On more than one occasion, I have left the house with my pants on backwards. Or inside out. Ditto tops, skirts, and underwear, which for some reason I find most challenging of all. My socks rarely match, and most days I forget to wear my wedding ring. Though I’m sure we’ve all had that recurring dream where you show up for school naked, in my case, it’s not too far out of the realm of possibility. In short, I am—in the most euphemistic of terms—easily distracted. Getting dressed is one of the multitude of activities I must do each day that I find boring, and since I hate, perhaps more than anything else, being bored (well, except being nauseas, because I really hate being nauseas) I tend to run away in my head when dealing with the mundane.
I’ve come to excuse my inability to do the most basic of tasks (get dressed, cook dinner, remember to fold the laundry) as part and parcel of being a writer. In fact, I’ve come to think of it as a necessity. You need to let your brain run wild—give it the room to wander far and wide—and if that means wearing shoes that don’t always match, well so be it. I think it’s fair to say my husband would say I’m making excuses, and maybe I am. Regardless, I’ve learned that without day-dreaming during non-working hours, without gifting myself the freedom to completely disengage from reality and enter my fictional world when I’m going about the day to day, I can’t write when I do sit myself down at my desk.
After having Elili, I noticed that I felt like less of a writer all of a sudden. Just thinking about book three would stress me out, and the thought of actually writing seemed physically impossible. What did I have to say? Looking back to those first few crazy post-natal months, I realize now that what was missing was the freedom to daydream. I was way too busy (and too tired) to let my brain focus on anything else than what felt like the emergency in front of me. A crying baby. A dirty diaper. Figuring out how to keep Elili safe and warm and comfortable and not covered in poo. It was an all hands on deck kind of time, and now that I’m on the other end of it, now that some of that urgency of first time parenthood has subsided, I find I’m back able to indulge in my daydreaming again. Which means I’m finally able to write, too.
Today, when I was giving Elili her breakfast, I noticed that she had suddenly tuned out. Her eyes were glued to the window, and she was watching a tree blow in the breeze. I have no idea what she was thinking about—maybe fairies, maybe milk, maybe figuring out that new fangled thing called crawling—but I have no doubt she was daydreaming. And for a moment, I indulged myself and went away somewhere too. So there we were, mother and daughter, both somewhere else entirely. And normally, I’d feel guilty for running away in my head while I was with Elili—I do worry about missing the small moments, about being too distracted—but today I allowed myself this small treat. Because while Elili was off sticking her fingers in all the outlets in her brain or something equally taboo, I was imagining my little girl maybe growing up to be just a tiny bit like me. A daydreamer. Maybe even a writer. Backward pants and all.