“When women were birds…we knew our greatest freedom was in taking flight at night,
when we could steal the heavenly darkness for ourselves,
navigating through the intelligence of our own stars and the constellations of our own making….”
—Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds
I’m a stay-at-home mom to three sons (ages 6, 3, and 15 months) which means the evenings are not exactly the hours when I fly through the heavenly darkness of my own making. Evenings are when I do everything in my power to get my kids to sleep, generally that includes yelling, and then I engage in a few minutes of brainless television before falling asleep on the couch in a puddle of drool.
My mind shuts down at 7pm; well, probably 4pm if I am honest with myself. I just happen to drink enough coffee to fake it until my husband gets home to help take over with the kids. So, no. I don’t fly at night. I have zero creative energy in the evenings. I’ve finally accepted that I am not in a season of soaring. Mine is a stop-and-start kind of flying. Flight lessons takes place in the small corners of my day—the fifteen minutes when my kids eat lunch or the hour after I try (and often fail) to get them to nap simultaneously.
I began a book project during my first pregnancy. Seven years later, I’m still on chapter four. Blog posts that should, ideally, take a couple of hours are sometimes in process for weeks. That’s okay. I’m okay. In my current season of potty-training and carpooling, the writing life is not one of luxurious walks in nature, noting how the stream caresses the rock and then, god-like, forms it into something malleable. Nor is it the red-breasted robin outside my window who I observe long enough to inspire devotions on mothering. And writing is definitely not the lessons I learn from lengthy hours of stillness at a retreat. Writing is my lovely little interruption.
I’m a writer investing in instances.
I’m new to the Redbuds, but thankful for a community of women who understand what I mean when I say that I adore my family. They are one of God’s greatest gifts in my life and I believe my role as wife and mother is a ministry. But, there are also times when I fight to keep present with them, because my laptop is beckoning me with those come-hither eyes.
When my husband catches me drifting off, it is because I am preoccupied over the perfect turn of phrase. I’m fixating on the free time I’ll have that afternoon to justify another day without exercise so that I can create something new. I’m consumed with coordinating play dates so that I can have one precious hour with my beloved file, Chapters one, two, and three. For agent.
Writing has become my kept-woman, and when the moment is right, I wholeheartedly rush to her side. I meet her in the mornings before my house wakes up. We steal seconds away together in the bathroom. I scribble love notes to her on my grocery lists. She is the secret lover that I fantasize about spending vacations with, but instead settle for little trysts when I think no one will miss me.
My children might be graduating from college when I finally put the last bullet point on my book outline, but I’ll keep returning. What else can I do? If I’ve learned anything from my love affair with writing, it is that I will only truly navigate the stars when I am most thankful for and present with the good gifts God has put right in front of my eyes.
My prayer is that in His perfect timing, there will be a stage of life when I can stop for hours to write about how that leaf fell and reminded me of my dead grandfather; a time when I can spend a week in silence at a monastery, writing on holiness. Today, I’ll settle for the half hour my children are distracted by Mickey Mouse, so that I can rendezvous with my writing mistress, my passionate distraction, my flight instructor.
I’ll give her some attention, and then she’ll remind me to put her down and go back to my family. There will be a season when I can more freely soar the constellations of my own making.
For now, my brightest stars are a little closer to the ground.