Ironing. Here, when it comes to my abilities, perfection is never possible.
November is the final countdown for my December book launch. So today I made a list of the interview questions that I must answer before the end of the month, and the guest blogs that must be written as soon as possible, so that I will survive the chaos of December with my abysmally limited secretarial skills.
Now, all this I did in a terrible rush, and trying to be as effective as possible, because there was still the firewood to be carried inside, and phone calls to be made, and chapters to be planned, and the cat to be fed, and dinner to be made. Not to mention that my son still hadn’t done his homework, and I always feel like the perennial Bad Mother when I suddenly realise, at eight o’clock in the evening, that we haven’t given a single thought to schoolwork and it’s almost bedtime. For this reason I had allocated this particular secretarial project called ‘Plan Your Guest Blog And Interview Schedule’ a generous ten minutes. Or thirteen minutes, at maximum. Because yeah, nowadays you’ve got to set a deadline for everything, or else you’re always late. Not that I’m always late, in any case. But that’s another story, for another day.
But all of a sudden the title of a particular guest blog captured my attention. It’s a post I’ll write 11 December for The Sparkle Nest, a lovely blog on parenting and lifestyle, and it’s about how it feels to be a successful author while being a mother too. And yes, though I was in a terrible rush, and supposed to finish everything in a matter of nanoseconds, I stopped to think about the dilemma of being a working mother – of trying to be a Good Writer, and a Good Mother, and a Good Wife, and a Good Friend, and a Good Daughter, and a Good Dog Owner, and an overall Good Person. Even if there are just twenty-four hours in one day, and being good in any given sector takes time, so that if you’re good at, say, mothering and writing, you’re not always good at being a friend or a daughter. Not because you don’t want to, but simply because there is never enough time.
And that’s when it hit me. That perfection is possible, and you can have it all. But only for about five minutes at a time.
Let me give some examples. At times there are moments of absolutely perfect writing, when it seems that some divine spirit is dictating to me what I must write down, and my fingers are dancing on the keyboard, and I am profoundly happy, and feel as if my writing has stepped up to a new level altogether. Afterwards I go to grab some lunch, tired but enthusiastic, and there’s this rare feeling of satisfaction in my heart. Because that morning I’ve worked well. And the novel I’m working on seems really, really good. Full of potential. Then I return to my study, check emails and notice that there are some problems with the cover of another novel. Or some hiccup with marketing. Or my next blog post is late. And that’s when my perfect world crumbles, and work seems to be nothing but problems and to do lists, all of which I’ll never be able to do in time, because life is life, even in fiction writing. And that’s when I check the text I’ve written in the morning, and notice that it’s far from being perfect, and if I want to use it, I must edit it with a heavy hand.
And all right, mothering is just as hopeless. I feel like a Good Mother for about three minutes at a time, usually in the evenings, when I have remembered to give my son all his vitamins, and we’ve carefully prepared his school rucksack. Everything is ready. The crayons have been sharpened, homework has been done, and the morning snack is already packed in one of the side pockets of the rucksack.
But then something happens. Because something happens, always. Maybe I have forgotten the anti-slip socks for the PE lesson. Or the water bottle, so necessary only when it is missing. Or I have sharpened pencils, but I forgot to put the pencil case into the rucksack. And so on.
However, lately I’ve started a campaign against perfection. That’s right, you heard me – I’ve started rebelling against the idea that we must excel all the time, and everything must be perfect, no matter what. So even if it is late in the evening, and the kitchen is so disorganised that it is no longer just untidy – no, it resembles an ante-chamber of the Netherworld – and I still haven’t done all the secretarial work (in other words, answering reviewers and fans and Twitter notifications), and my son should rush to shower and then to bed… yes, even if life is imperfect and we’re running late, a mutinous thought enters my mind. And it goes like this: So what? And then another thought comes to mind, which goes like this: To hell with clean kitchens and timetables. I just want to live this one moment, chatting with my son. Without hurry. Without rushing. And then we chat, or play, or do something absolutely useless (which means that the rest is a merry chaos, starting from those unsharpened pencils and hurriedly prepared morning snack). But it does feel better, that way.
But going back to the December book launch, I’ve got one month to write that post on how it is to juggle between motherhood and work. Already now I can say that perfection is possible, in both fields – but only for about five minutes. The rest is nothing but various stages of imperfection, hurry and headache.
Because that’s how it is, life. Wholly and thoroughly imperfect. Chaotic and full of problems.
And still bestowed with so many little miracles and moments of pure happiness.