I’m going to write my own “Summertime Sadness” song and it’s about a parent who longs for the school year back, for a few hours to herself again.
It isn’t natural to parent alone.
It is a two-person job, maybe three, maybe eight.
I don’t parent alone, actually, because Steve parents them half of the time. But when I parent, I’m alone and when he parents, he’s alone and my god, we have it so hard, I don’t know how we do it.
Sometimes bedtime takes two hours.
Keeping the house clean, limiting the iPad, making sure they get enough exercise and fruits and vegetables and water and bathe themselves and brush their teeth and change their underwear and and read them all the stories and get fresh air and find Holden’s blankies and Brandon’s woobie and get the light dimmed just so is all-consuming.
I imagine writing in peace. I look forward to when they fall asleep, when I can sit in the calm with my apple cider and type but it takes so long that by the time they are conked out, usually so am I.
I have four half-finished stories, a dozen essays to write, and lord knows how many poems to write and to refine. I have submissions to get to, literary magazines to peruse. I have grants to apply for, lectures to write, workshops to research. I have freelancing gigs to take and favors to give and introductions to make. Perhaps people think the writing life is glamorous, people who don’t know it’s really cheerios ground into the carpet and unanswered emails.
Sometimes I beat myself up over all I haven’t done but here I am now, at 10:08 p.m., looking at all I have done despite it all and god damn it, I’ve done good, even with this summertime sadness. This writing life is all-consuming and so is this parenting life and doing them both, here by myself is nothing less than madness, and maybe that’s the song I meant to write.