So I’ve had an incredibly busy couple of weeks. When I decided to get a puppy I knew it would be hard work. That’s why I took off three weeks to help settle Mika into our household. But that first week? It was harder than I could have imagined. Not because Mika is a naughty puppy – she’s not. But puppies are hard work and my small foray into parenthood has taught me a lot about myself.
Firstly, that I don’t function well on lack of sleep. We discovered this when, after having been on night duty with Mika (taking her out to the bathroom several times each night) I would burst into tears over the smallest misstep from our little puppy.
Secondly, I really, really need to work on my patience. Many days feel like one small step forward, two giant steps backwards. But getting a new puppy is all about learning to communicate with each other. Mika so, so wants to learn. She wants to please. But it’s hard to learn when you don’t know the language. It’s Michael and my responsibility to talk to her in a way she understands – through positive reinforcement. And it doesn’t happen quickly – it’s about consistency, about sending the same message again and again until she understands. In two weeks we’ve made fantastic progress, but that progress wasn’t apparent straight away.
Lastly, ego. I wrote on this blog that I wanted to attempt to finish my revision by the end of my leave (this next week is my last week). Discovering how much work Mika would be, how hard it was to focus when I had this darling little creature entirely dependent on me, who needed to be taken out to go bathroom every hour, I realized that maybe my goal was unrealistic. And that was really hard to swallow. What can I say, I’ve spent almost 23 years with only my own needs and goals (and my husband’s, but he’s largely self-sufficient :P) to focus on. It was hard to let go of that.
So these two weeks have been an adjustment, but there have been a few things that have really helped. There’s the bond that Mika has developed with Michael and I. I can’t say how beautiful it is to have this little puppy be so excited to see you every morning and after every nap. More than anything she just wants to be with us. Then there’s her growing confidence. At first we couldn’t leave the house for fear that she would freak out or do something destructive. Now, with a few favorite chew toys, she hardly even notices we are gone. Michael has also graciously taken over night-duty. He doesn’t mind the broken sleep – it doesn’t effect him even half as much – and I’m starting to feel rested again.
Another huge help was this blog post by Maggie Stiefvater on parenting. How it’s important to keep your own sense of identity, to keep working on your goals. How it IS possible to achieve your goals even with an adorable little timesuck*. With that inspiration I’ve been stealing moments, small and large, to write. And somehow I’m back on track. All I need to do is stick to my original 4000 words a day goal to finish this revision by the end of my leave.
Is it worth is? Yes. Yes, yes, and again, yes. I may have answered differently a week ago, but today I answer yes. When Michael, Mika and I are together life feels complete. Michael and I have always felt that we have so much love to give, and now we have something to bestow it on. Yes.
Oh, and I finally found my desk! I knew exactly what I wanted and amazingly I found it in the first store I went into. It’s actually a dining table, but that’s what I wanted – I wanted to be able to swivel across and work by hand if I needed to, without drawers in the way. I wanted a big surface that I could spread out on. And how well does it go with my banker’s lamp? Look at those sexy legs 🙂
So tell me, how do you balance your creative goals with your other responsibilities?
*I don’t want to imply looking after a puppy is anywhere near as hard as parenting a child. If anything, this short period with Mika has increased my respect for parents tenfold, and made me think much harder about how children might factor into my life in the future. Moms – you’re all superheroes.