“When it don’t rain, the roof don’t leak; when it rains, I can’t fix it nohow.”Robert A. Heinlein, Methuselah’s ChildrenRead More
The proverbial “they” say that writing a book is like having a baby. Since I’ve had the honor and privilege of doing both in the past year, I think that makes me eminently qualified to evaluate the comparison! Here’s my take on the similarities:
I knew the book when I was “carrying” it better than I knew that little human inside me. The book made sense. I knew what I wanted to happen with it. But now that it’s “happened," I’m still not sure what all will come of it.
When I was pregnant, the baby was a stranger (and honestly, that continued on for at least the first three months of his life). I knew I was supposed to be excited, but I wasn’t sure what I was excited about. Now that he’s here, and I’m getting to know him, I’m totally enamored with him. But I still don’t know what the future holds for all of us, so I feel like I’m still watching and waiting.
Lesson Learned: Many things we long for and work hard for are still kind of uncertain even after we “achieve” them.
Sleep Deprivation Many times when I was working on the book, I couldn’t shut my brain off and would stay up way too late. I also got up early to write before work, and sacrificed sleep for this goal.
When I was pregnant, people told me to stock up on sleep while I could, and I thought, “Right now? When I can’t get comfortable and as soon as I do I have to get up to pee?” But now I see how right they were. Sleep has been really challenging for our family, and I don’t think I knew what sleep deprivation was before we went from a family of two to three.
Lesson Learned: I felt accomplished when I would stay up late to write or have an “aha” moment that resulted from the discipline of early morning writing time. Midnight snuggles are fun. But from now on, I promise to go to bed as soon as I have the opportunity. Brilliant ideas, charming babies, or not! (at least for the next 5 years)
The Need for Community I could not have written the book without the help of so many people.
The support of my family and friends has been critical to having a baby. From Andy’s coaching while I was pregnant and in labor, to our family swooping in soon after bringing meals and washing clothes, to our neighbors who babysit now.
Lesson Learned: Big things are nearly impossible to do alone.
Anyone want to babysit?
Pain and Distress Emotionally, this book has caused some tension, frustration, tears, and fear. Why am I even doing this? Why is it so hard? I’ve banged my head against many a table, wall, or husband’s chest through this process, but it has not really caused me any physical pain.
Thankfully, I didn’t have a very emotional pregnancy – I was generally even-keeled (and yes, I checked with Andy – he agreed). And the baby himself hasn’t caused a lot of emotional anguish yet (but he’s not a toddler or a teenager yet). But as for physical pain: nothing, nothing… n.o.t.h.i.n.g. compares to childbirth on the pain scale. Nothing.
Lesson Learned: Both have their unique points that trigger emotional and physical pain. But anything worth doing is worth committing emotional energy to. And sometimes important things are really painful, but it doesn’t make them less important.
And while we’re on the subject – no – kidney stones are not the same as childbirth. Just for the record.
Identity Am I an author? It feels funny to say that. And am I an author even if people think the book is bunk?
I know I’m a mother now, but it still doesn’t feel quite real.
And how does being an author or a mother fit in with my other identities? As a Christian, a wife, a friend, an employee, a colleague?
Both the book and the baby are each a dream, something born of you, something you tie much of your expectations, hopes, and identity into.
Lesson Learned: You aren’t supposed to tie all of your identity into either. You are supposed to raise your child to become an adult – separate from you. And when you write a book, it is the gift you are giving to the world.
In Conclusion The proverbial "they" were right - these two big life events have a lot in common. You anticipate them, you invest in them, people tell you what they're like but it's hard to understand until you go through them yourself, you endure anguish for them, you learn to rely on others to help you do them well, you give up other things in life to make time for them.
There's always the uncertainty, there's always the sacrifice, and there's never a perfect time to pursue it, but I hope that whatever your dream is - you go for it!
A few weeks ago I spent a day volunteering with a national non-profit known for doing amazing things for kids and communities. Because of the way the volunteers were organized, I ended up in a group that – other than me – only had employees of the organization.
Just a few minutes earlier, one of these employees had been revving up all the volunteers – getting them to cheer for progress made, getting them to talk to one another and start to build connections, getting people excited about what they were doing for the day. But in the group of just employees, the tone was different. Everyone was quiet. When someone asked a question, the answer was delivered with vague annoyance. There was even a little sighing and eye-rolling.
I had become invisible to the employees, they didn’t realize I was watching their interaction. I was surprised to see the difference between the way they treated the volunteers and the way they treated each other.
Their service events are high-energy and high-pressure, so it’s understandable that they can’t keep that up all the time; and I only spent a few hours with them, so I’m not saying their behavior was representative of the entire organization. But it really got me thinking about how we treat the people closest to us.
I know sometimes I have spent so much energy being friendly with clients that I’m short-tempered with my teammates. Or I’m so tired from spending extra hours with colleagues at work, that I have little energy left to be gracious with my family.
I’m trying to figure out how to structure my day so that I can give my best energy to the people who matter the most to me.
For me, it starts with connecting to my life source. As John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When I detach myself from the vine by not spending time in the Bible, or not investing in prayer, my priorities get out of whack. I get sidetracked on the ‘urgent but unimportant’ and fail to make sure the really important people in my life are given the attention they need and deserve.
How do you ensure the people most important to you receive your best energy?