First Draft Father: Life Speeds Up to a Crawl

It finally happened when I looked down at Ethan one day a few weeks ago. He hadn’t disappeared. He’d just moved. A little. His frustrated cries had given way to contentment when he finally seized the toy he’d been struggling to grasp.

Alas, his flailing and flopping had evolved into a tentative crawl. In the days that followed, he wiggled and squirmed across the floor. He grunted and panted. Inch by inch, he learned to crawl.

At this point, Ethan can wiggle his way just about anywhere in the house. His obsession with snacking on my Birkenstock sandals has flowered into a passion for the all-you-can-gnaw shoe rack buffet. As with the patrons of any all-you-can-eat establishment, he doesn’t appreciate being told to go somewhere else.

While Ethan has been speeding up his crawl, my writing projects really picked up as well. I had a book due on April 15th and then a large, urgent freelance project came in the day after that. The following week another large, urgent project arrived. On May 1st I had another book due.

The only things that saved me were my co-authors for each project and Ethan’s crawling.

I expected that a crawling baby would spell instant doom to my productivity around tight deadlines like this. He used to sit or lay on his blanket and play quietly for 20 minutes before needing a change of scenery. Oftentimes play time ended because he’d grown frustrated and sad.

To my surprise, crawling has actually kept Ethan occupied much longer since he can easily access all of his toys, visit the bunny cage, and wiggle his way under the dining room table. I have to be aware of his location if I’m working, but for now he’s quite happy with his new-found freedom.

I worry that sometimes I’m working too much while he’s playing. I’ve especially had that sense with these two book deadlines. As I look at my coming weeks, I can see a little breathing room in my schedule, and it’s wonderful to think I can spend more time on the floor with Ethan as he discovers the world around him.

I always knew that working part time while staying home with a baby would bring up compromises. It’s not easy some days. There’s a trade off I’ve made: I can make just enough to help us get by so I can be around all day—even if I’m not always playing with him.

Maybe this has been good for me and for Ethan. And when I say “good for me,” I mean for a parent with my kinds of issues. I’m the type who would always hover over him, dropping toys in his lap or pushing toys closer to him. I’d be tempted to make life easier for him.

As I’ve struggled to figure out a way to supplement our income with my writing work, Ethan has had the freedom he needs to struggle on the floor with crawling. That space is just what he needed. It’s a good thing I had a few book deadlines to keep myself out of his way.

2 thoughts on “First Draft Father: Life Speeds Up to a Crawl

  1. Jennifer Clark Tinker

    The other day my 9 yo was all dressed and ready to go to homeschool co-op, but it wasn’t time to leave yet. I wouldn’t let him play video games while I got ready and finalized my class prep.

    It wasn’t until I stopped suggesting alternatives that he figured out how to use the time. He decided to make small gifts for some of his buddies in the homeschool co-op.

    Not only did he figure out a way to entertain himself, but he also made it into an opportunity to bless his friends. I’m glad I got out of the way of that one!

  2. Melinda Viergever Inman

    I’m a better mother when I’m writing. I’m happier, and I’m not hovering. I also am the type who feels all the pain and wants to make it easier. You can even hover when they’re all adults. It sure does annoy them. :)

    Having you around (even if you’re not staring at him for every waking moment) and seeing you passionately pursuing your creativity are gifts that will bless Ethan for all his life.

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