of books and babies

Yesterday I opened the cover of Middlemarch, the first book I had tried to read for pleasure in probably a month. I made it through the introduction, but my brain was already hurting. In that moment, I told myself that I would never be this era’s great American novelist. If I can’t read George Eliot on my worst of days, I can’t write timeless fiction on my best of days.

Today I settled for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer instead. Eliot will have to wait for another day — maybe a day without diapers and nursing and chasing after a baby who’s much too young to be pulling himself up stairsteps.

I read the first three chapters out loud to my little boy, rolling out the Missouri twang like no one was listening. I imagined days when I’d lie in bed with all our little children, reading it again when they’re old enough to actually understand. And I decided it was okay if I”m never a famous writer.

I might survive motherhood to pump out some readable nonfiction. I might even try to finish those novels I started in the days when pumping didn’t bring breasts to mind. And I’ll fall back into reading books like a natural, I’m sure, wondering what I ever found so difficult about Middlemarch. But in reading and writing and feeling intellectual again, I’ll be thankful for having done more important things with my life — things relating to diapers and nursing and chasing after a baby (who’s much too young to be pulling himself up stairsteps).

    • Luke
    • June 28th, 2007

    For some reason my News Feed showed me your post from 9/28/06 was new today, so I read through it and the comments.

    I just thought I’d let you know it made me smile.

    Hope everything is going well with the little one.

    God Bless

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