Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Book a Week

I was one of those nerdy kids who always had my nose stuck in a book. I had the uncanny ability to get so lost in a book that I would completely ignore everything going on around me, which really was a feat in my house (six people in a small house, it was generally crowded and noisy and hard to get away from each other). Often I would look up at the end of a chapter to find that someone had been trying to get my attention for several minutes or more. My parents used to take my books away as punishment. Cruel and unusual, if you ask me.

Anyway, when I had a really good book going and would get into my "zone," my mom used to warn me, "You won't be able to read like that when you become a mother. When you have kids, you have to pay attention to them and take care of your house and family. You can't be lost in a book all day." She offered this cautionary threat often enough that when I found myself as a new young mother (all of 18 months ago), that was the voice in my head. You can't read anymore, you need to pay attention and be responsible! You need to take care of your baby.

Here's the thing though. When you have a newborn who sleeps for eighteen hours a day and breastfeeds for approximately 90% of the rest of his waking hours, you actually have quite a bit of time on your hands for activities like reading (and crappy daytime television, but that was a short-lived affair, the stuff is just too awful). I got pretty good at balancing a nursing babe in one had and a book in the other (and also gained an entirely new appreciation for audio books). So my reading habits continued.

But so did the guilt. Because babies grow, and wean themselves, and become walking climbing terrors always getting into mischief. And then somehow having a kid means the laundry piles up and the dishes never get done and greasy hand prints show up mysteriously all over the house, and your husband starts dropping hints about the general disorder going on, and thoughts like maybe I should stop reading and start cleaning up this place start running through your head.

So anyway, last year some time I decided to make a compromise with myself. I set a goal to read one book a week, because somehow when I labeled it as a "goal" it changed from a vice to a virtue. It became something I "had" to do for this noble cause of meeting a goal. But it also set a cap on it, only one book a week. One book a week that I don't have to feel guilty about because it's working toward my noble goal (any books on top of that and I do feel guilty, it happens).

Sometimes, when I look at my to-read list, I get impatient thinking about all the books I still need to read and how am I ever going to get through them all when I only get 52 a year? But it's all about balance, this motherhood thing. And one book a week is the balance I need right now.

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