The little one is crying and needs you at once. Put down the laptop, unwrap the baby burrito swaddle it took you twenty minutes to roll, and go see what all the fuss is about. It’s probably the diaper. It was the diaper fifteen minutes ago, twenty-five minutes ago, and forty minutes ago – why wouldn’t it be the diaper again? So hoist the beautiful boy up onto the changing table, and be sure to sing to him.
“♫ Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and face the strain…” ♫
When Laura first asked me to write a guest blog post about balancing…
These seven wet creepers, four soaked sleepers, and two wet blankets aren’t going to wash themselves. And while you’re at it, you’ve got bottles to boil, bouncy seat batteries to replace, and nipple shields to scrub. Laugh at the fact that just two months ago, you’d never heard of the term “nipple shield,” and might’ve guessed it was part of Wonder Woman’s armor. But get this giggle out of your system quickly, because these things need to be scrubbed about five minutes ago.
Oh, and don’t forget to sing to him. He likes that, and you’ve sworn to keep him happy.
“♫ Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry…” ♫
When Laura first asked me…
The little one – he’s fussing again.
But wait! Its not the diaper! So run through the checklist… Is he hungry? Is he too hot? Too cold?
No, no, and no. He’s none of those. What he is, of course, is a newborn, which by definition makes him uber-gassy and fussy because of it. There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to fully soothe him ‘til his gastro-disaster passes, and when finally his crying becomes so fierce that his lower lip begins to tremble as though he’s painfully afraid, all you can do is take his tiny hand, lean in close…
“♫ Oo-ooh child, things are gonna get easier…” ♫
Eight wet creepers.
Three wet blankets.
All of his bottles are dirty.
And his favorite pacifier just fell to the floor.
“♫ I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…” ♫
Okay, let’s just cut to the quick of it. Here is the key to balancing a debut novel with a brand new baby boy.
Just stop trying.
Because no matter how much you adored and believed in your novel as you were writing it, or how deeply you longed to become a published author for, oh, two decades… These emotions are dust bunnies in the tornado that is your smiley, shiny, and sometimes whiny baby boy. So just give up thinking that you can balance the baby with the book, because it’s probably not going to happen.
And this may be the best possible thing that could happen to your writing career.
Nothing annihilates the pressure of putting your novel out there for the entire literary world to see quite like a gassy newborn. See, I’ve been at this parenting gig for almost six weeks now, and I have not yet found a writing groove. Not even close. Ideally, I would be charting a flight path for a follow up novel to Thank You For Flying Air Zoe, but I barely have enough spare time and energy to write a simple shopping list – and even those are riddled with typos.
But hey, check out the totally awesome new outfit we made for our little rock star!
Here’s the thing… Making my writing a viable full-time job would be huge for this new family of ours, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen overnight. And ironically, letting go of writing as my life’s urgent mission will probably be the choice that ultimately turns me loose and makes me a better writer. The less one worries about the outcome of an endeavor, the more they can just enjoy the ride, right?
Every parent I know tells me, “It gets easier,” when talking about time management. Soon enough, they promise, the little guy will sleep longer, communicate his needs more clearly, and I will begin to reclaim at least most of the life I once knew. And once I do, I’ll have a little extra somethin’ to add wind to my creative sails.
My son. See, he’s still too young to tell me this, but he’s rooting for me to succeed, too. I’m sure of it. I just know he’s pulling for me to eventually crank out a second book.
And maybe even a second baby.
I mean hey, if I’m gonna turn my world loose, I might as well go full tilt! Just imagine what loopy and lofty heights my writing could hit with all of this dizzying new material!
When Laura first asked me to write a guest blog post about balancing a new baby with a new book, I couldn’t help but smile at the simple fact that this lovely carnival of amazing events is now my life.
“♫ And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world.” ” ♫
Are you a parent trying to balance writing with bringing up a family? Or do you have other challenges that cut into your writing time and energy?
Leave a comment about the challenges you face when writing, or any advice you might have for new Dad Erik, for a chance to win a signed copy of his fantastic book Thank You for Flying Air Zoe! (Contest ends Tuesday 13th at 11.59pm PST)
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