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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« No more whining in 2006! | Main | Here's something old and dusty. Merry Christmas! »

And here's my last whiny post of 2005.

Oh, but I am feeling low.

I could blame the chocolates my mom bought my husband--my delightfully Jewish husband who is all, “I do not understand you Christians and your strange Christ-birthday; who is this ‘Christ’?” and then insists that my family only give him presents that he can consume. So we get these damn chocolate confections that are incredibly delicious; one of them makes you feel that you require twelve more, and then the second one provides you with the sensation of needing to tear your skin from your face and set your pants on fire. I ate three.

Also, Henry is sick. We put him in preschool and he fought off every virus that came his way, but one weekend with my family was all it took to bring him down. The night before last he had the CROUP, and we immediately rushed him into the steamy bathroom and sat there until the ceiling melted. He continued to whuuup and hurrk far long than he ever had before, but then as we discussed our imminent trip to the ER, he decided hospitals were not his thing, and the episode passed. But now he’s all drippy and crusty and feverish, and when I’m not worried about him I’m worried about how I’m going to keep from killing him.

He is moany and whiny and needy and I can understand why, but he’s not needy in a way I understand. Lying on the couch requesting blankets and tea—this I can understand. Running around and throwing toys while wearing nothing but socks and screaming at me to take off his socks—this is his version of being sick, and it makes no sense to me. No he does NOT want soup, take that blanket OFF him, he LIKES shivering, and don’t THINK about giving him Motrin, on second thought the Motrin tastes like candy so give him EXTRA, what do you MEAN extra is bad for him? THE NAKED BOY WANTS EXTRA MOTRIN.

When he isn’t demanding that I overdose him, he wants me to play, except what he really wants is not for me to play—he wants me to sit next to him and watch him as he plays. This way lies madness, as we know, but I am not given much of a choice in the matter. If I try to pick up an action figure and join him in playtime, I am berated. If I attempt to rise and get a glass of water, or maybe use the bathroom, there is much screaming and pleading for my company. If I sit right next to him and read a book, the book is torn from my hands. My attention is demanded constantly, but it’s only to acknowledge whatever it is he is doing. “Look, Mommy!” he announces, holding up Batman. “I am holding Batman!” Pause. “Look! Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!” and so on, until I respond, “Yes, that’s Batman, all right.”

Repeat this with every one of his two hundred figures.

I am bored out of my mind. Literally, I have no mind.

So maybe this is not the best day to take stock of my life. But whoops, too late.

Waaaay back, I got an MFA in creative writing and I told myself I would have a novel published before I had a child. Ha, ha! No really, I did! I know! Then when I was pregnant I downscaled my ambitions to, “Hmm, I should really get a short story published before I give birth.” I didn’t make that goal either, but I did eventually get two stories published. And a poem. Which, okay, more than zero! Not so bad! But really if I consider myself a writer, I should have more than two stories published in my lifetime. Two stories (and a poem) would make a crappy collection.

So now I’m working on a book. Which is nice, to have an idea, to be working on something. To finally, after years of struggling with rock-bottom expectations and crippling self-doubt and blar de blar twelve years of therapy blar, be doing what I’ve always want ed to do. Except! I have no time! Ever! Because there’s this child! Whom I think a great deal of, who’s really a great kid, but who demands every second of my time! And I may be just a wee bit resentful about that!

I’ve been getting up at six in the morning to write. I am not a morning person. But Henry isn’t either, and as he gets up at 8 at the earliest, it seemed the perfect time to get some things done. But by the time I get a cup of tea, turn on the lights, find my robe, use the bathroom, stare at my freaky morning hair in the mirror, turn on the computer, and try not to throw up as I see what I wrote the day before—by the time I’m ready to write it’s 6:30. So the most I can do is an hour and a half of writing. And it’s not enough. I need that much time just to remember why I’m sitting there, what brought me to that place and what it was I wanted to say, again.

Today I made the mistake of reading an interview between Paul Auster and Jonathan Lethem, and they were talking about the five or six hours each day they devote to their writing, how satisfying it was to have SO MUCH time to write! Devoting those hours to their Art infuses the rest of the day with a “kind of grace,” they agreed. And I thought, if I see you fuckers on the street—and there’s a good chance I will; they’re both around here somewhere, I’ve seen them before—I am going to kick you in the shins. Six hours! Hey, Jonathan: once we were at the same party and you were dancing and you danced like a moron and I laughed. And then you went home and wrote a masterpiece. Wait, that didn't make me feel better. Asshole.

