Banishing perfectionism as a new mom-writer

Facebook, CNN, People, Pinterest, YouTube, Gmail, Gmail, and Gmail just one more time.  These are the windows that flutter open and closed on my web browser.  When I have a free moment these days, my brain wants to check out.  You see, I am a new mom. I have managed to keep a baby alive for almost 10 weeks.  This baby has good days and fussy days.

On the fussy days, sometimes he only catches winks of sleep… 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there.  Those are the days I stare at the clock, waiting for my husband to come home to do the handoff.  But then there days like today when he is sleeping for a luxurious *almost* 3 hour nap (everyone keep your fingers crossed). And I’m on Pinterest.

I have time right now, and, mind you, I do know that it is perfectly okay to check the latest recipes and design ideas.  I love imagining new kitchen spaces, and I dream of redoing our bathroom. Pinterest helps me greatly in these moments.

But the truth is, I’m a bit scared to dip my toe back into writing and being creative. My creativity seems aimless. Like I am drifting in a lake without a direction because I am not sure where to go.  I would rather whip up a batch of cookies – and again, I know that is fine.  I’m trying to give myself as much grace as I can in this new season too.  God knows that we all need a little more grace in our lives as recovering perfectionists.

I know I won’t be a perfect mom, but something in me thinks that I should be using my time more productively, more perfectly. A judging voice tells me to Power through the next book! Get to work!  Luckily, I then hear my friends’, Christin’s and Karen’s, voices, reminding me they felt like their brains disappeared the first year of their babies’ lives. This is truly what I need to hear – that my life has shifted; my brain has changed.  It’s wired to hear little sighs and gets excited by tiny coos and smiles.  I am one of those parents with 200 new pictures on my phone, and I could tell you more about poop than I care to know. That is my new direction right now.

But the other truth is, I’m missing my work. I love that my brain has changed, and I don’t long to do things like before – that’s not the point.  The point is, in addition to keeping my baby alive, I need to write to feel alive too. And right now, I just need to try.  It doesn’t need to be perfect or take up hours of my day.  And while I get more excited about baby giggles than word counts these days, I am thriving off of glimmers of ideas and chicken scratch notes as well as seeing my baby grow.

Take last night for example.

“Don’t lose that,” my husband whispered as I scribbled down bullet-pointed words last night on magazine subscription tear out.  It was 11:00pm. The baby was sleeping soundly, and there it was: a flash, a bolt of creativity. Write this down, a voice says, and I follow this fictitious coach’s instruction because it is gently teaching me to reclaim my creativity in new ways.  The voice is showing me how not to be scared; I just need to listen.

That voice tells me it’s not about scheduling out every nap time right now for research or free writing. It’s not even about finding a proper pad of paper. It’s about savoring the sparks of creativity that come to me at (sometimes) inopportune moments when I want to be sleeping. I don’t have to bust out 1,000 words these days. In these instances, I am learning to banish another form of perfectionism and discover my new brain. A brain that allows old passions to live alongside new treasures with a reinvented productivity spectrum.

These late night musings are a way that is happening. The scraps of paper around the house feel like fireflies captured in a jar to keep for later. If I don’t collect them now, the jar will only collect dust. That scares me more.  So I write sentences now instead of paragraphs.

And yes, I was on Pinterest today, but here I am, writing 700 words.  It feels good. It’s not perfect–  it’s not a chapter, or a book. But it is the start of discovering a new way of being in the world. I may not know where I am going yet, but it feels good to start slowly paddling. Which begs the question, what old passions and new treasures are you savoring today?

(This post was inspired by my friend Lauren who sent me this article-click here)

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