pairs of parents try to get two pairs of kids to eat. We end up trading off until CG and 5 had their fill and now they’re out front, playing with the neighbor kids. I lure them back inside with cookies. It’s getting past the baby’s bedtime, but the girls want to play one last boardgame, and then one last game. Fine, fine, but we have to go right after —
And we do, with the normal amount of goodbyes and we’ll see you agains and no really, CG, put your shoes on.
The baby is loopy. So are the mommies. We make it home, put the baby down only an hour late, and then work on CG. She’s tiiirred and dragging but we get her in jammies and in bed. When only one mommy is needed, I stumble into our room and fall face-first into bed, promising myself I’ll write in the morning.*
The baby wakes up at 4.30. He’s just chattering, so I grab the monitor to let my wife keep sleeping and start the coffee brewing. He keeps chattering. I give him a bottle, change his diaper, he goes back to sleep. For 5min. Then he’s up and down, fussing but not really, and I’m trying to write, but not really, because is this the time his fusses turn to cries? It’s 6am and he’s still going so I hold him and pat him and rock him until his body is floppy with sleep. Now it sticks.
I promised myself I’d go for a run this morning so it’s now or never. I put on shoes and headphones and head out the door. It’s a Zombies, Run! ending episode, so it’s all very exciting but also longer than usual.
CG is up when I return — whoops, that was an hour — playing games with other mommy. I make breakfast just as the baby wakes up. We take our time getting ready as I coordinate with my sis-in-law about meeting up to go blueberry picking. Pack up the car, tell CG to get her socks on (“but where ARE my socks??” they’re in her room, they’re always in her room), pack snacks that will never be the right ones or enough, put ice in the water because it’s going to be hot, wipes, extra clothes, swim suits because maybe we’ll stop by the lake after?, which also means towels, CG’s floaties, goggles, flip flops —
— and oh shoot, we were supposed to be in the car by now. We strap all the children in, doublecheck we have everything, grab that one last thing, and finally we’re gone.
The blueberry picking place is well-signposted and soon we’re pulling in just as my SIL and parents get there. Baby goes in the stroller and CG’s already running off with her cousin, 6. The bushes are full and the berries are ripe and the two girls have Been Here, Done This, so it’s the first year I’m not holding CG’s hand and showing her which to pick. Instead, she’s two rows over, competing with her cousin. I get to pick all by myself and it’s… a little lonely, actually.
With two fully capable kids and several adults, we soon have enough blueberries to last at least a week (in our house, anyway), and it’s getting hot and the girls are overheated, so we head in. But not without picking one last blueberry. No really, this is the last one. No, this is.
The field owners brought in a shaved ice truck because they’re wise, so we settle down in the shade while the girls (and the baby) eat shaved ice. There’s a breeze and it’s not too humid and it’s a perfect moment of exhausted while loading up on sugar.
There’s an animal sanctuary nearby and it closes soon! They have rescue pigs and cows and chickens and turkeys and goats and even a horse, as well as a new beehive that’s busy with activities. The girls head straight for the playground.
After a little bit of cajoling, they’re getting overexcited about the pigs (“there’s a pig! THERE’S ANOTHER PIG!!11”) and a little freaked out by the turkeys. There’s even a tractor ride (“I SEE A PIG!!!”). Then we have to pry the girls off the playground again because it’s two hours past this baby’s naptime and he’s getting slap happy.
The baby does not fall asleep on the drive back, which is probably for the best. I drop him and my wife off at home so they can both nap, then take CG the short distance to the massive pool at my parents’ apartments. There is Food and I am relieved I don’t have to figure out lunch. The girls eat all on their own and then play together on the floor and I have a moment where I just sit and stare at the wall for a while, the fact that I’ve been going since 4.30am catching up to me. My brain goes blissfully quiet.
Then it’s Pool Time!! so we get the girls in bathing suits. Sunscreen applied, towels and floaties and pool noodles grabbed. It’s just me and grandpa and two little girls. Can’t be that bad, right?
I forget that 6 can actually swim and soon I’m being attacked below by one child and attacked above by the other. We play keep away for a bit, where I’m the thing being kept away, then I get grandpa to come in and play with them so I can just ,,, float.
The water is a bit cold, because nights are still mild, so when the clouds roll in, both girls start complaining. We rinse off and head back for ice cream — grandpa has special color-changing spoons and it breaks the girls’ minds — and then CG’s cousin has to leave because school tomorrow and I’m fading faster than cheap hair dye.
We’re home again and now it’s a race to get the baby to bed and CG in jammies. I manage to help with dinner and putting the baby down a second time, and then I’m done. It’s barely 8pm and CG wants to do a puzzle and my wife tells me it’s ok, she’s got this, go to bed.
I’ll write in the morning, right?*
“How’s the writing going?”
I want to say all the above and more. That in theory I have the time, that I have the drive, that I have the want. That I plan on writing every morning. And I do…. sometimes.
And to be fair, not all weekends are like this. Sometimes both kids sleep in until 8am. Sometimes I run away for a few hours to a cafe with my laptop.
My WIP sits at 60k on its fifth rewrite and I hit my goal of 500 words more often than not. But the days that are “not” often look like the above and then Monday morning I’m riding a weekend hangover and still have to dayjob.
Like with the baby years, this won’t last forever. I can’t deny I’m not envious of those writers who can take a whole weekend to stew on their plot, to badger their characters, to rustle up complications. But I love this life and wouldn’t change it for the world.
“How’s the writing going?”