“Don’t miss it!” Selah’s high-pitched command breaks my fragile focus, and my eyes flick from my laptop to the TV screen. She’s watching Masha and Bear, a silly Netflix show about an introverted bear whose carefully laid plans for the day are consistently disrupted—and his orderly home often destroyed—by a pig-tailed toddler named Masha. Masha may be frustrating and chaos-inducing, but she is also charming and sweet and completely well-intentioned. So basically, she’s Selah.
“Don’t miss it!” Selah shouts again from her spot beside me on the couch.
I look at Selah as I explain, perhaps for the thousandth time, “I will miss it, baby, but I’m choosing to miss it and I’m okay with that. I’m doing my work now so we can have time to play together later.”
I know she doesn’t yet comprehend the choices I’m trying to model for her in this moment and in others like it—delaying gratification, choosing something better even if it looks like missing out on fun in the moment, going after something that’s hard but worthwhile. Still, I feel satisfied that I tried and pat myself on the back for a nicely executed parenting moment, and then I return to my laptop screen.
“Don’t miss it!”
The first few times Selah said this—“Don’t miss it!”—it stopped me in my tracks in all the ways you would expect. I thought big thoughts about how I don’t want to miss a single moment with her. How I want to keep my eyes open to the wonders of life with a three-year-old. How if I don’t pay attention now, I’ll wake up to find that she’s a teenager and I’ll realize that I did, in fact, miss it.
These thoughts initially struck me as a little trite and sentimental (and perhaps even guilt-inducing), but what else could I possibly take away from Selah’s words? Obviously this is what God was trying to teach me, right?
Then around the same time, I was offered a book deal.
I was 20 weeks pregnant, and part of me thought the timing was less than perfect but probably doable. With the progress I’d already made on my sample chapters, I could finish a first draft before the baby arrived, and then I could use the months after his arrival to revise and edit—tasks that takes far less brain power for me.
But the other part of me thought saying yes would be crazy and stress-inducing and, quite frankly, selfish. Our family’s world is going to be turned upside down in just a few months, I thought. Do I really want to spend those last few months with Selah as my only child feeling stretched and stressed, committed to the max, exhausted from getting up early to write?
I knew that I’d be doing most of the writing when Selah was asleep or when I was on my lunch break—time when I wouldn’t be with her anyway. But with all the extra work, with the getting up early and constantly searching for cracks in which to write, would I be a stressed-out, exhausted, basket-case mom when I was with her? My patience and ability to withhold from yelling is directly proportional to how much sleep I get—would that go down the drain? Would I be able to be the present, patient, loving mom I want to be?
Plus, I would surely need to get out of the house for longer stretches of writing time more often than I normally do. So even if it’s minimally disruptive for Selah, I would still be gone a couple of Sundays a month and maybe a few weekends between January and April.
The key thought banging around in my head was this: Don’t miss it!
I was afraid that signing a book contract would mean missing out on precious time before we all have to give up Selah’s only-child status. It would mean missing out on some sleep, a hard thing to come to terms with as I look toward a season of sleep deprivation. It might mean skipping the tasks that would make me feel more ready for baby: finishing the nursery, perfectly folding all of baby boy’s pajamas, stocking the freezer with pre-cooked meals.
I ran this decision by some trusted friends, and not a single person thought I would be selfish or crazy for going for it. And while most of them understood my hesitations, they didn’t hesitate at all to tell me that I should do it.
One writer friend reminded me that life isn’t going to slow down after this next baby is born. This is perhaps the calmest my life will be for the foreseeable future, so if I write to write this book someday, that someday should be now.
Another writer friend reminded me that Selah has had three whole years of my undivided parenting attention, and there is no amount of magic I can create in these final few months that will make the transition to having a baby brother any easier. She will still be my daughter once the baby arrives, and she might need more of that special time with me after the baby arrives, when I’m not writing as intensively.
She summed up her thoughts this way: “Don’t say no because of your kids. Say no if you don’t want to write this book anymore, but don’t say no to your lifelong dream because you happen to be having a baby.”
Thanks to this wise friend, I heard Selah’s words—“Don’t miss it!”—in a totally new way. Don’t miss this.
Choose to miss this opportunity if that’s what I actually, truly, really want. Choose to miss it if I’m not willing to get up early in the mornings to get the writing done. Choose to miss it if this isn’t the book I want to write anymore.
Don’t miss it because I’m scared. Don’t miss it because I think I’m not capable. Don’t miss it because I think I’m not enough. And definitely don’t miss it because I’m taunted by a false sense of guilt.
I was afraid of showing Selah an overworked and overtired version of her mom, and at times these last few months, I have. I have.
But I said yes to my dream knowing what else I’d be showing her: a woman—her mom—who knew she was supposed to do a hard, worthwhile, beautiful thing. A woman who felt afraid and inadequate but chose to shut out her negative inner voice and do the beautiful thing anyway. A woman who went after her dream simply because she wanted to.