First there are the children. A toddler and an infant all rosy and wailing and marvellous. There is the full-time job teaching English to newcomers. The joy of this job and the way it makes language constantly break open, spill out all messy and confusing. The way culture and language knot and pull and tear at life. The administration done hurriedly around pumping breast milk and eating. The hilarity of this multitasking. There is the husband and our balancing. Him bursting into “circle of life” as I shovel pureed chicken into the baby and he wipes up the latest potty-training disaster. The pure absurdity of all that life. I caught my daughter trying to breastfeed Quebec the other day. Don’t ask.
And then there’s the writing. And thinking about writing. And planning for writing. Everything is done in stolen moments. On the bus to work. Between the kids’ various fluctuating bedtimes and my own unconsciousness. But it happens. Dribs and drabs. The rare vacation day taken secretly and spent buried in the public library. An occasional Saturday afternoon when simultaneous naps happen.
All of this must be planned to precision and done at a moment’s notice. Rigid and fluid. The goals must be modest and accumulative. A checklist with gold stars for the smallest success. Sitting down with a pen and book only to be drawn away after the thought of a word. The success of getting to this point because first came the decision to ignore those buried voices that chide for making time. Five minutes, ten minutes, three hours, and on and on. To make time to read as well as write. To read for love. To write for self.
Vanessa Lent lives and works in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University where she studied late Canadian modernisms. She lives with one human man and two human children. In between stanzas and diapers she spends her days teaching English to refugees and new immigrants.