So, for the past few weeks I’ve really been in a writing mode. I’m loving this. And pretty surprised by it, frankly. I’ve been told by multiple people that the baby would mean the end of…well, the pursuit of every personal accomplishment I ever hoped to achieve. Instead, weirdly, I think I’ve become more productive because I have less time to totally immerse myself in writing. So I appreciate it and take advantage of it more readily.
Lavender, in true Saudi style, is a night owl. She’s a good sleeper once she finally goes to bed, but she doesn’t feel the need to go to bed until around one or two in the morning, while her mom and dad are usually ready for bed around eleven. But it’s fine with me, honestly. I don’t have any place to be in the morning, and neither does she. Mr. Mostafa usually falls asleep a bit before we do, but that’s fine with us; he’s got to wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning and go be an accountant.
I generally wake up at a reasonable hour too, though. Once Lavender goes to sleep, she’s usually out for a good ten hours, aside from the one or two times she wakes up to eat. I get up three hours or so before she does. I make a cup of tea with milk, and then I settle in to write, read, outline, edit, email…basically, get work done.
These are my focus hours. I’d be lying if I said I never click over to check Facebook or Twitter, but I don’t spend more than a few seconds there at a time. By the time Lavender wakes up, I feel like I’ve set a productive tone for the day. And that feels really good, especially considering that that feeling was quite the rarity during the last academic year.
Once Lavender wakes up, we hang out together while I get things done around the house. She is a snugglebug who prefers to be held most of the time, especially when she’s awake, so she tends to hang out in the Moby Wrap, and we dance a lot while we do housework. Sometimes she’s content to lay on her tummy on the floor, or in her bouncer, and I occasionally get some work done then. When she goes back to sleep (because let’s face it, she’s an infant; she naps a lot), I park behind my laptop again and get back to work in those moments when I need to grab that free time and make something out of it.
I have so many things to do…not only today, right now, right this second, but also so many things I want to do with my life in the long term. If I let myself sit and think about all the things I need and/or want to get done, it feels like my brain will turn inside out, so I just don’t do that. I have an actual job that gets a lot of my work time, because hey, I’ve got student loans to repay (doesn’t practically everyone? Or at least, every American with a college degree? And if you don’t, shut up, because I hate you), and I don’t want my husband touching those–my education is my own accomplishment, one that I was in very deep with long before I met him. (That’s just my personal preference; I know some couples put everything together financially when they marry, and I think that’s awesome. And for the most part, we do. But my student loans are something I feel strongly about taking care of on my own, even though I know that when it comes down to it, the intertwining of our financial lives in every other way means that he really is contributing to those repayments indirectly. But, perhaps selfishly, I want those payments to come from my own bank account. That’s just me.)
But I’ve also been working on several other things. This blog, of course. I’ve been trying to keep a post a week, and eventually I would like to work my way up from that. I have lots of plans for the blog, man. And Mr. Mostafa has been bugging me to write a book. Because he has wildly optimistic faith in my ability to write something worth reading…as a good spouse should.
Lately I’ve also been kind of getting back into novels, since my best friend Annie has written one and now has her agent shopping it to publishers. Since I started grad school, I kind of moved away from novels, despite being obsessed with them in high school and college. I felt like novels didn’t really teach me anything, and I wanted to be learning all the time. I’m now aware of how pretentious that theory is (I mean, I couldn’t look Harper Lee in the eye and say that, and quite frankly, if you couldn’t look Harper Lee in the eye to espouse a particular philosophical tenet, you might as well just let it go, friend), and since I read Annie’s novel and enjoyed it so much, I’m letting myself ease back into reading novels now. I kind of even want to try to write one, and I’ve been flirting with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo. Probably won’t happen this year, but who knows.
However, the risk with reading (or writing) novels is that you sometimes find yourself reading (or writing) really, really bad ones. With nonfiction, you can still get something from the piece, even if the writing is atrocious. With bad novels, all you can really do is either slog through it just to say you didn’t abandon a book, or leave it behind in a hotel room nightstand drawer next to a Gideon Bible and do your best to pretend it never happened…or both, like I did with The Carrie Diaries. Not sorry at all, Candace Bushnell. That book was terrible. But I feel like I do owe the Gideons an apology.
Anyway, although I’m attempting to spin a lot of different plates in pursuit of a lot of different silly little dreams, for now I’m shifting the largest part of my focus to where it really should be, on my academic work. I wrote last year about my goal of finishing my Ph.D. before I turned 30…that was obviously a bust, but I’m not too broken up about it, because when I laid out that scenario, I didn’t figure in time spent (some might say wasted) in coma-like first trimester sleep. Basically, I didn’t figure a Lavender into my plans–at least, not quite so soon. And now I have a Lavender, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything, not even a Ph.D. before the age of 30. So it’s okay.
Still, I’m determined to finish my Ph.D. this year. Even though I have so many passions competing for my time, education is one of the major ones. There are days that I miss being in a classroom so much it hurts. And what’s even more torturous is that if I wanted to take a teaching job, there are always a whole lot of jobs available in Riyadh. But then I find myself feeling overwhelmingly grateful that whenever Lavender wakes up from a nap, I can pick her up and soothe her, no matter what time of day it is. I am thankful for options.
While my babies are babies, I’ll be staying involved in the education field mostly from behind my laptop screen–or at least, in ways other than holding a full-time perch at the front of my own classroom. I’m fine with that. My amazing mom, who has worked outside the home all her adult life, always told me that if I had the option, I should stay home with my babies, at least until they start school, because otherwise I will feel like I am missing out on their lives. That’s how she felt when my brother and I were little, although we certainly never felt like she missed anything. And I’m sure that doesn’t hold true for all women, and that’s wonderful. Some of the most amazing moms I know (who really have this motherhood stuff figured out much better than me) are women who work outside the home. But I’m feeling how much I take after my mom so far. I want to work, but thinking about putting Lavender in daycare right now makes me feel all clammy. I think I could win an Oscar at this point in my life, because all I have to do to make myself cry is think about leaving her at her first day of school. Five years from now (okay, maybe four). Gah.
I am totally rambling in this post now, and I feel like I’ve wandered into justifying my life choices to the internet. But I think it says a lot that I feel like I need to do that. I’m sure that there are many who would say that I’m “wasting” my education. But I don’t see it that way at all. I’m terribly grateful that I have options, and if it weren’t for my education, I wouldn’t have them. If it weren’t for my education, I wouldn’t have the option of staying involved with and making a contribution to a field I am passionate about while staying at home with a baby.
I shall say it loud: I’m a WAHM and I’m proud.
(In case you don’t frequent mommyblogs, that’s an acronym for “work-at-home mom.”)
Anyway, does all of this make me lame? I feel like it does, but that may have a lot to do with the fact that I’m currently obsessed with The Mindy Project and although pretty much the only difference between me and Mindy Lahiri is our foundation shades, I feel like my life has no potential to look like Mindy Lahiri’s unless I have a very cool, very established career that gives my life meaning. Would Mindy Lahiri ever be a WAHM? But then again, in the end, all Mindy Lahiri wants is for her life to look like a romantic comedy…and my husband met me in New York so he could propose to me by reenacting the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
So I guess if you combine our lives, Mindy Lahiri and I have it all. But what a boring show that would be, right?
No, I take it back. That show would be effing brilliant.