Yesterday I managed to get my son to sleep for the afternoon. My daughter was spending the day at my parents’ and I had a wonderful moment of solace to drink a cup of coffee and listen to The Damage Report with John Iadarola. Then I got a text message from Richard Thomas:
Adding you to the call in about 10 minutes!
And I was like OH FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!
A Little Backstory
Richard’s a fellow writer and a friend of mine who edited and published Vile Men. He also teaches some great online writing courses. In one of those courses, he teaches my street harassment story, “Cat Calls”. At some point he usually asks if I’m up to doing a Skype Q&A with the course participants.
I quite enjoy these calls. It’s one of the things you look forward to as a writer, is having people ask you questions about your own work and your methods. I find it so freeing to be so blunt. As a writer, it’s hard to talk about being a writer with your everyday friends, so having that small window to “be myself” is really thrilling. Usually, when Richard asks if I’m available, I set aside the time and I make myself presentable and set up my computer in nice a quiet room.
This time, he asked if I was available on Tuesday night and I said I totally was (because I’m on maternity leave and time is all I ever have). My husband would watch the kid and I’d lock myself in a room somewhere and spend an hour feeling like a legit writer.
BUT, by the time Tuesday came around I’d completely forgotten.
Being on maternity leave has turned my brain to mash. I don’t put dates on the calendar. I don’t pay attention to the clock. Most of my free time is spent crocheting with a teething baby on my lap while I watch that new Mighty Pups special of Paw Patrol on Netflix because it’s the only thing that keeps my 4 year-old daughter occupied when I’m dealing with a 5 month-old baby that won’t let me put him down. Most mornings I typically wake up when my daughter wakes me up and then I make breakfast and suddenly it’s like 6PM. I have one cup of coffee (a double Americano) in the morning and usually have another while making dinner.
So yeah, I forgot all about the Skype call.
Keep Calm and Skype On
My husband ended up working late so there was no one to look after my son, who was just waking up from his nap.
I scrambled to to get my computer set up, fretting over the fact that I had to do the chat in full Recluse-Mode: no makeup, hair in a pony, body swimming in an over-sized T-shirt. (My vanity usually doesn’t allow me to leave the house dressed any lower than a 7, so accepting that strangers were gonna be seeing me in my reclusive state felt pretty freeing, honesty.)
FUN FACT: When I don’t wear makeup, people always get shocked when they notice that I have freckles.
I ended up taking the call on my phone, which I had to prop up on a stack of very unstable V.C. Andrews paperbacks to avoid my face from getting that unflattering “middle-aged man taking a selfie” angle.
My son started crying immediately after the call started, so I had to bounce him on my lap the entire time I was answering questions about my writing process and my characters and my metaphors and inspirations. It was the first time my “mom life” and my “writer life” had ever collided in such full force.
The phone slipped off the stack of books a couple times. My husband tried calling me a couple times during the Skype chat (BECAUSE HE ALWAYS CALLS AT THE WORST TIMES) but I persevered. I’ve had worse “live chat” experiences in my life.
The best you can do is apologize and move on.
I apologized for the interrupting calls from the husband. I apologized for the baby crying. I did not, however, apologize for my appearance, because if one has such a luxury as maternal leave, one should take full advantage of the benefits.
Obviously, I need to write more shit on my calendar. I’ve tried keeping planners and bullet journals and all that shit, but the truth is that I’m just not a Type-A person. I hate carrying the extra weight of a planner in my purse. BUT, I do remember things when it’s on the family calendar, which is located in the hallway right in front of the bathroom.
So next time, when I take my morning dump with the door wide open (because kids) ALL I’ll ever take notice of is the calendar and this will NEVER happen again.