This post originally appeared on our old blog, Born to be a Bride.
If you are a writer, you are familiar with the concept of writer’s block. It’s that itch that sets in when you sit down and have to produce something but nothing comes out. It feels at once like you are being choked and pushed onward. Your fear of messing up or missing out only makes it worse. If you are not a writer, you are probably familiar anyway. Because you had to write a paper here or there in college or because you sit down to pen an important note and the words just don’t find their way from your heart to your brain.
If you are a mom, you are likely familiar with the concept of mommy-block. I might have to go put it on a t-shirt. Even if we haven’t talked about it aloud, we have all felt it. It’s that permeating feeling of what-do-I-do-now-ness that sets in at the strangest times. In the beginning when you are trying to figure out how to master (or at least get through) this whole mom-thing, your focus goes mostly to sleep. When will they sleep? For how long will they sleep? Will you have time (and energy) to work while they sleep? Or to wash the dishes in the sink? To throw the ingredients of a slow-cooker meal into said slow-cooker without tripping over your own tired feet on the way to the kitchen?
But you are excused for all of that in the beginning. Because you’ve just had a baby. Your uterus is not quite healed. Your child is 100% reliant on you and no one expects all that much of you. Then you reach this point at which they are not just babies anymore but also people. They have things to say and they need variety in the food that they eat. Whether you’re home with them or out at work, your days are fragmented so that you only get these scraps of “free time” here and there. This morning I almost posted on Facebook seeking suggestions for books to read. Then I actually laughed out loud and snorted coffee up my nose in the process, realizing there’s a reason I haven’t read a book lately. It has nothing to do with a lack of books. (Hi. My husband works for Amazon).
I have not read a book lately because I am a mom. Free time is allocated to laundry, dishes, pet care, online shopping, writing, and the occasional sipping of wine while simultaneously catching up on Ladies of London and scrolling Pinterest for first birthday inspiration. Free time is not a thing. I just don’t have it. I am not complaining — I have a lot. Free time is just not one of the things I have.
So what happens on those rare, weird days when the baby actually takes two two-hour naps? Don’t be jealous. I said “rare” for a reason. On those days (like today) I get Mom-Block. Yep, that’s right. It starts when the baby is placed in her crib without a fuss or a fret. I race to the kitchen and load up the dishwasher, peel some potatoes and start a vat of baby food. I clean out the litter box, take a shower, write an article. One hour has passed and she is still asleep. Um. What now? The Mom-Block sets in.
I could organize our summer clothes that are still sitting in a heap atop my dresser. Separate the keeps from the donates and hang up all the fall and winter items. I could get ahead on my work, turn in tomorrow’s project today, and free up some extra time for us to play this afternoon. I could blow out my hair, straighten it even. Put some makeup on aside from the base layer of foundation that is required for me to leave my home without looking like an extra from The Walking Dead.
But there’s no telling how long I have. Will it be ten minutes or twenty? Will I score an entire hour? An hour could be useful for scrapbooking or even some mat Pilates. Dust off those workout DVDs and ruin the shower I managed to squeeze in this morning. But, no. I have Mom-Block.
The possibilities contained in this random spot of extra “free time” are astonishing. There are too many from which to choose. I pace the apartment, straighten a framed photo on the wall. I pick up a scrap of toilet paper from the floor and send a text to a friend. Scroll Instagram for a minute before hurling my phone across the room. No! No Internet! Read a book, damnit.
But once I finally cave, surpass the Mom-Block and decide to fill this unknown expanse of free time that lays out before me like an uncertain road, I hear it. Little grumbles erupt over the airwaves, the unmoved lump on the video monitor’s display is now writhing and a pacifier is hurled across a room. On my way in to fetch the princess, I might look back upon the 45 extra minutes I got today and think, “You could have written a chapter or read three in that time!”
Instead, I relished in my Mom-Block, accomplished nothing. But there’s always next time. We’ll see how I do then. In any case, I’ve got to go now. She is up.