Becoming Illiterate


I used to read.  A lot.  At the height of my blissful insanity I read four books in one day.  They weren’t all War and Peace, but they weren’t Magic Treehouse either.  Fast forward a decade and I’m becoming illiterate.

I used to be really active with friends who enjoyed the same authors, and we hung out online together every day.  We traveled to book signings to meet up and hang out in real life, and may have even done karaoke together once the alcohol kicked in…though I cannot confirm or deny that piece.  My friends even threw me a baby shower in Maryland when I was pregnant with N, with the cake traveling all the way from New Orleans on a lap so I could have a specific cake from a special bakery.  Driving to all these with W was the best.

Brad Meltzer may or may not be the father of my older son. (Just kidding, Mrs. Meltzer!  And Jeff!)

Seriously, I loved these friends deeply, still do actually, though my life got complicated with complicated children.  I miss them. (The friends, not the complicated children.  They’re both right here.)

I mention the baby shower because I remember one line from the weekend that is etched on my brain to this day.  One well-meaninged friend shared that after she had kids it was 20 years before she read again.  It may have been an exaggeration, but it was the first time I really wondered what I was getting myself into.  I’ve never really been career-minded.  I was a workaholic, but not because I felt any driving need to get ahead.  I just had poor delegation skills and wasn’t a team player, which meant I had a lot of work to do and preferred to just do it myself.

I’ve come a long way, baby…haha, no I haven’t.

The point (there was one!) is that I wasn’t wracked with stress over how it was all going to shake out.  Jeff may disagree, but it wasn’t particularly bothersome to think how we’d have to rearrange our lives for baby.  By then I’d quit my (excellent) job and had gone back to school for photography anyway.

I digress.  So anyway, I had this alien baby growing inside me, and it had been for many months.  I was sick.  I had medical complications.  The only real baby experience I’d ever had was my niece, Ashley.  I had no idea what was on the horizon with my infested womb, but that was cool and I felt relatively calm about it all.  But no reading?  What the hell was she talking about??  That was total garbage.  I was nervous.

I pretty much lost my mind at that point.  Pregnancy hormones turned me into a freaking idiot.  I got lost once driving home from my mom and dad’s and wound up at O’Hare Airport.  No shit.  There I was at the airport.

I had a lot of loafing time during those days, but couldn’t concentrate to read.  I think that was the beginning of the end, really.  I watched game shows and cooking shows, and capped off the entertainment with doctor appointments.  I fell off the vegetarian wagon, lost track of my dear friends, became a hermit.  Honestly, I’ve always had hermit tendencies, so it was more like I nurtured that charming facet of my personality.  I’m pretty sure I showered, but was a vagrant hobo in all other ways.

I stopped buying books for myself and started collecting children’s books.  I have no balance, so I REALLY started collecting the books.  Signed Caldecotts were my favorite score.  Recently I started volunteering at Scholastic Warehouse sales and have earned hundreds and hundreds of free books for my kids…but I hardly ever read for me.  It kind of became a joke the last couple of rounds of volunteering that a friend of mine (Scholastic Warehouse convert!  Yay!) would mention a book, I’d then mention I had it but hadn’t read it yet.  That one too.  Yep, got that book two warehouse sales ago…haven’t read it.  Heard it’s good.  No, haven’t read that one either.

How sad, right?

Here’s the punchline.  I forgot what the point of this post was going to be and we’re running late now for MRU, our homeschool group.  I’m not sure, but I may have just made my own point.  My brain used to be a well-oiled machine, but having kids (awesome kids!) has chewed me up and spit me out like a pile of rancid cud.  I don’t even know if I could finish a whole book, let alone four in one day, at this point.  When I do read,  I’d never admit the titles to other people!  Quantity *and* quality have suffered.

I picked up my Kindle over the weekend and it was dead.  It had been sleeping for weeks and slipped away quietly, alone but for the company of a stuffed bird on my nightstand.

I plugged it in, but who’s going to plug me in? (cue funeral dirge)

Worst case scenario is I have eleven more years until the prophesy expires.  Twenty years isn’t so bad, right?  I hope I did the math right.

Have you changed significantly since having kids?  Given up passions?  What do you do about it?

5 Comments

  1. Cathy said,

    October 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    It gets easier, really. I have always been someone that HAS to have downtime. I don’t require a lot of socialization, I just need my downtime. I was lucky in that my kids were the same way when they were younger. They have now transformed into socialized kids that love to be with others. I don’t know where I went wrong there. 🙂

    Before kids I didn’t really enjoy cooking. Now, I love it! If I want company I can ask the kids to help out and connect with them in the kitchen and if I need time to organize my thoughts, I know they have other things they would like to do besides cut vegetables. It is kind of meditative for me and I often come home after a long day and find I need to cook to find my balance.

    Like you I love reading. Finding time for a book doesn’t always fit into the schedule which is why I have a huge addiction to blogs. They can be read quickly and the added bonus is they don’t take up much room in the house. I love escaping into other people’s lives for a short time learning how they live and how they think. Thanks for sharing your life here.

    • Kim B. said,

      October 6, 2011 at 8:45 am

      I want an exact date when it’s going to get easier! 🙂 N used to require a lot of downtime, which was great. That really fit my extremely introverted ways. E has never required downtime.

      I don’t know if cooking is going to be my solution. That would be perfect and I aspire, but my patience and skills handicap me from the gate.

      Blog addiction might work for me.

  2. October 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Oh yes, I have DEFINITELY changed. When my kids were born, I didn’t focus on buying children’s books, I bought educational toys. I mean, I BOUGHT educational toys. If I could have a nickel for every…well, you get it. Now that they are past the toy phase, I’ve slipped into researching education. I won’t ever go back to my former product management/development self, but I am worried about what I will be when I, uh, I mean my kids, grow up…

    • Kim B. said,

      October 6, 2011 at 8:50 am

      We should have a Neurotically Excessive Mom’s Garage Sale, Kathy! I have lots of toys too!

      My garage sale would have eight things for sale, tops, though. The rest I will have rationalized reasons for keeping…forever!

      I’m glad you’ve moved on to something productive and useful. I’m still stuck in the whining stage.

  3. Kato said,

    October 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I will never ever sell my extensive Playskool Pipeworks collection. I’m going to build my retirement house out of them..


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