I don’t know how anyone who is a mother is also a writer. I suppose you have to achieve a certain level of success so that you can hire a nanny without killing yourself from the financial burden or from the guilt or choosing your nonexistent career over your child. But if I don’t have the time, then I can’t write the book, so I can’t get the money, which I need to, um, have the time. I go around and around like this, and then I want to throw up. Or maybe that's the chocolates.

I am sorry to end the year like this, so I will say Happy New Year, and then I will go to bed, and maybe tomorrow, the last day of 2005, will suck a tiny bit less.

Reader Comments (107)

Debl: Ah, I get it, thanks! Michael is saying that leaving your kids alone more probably won't harm them (I suspect he's right) and you're saying that getting them to leave you alone is almost impossible. (I'm sure your right too.) Fair enough.

God, I love it when these here comment thingy's provide some actual insight. Parenthood is looming in my life and despite no one being pregnant yet it's scaring the c**P outta me. Forwarnings like this might not make it easier but it at least there'll be less surprises.
January 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCoelecanth
"if you write not long but practically every day you do get a great deal written."

Gertrude Stein
January 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranja
Weird that I'm over on the other side of the country and Henry caught the croup my daughter had the day before Christmas.

It is/was the season of GIVING...Next time we'll give something that is not chocolate and not croup.
January 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJP
I am so glad I found this post and these comments, even if I am a dollar late, so to speak.

I feel this way so often. Today was especially so. I have so many things I want to do; I love my kids; I just never realized how 24-7 they are. My god. I have almost no time at all. Let alone for all the housework/laundry/keep them feed business.

Thanks for the post. And to all these commenters, so many of whom feel the same.

Now I know why my Mom says there were ten years of her life that she just, flat, does not remember.
January 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
Alice, you rock, even when you have a naked, needy toddler shoving Batman figures in your face. I've always been an unpublished writer, even though I haven't written anything of unpublished substance since before my girls (twins) were born. As I type this comment, I have Emma attacking me with a stuffed dalmatian, and Penny whining because she can't find her Percy engine. So I am right there with you, on the frustration front.

(Michael, a single man is not the best person to tell a mother how to be a parent. Go ahead, quote all the articles you want, point us to all the urls in the world. All the research in the world cannot even remotely prepare one for the reality of parenthood.)

Alice again -- honestly, as one night owl to another, I would write at night. Chances are, that's when your creativity is at its best, anyway. Don't despair. Write at night and let Henry be your alarm clock. Totally.
January 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWendy
Ok, so I feel your pain too. I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old (girls) who admittedly attend daycare while I work. I am a partner in a design firm, but a wannabe writer. I also spent the last week blowing my nose (yea Levaquin!) Regarding the daycare - I used to work from home (until 6 months ago) so my kids didn't go to school till 1 1/2 - 2 yrs old. (When the oldest was just bored here and the youngest was destroying the place). They started at a half day, then till 3:30, now they go till 6 (4 days). I get major quality time with them in the morning, and try not to do anything (work or write) until after they go to bed. (Here the tranquilizer darts do come in handy.) Like you, I had the "publish a novel before____" resolution when I graduated college. I changed the blank each year as I missed it, until I finally published a small poem several years ago. I will gladly donate it to your collection! Here's what is helping me now. I joined a writer's group - something I never thought I would do cause I hate those kind of critique people anyway. But it really is great, the people are excellent, and if nothing else I have to write three or four pages a month. (Please don't do the math on how long my novel will take at this rate.) Also, I find not sleeping much gives you plenty of time to write.

I think that you do need to leave for short periods of time (or Henry does) as it is extremely difficult to focus when you are distracted or guilty. I live in Jersey and Harlan Coben allegedly does all his writing in the coffee shop in town - and he's sort of a stay-at-home dad for like 5 kids.

I made a new year's resolution to write more and exercise early three times a week. I am guessing now that the writing thing's got a much better shot.
January 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKathy
Having no kids, I don't know exactly what it's like. I have a demanding dog and a husband who is sometimes like a child, so I do know what it's like to feel that after looking after them, there's not much left over for me. You just do the best that you can, right? The fact that you are undertaking your novel at all fills me with hope that one day I can have a kid and a life at the same time. I'm rooting for you.

January 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermags

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