I’m writing in my living room, my feet propped up on a broken ottoman-turned-toybox while I listen to my three-year-old count from 1 to 26 (oddly skipping 13 every time). The sounds of my six-year old’s newest Pandora station (Fall Out Boy – he has good taste) float down the hallway as he and his older sister flop around, limbs flailing in abandonment as they dance to the music. I’m just glad they’re not fighting, thankful for the few moments of peace. I know it won’t last. Someone will dance too hard to the left and bump into something or someone and World War III will break out. I am an only child so the constant sibling-bickering is something that I don’t understand – and probably never will.
My actual office sits abandoned, overflowing with boxes and bags of stuff from an attempt at PURGING ALL THE THINGS! that went terribly wrong. My house is a cluttered mess. Books are everywhere – we are a house of readers. Piles on the art table (mine) and bins overflowing with If You Give A Mouse A Cupcake, Curious George, and The Lightning Thief under the TV (theirs) and strewn in heaps on every conceivable surface, no matter how precariously perched. An occasional stack teeters too far to the left and crashes to the floor in a spattering of color and fluttering pages.
This is my life. This chaos, this constant barrage of noise and stuff and whining and things that need to be done RIGHT NOW! Bills to pay, working multiple jobs to pay them, rushing from one activity to the next, barely staying on track. Sticky fingers, piles of laundry, slobbery kisses punctuated by squeezy hugs and I love yous whispered at an ear-splitting volume by a toddler that doesn’t understand the ins and outs of whispering.
I catch moments in the whirlwind to write, to edit, to mold a messy first draft into something that is fit for eyes that aren’t mine. My time is limited, a precious resource planned with precision, every minute accounted for. The writing keeps me grounded. It keeps me whole and wipes away the heaviness that settles on my shoulders as the bills pile up and another appliance breaks.
I love my life. Every precious second. Every late-night fight to Go The F*CK To Sleep (it’s a book – I don’t drop f-bombs in front of my kids) so I can write for two hours and play catch-up on emails and bills even though I just worked another ten-hour day amidst an endless six-day work week at two jobs I love. Every flash card of letters or math problems as I help shape young minds. Every book shared and fought over between three kids that all love to read.
Sometimes – usually on the short drive home after a long day as weariness tries to steal itself into my bones – I look around at my life, at the chaos, and I worry that someone might pinch me. That I might wake up and none of this crazy life was mine. That it was all borrowed from daydreams created in the mind of the overworked and unhappy woman I was when I’d decided that writing was I dream I couldn’t afford to live.
My life may be crazy and I may fall into bed every night exhausted but unable to sleep due to the voices in my head overlapping as they shout to be heard (characters and plots, not real voices. I promise). But I love it. It won’t last forever, but for now it’s mine and it’s as fulfilling as it is exhausting.
The impromptu game of soccer using a frisbee pushed around on the floor by my three reasons for living has ended with the call for dinner. As they head to the dining room to eat, I can’t help but smile. The oldest lifts the youngest up to the sink to help her wash her hands. My husband laughs as he pops his head into the living room giving me the look. The one that says put the computer away and eat for Christ sake.
This is my life. My wonderful, crazy, exhausting life. If this is a dream, I want a few more minutes. Hit the snooze.