When One Thing and When the Other
Don’t ask me for advice. I don’t have any. But if you have some, I’ll listen, believe me. ‘Cause when home from work today, one of the busiest tasting room sets I’ve worked in months, I wasn’t ready for the domestic frenzy— for the father part of writerfather. I was here, and I knew my role. Now, hours later, 10:44, I write with Emma on my lap. Not sure what expression she makes. I type with one hand and can’t look down at the petit beat. Things have calmed over the past few hours. I know now more starkly that time can’t be controlled for writerfathers. At first, when through the door, setting down my work bag in the entryway, my mood instantly nosedived, even as my daughter smiled at me with her days-from-three-months-old grin and laugh attempts, and Jackie with his newest presentations of what he’s learned and what he can say, how he can test me and what he is compared to what he was this morning. This wasn’t work stressing me, the day I just worked. It was the sudden and violent shift in scene, into high-speed parenting, and that I wished nothing more that I had quiet, time to write, time to sip a glass of this Chenin Blanc made by my friend Britt and could just finish an article. But that’s romance, now. I’m a father. Two babies. One not so much a baby in fact he many times controls the momentum of the house and a situation and he knows that, and I’m working on that angularity and I knew when I landed in the Autumn Walk Studio’s walls there needed to be an embrace of character; father, not writerfather. The babies will always pull the toboggan. Steer it as well. I’m along for quite a wild ride, this ride, the one I now can only write about and learn from. When it’s quiet, this house and all its arranged constituents, I can work. Only now, 11:21PM, does a writer have a still stage. Today pouring wine I thought of my kids and how they would function in our own winery, a family winery; small, meant for interaction and professed understanding of the family-wine lines; our story and why we do what we do with wine, and how we’re nothing like the others in either county. I want them to be part of my work. To be my story.
I must have, still, a bit of an edge from the day and that sped shove into dad mode. I won’t lie, it tested me, getting home and Alice going for a wildly-deserved walk with her friend Christine, leaving me with wackoJacko and sweet-but-situational Emma Cat. I rolled my eyes.. only the Autumn Walk walls know how many times— Hear Emma crying upstairs now, 11:27, Alice trying to feed her, lay her down. This session could be severed and chasm’d at any turn. The writerfather’s contrasted to the single or even married but with no kids, manuscripter. It’s more work for us, today/tonight’s taught me. I leave one work for another, and I don’t mean just being dad, but trying to find time to put my pages to their useful motion is a task to its own; struggle for self, by myself in such struggle. Not stressful, really, but definitively challenging. In such challenge, I’m finding urgency, propulsion, promise and fruitful forward.
It’s challenging, though. Seemingly now more than in past. Finding time to write and write well, but getting upset or frustrated, or trying to resist the natural constraints of parenthood will only provide their own blanket of angst. So today’s taught me to work with the Story, these babies are my story. Don’t fight it. Don’t get yourself into some counterproductive mood. The writerfather has to be an example of composure, composition, togetherness more than other writers. And again, I’m just learning this. When Emma cries, she’s simply being a two (nearly-three) month old, doing her job as my Dad says when he reassures me she’s fine, and that I don’t need to be worried when that little siren flies from her vocal chords. When Jack projects his objections and attitudes, stages one of his new protested arguments as he’s more and more in the habit of doing, just focus on that. Don’t fixate on the inarguable tangibility of not being able to write. You’ll write soon. You’ll have quiet soon. Just because you’re not writing every set second as you used to, that doesn’t make you less a writer. If anything, you’re more a writer than most other manuscript molders you know, especially the ones that don’t have to equalize what you do; with parenting and teaching, then writing, being consistent with half-marathon training (which I haven’t done in days, gone for even a short run, but that’s a whole ‘nother article, note of ‘notherness).
The next morning I again aim to wake early, before the babies rise or even barely stir, but I don’t. I don’t get mad, I don’t curse myself, I don’t wish my life different. I wait till Jack’s calm on the couch watching his cartoons then I collect a few words; expressions and collection, introspections and visions of myself realistically I hope. Parenting, especially if a writer, tells me to look at myself more, inventory my steps forward and back, and deeply consider how my babies see me vs. how they would see me if I wasn’t having this realization. When it’s time to parent, parent. Time to write, write, and write like you never have as that time could more than likely will be abbreviated or somehow minced. Time has to be optimized, and pieces, all writing efforts need purpose and have to be finished. Sometimes I think, “Wow, I have two kids.” I don’t know why I have this entertainment in my head, not sure if it’s for sense or for some evaluation or assessment of self, but I do have this thought more often of late. Now, just having this second coffee, I know I need to hold to this understanding. ‘I’m a writer, a writing father, with not one but two babies, and they need my tranquil attitude, the collected and steady me.’ There. I guess that’s what my advice would be: Collect yourself, don’t rush, just let the story carry you. You’ll write.
Right now, it’s time to be a parent.