We’re on Day 13 of summer vacation. Weekdays, that is. With weekends, it’s Day, uh, 19? I’ve never been great with math.
I made a conscious decision (completely different from all those unconscious decisions I make, like eating half a key lime pie in my sleep) to spend one month being on vacation with my kids. I decided to put away work and focus completely on summer.
I haven’t so much as jotted down an idea. I even stopped reading in-depth news, blogs, and whatnot. My plan was to plow through the 10-book-high stack of novels on my bedside table, leaving all other reading for later this summer.
Thirteen days in, and I cracked. I didn’t know it, but I was starving myself. Figuratively starving, that is (See: key lime pie that I did not really eat in my sleep; no, I really ate it while wide awake and fully conscious of my terrible[ly delicious] decision).
Mild depression began settling in, making itself cozy not in the corners of my mind, but in the display window of my soul. What is wrong with me? It’s summertime and I’m having a blast. Aren’t I? It’s all sunshine (oh, so much freaking sunshine here), swimming (the only way to survive the sunshine), and key lime pies. Why do I feel like screaming?
My creativity is starving, that’s why. If, that is, something can be starving while also stuffed.
My brain is hosting some overcrowded pool parties of its own, ideas swimming around but never getting out of the pool. The ideas, much like children left to their own devices, are becoming waterlogged and pruny. Now I understand: you must let the ideas out of the pool, even if you haven’t a clue how to entertain them for the rest of the summer.
So there I was, brimming with ideas that I refused to feed or engage. Just as I caved this morning and handed out one more oh-my-gosh-stop-begging-for-snacks graham cracker to the clamoring kids, I caved and started putting thoughts on paper again. I gorged on news and blog reading. I picked up the writing book at the bottom of the stack.
Admittedly, it’s easier, schedule-wise, to say forget it to work over the summer. I am the childcare in this joint. I am also the chauffeur, chef, and entertainment. All jobs for which I willingly – and joyfully – signed up. When my kids look back, I do not want their clearest summer memories to be of me bent over the keyboard while they played video games. They deserve summer while they can have it. Soon enough they’ll be working or in school or both, because mama’s not putting up with freeloaders forever.
That means my most creative effort this summer may be finding time to free ideas from the big pool of death in my mind. I can’t, as I imagined doing, let them swim around until school starts again. I also cannot casually splash around with my thoughts, as I planned to do after this month-long sabbatical was up. I have to be all in, wet hair and everything.
Writers who don’t write aren’t writers. They’re not creatives. No, they’re simultaneously hungry, overstuffed people. And hungry, overstuffed people can’t be decent writers or decent summertime moms.
:: What’s your summertime schedule? (Inspire me!)