Having a kid means confronting a vast swath of uncertainty. Yes, yes, people do it all the time, and they're more than willing to tell you about it. But as I've observed here before, everybody's different; the demands of a newborn come in all sizes, and sometimes things become clearer as you do them yourself. So the uncertainty in my case had to do with how to balance the baby with all the other crap I have to do and want to do, especially intellectual work. Women scholars I know have managed (as well as men who have a big hand in child-rearing), but I couldn't figure out how they are able to sustain good work with their available time reduced to snatches.
What I didn't know but am discovering, is that a writing project can remain alive in my head even when it's not on a screen in front of me. Of course this was true pre-baby, but it's even more the case now that I'm spending lots of time at home doing stuff like feeding, cleaning bottles and pump parts, or re-assembling cloth diapers. Such tasks leave lots of room in the old brain for planning out a conference paper or--I've yet to do this but am about to try--a book chapter.
Those sage, experienced women I know told me that when I got time, I would sit down and immediately be "in" to whatever writing I had going. I couldn't imagine or understand that, but now I do. Brain space is sharable, and there's lots of it leftover when one is engaged in rather mundane tasks. And so when JM has charge of Nora, or when my mother-in-law is in town, I can hand her off, come up to my office, and write and write.
If I had a lot of time, I would also like to insert a big rant here about the myth of "mommy brain." All the talk about how women become stupider when they have babies seriously scared me. Maybe I'm just being dumb, but I don't really see it. Perhaps I'll blog about this another day.
The other thing that has happened is that I screw around online less, or I save the facebook and blog posts and online shopping and whatnot for when I'm in charge of Nora and when we're not playing or looking at high-contrast books--i.e., mostly when she's snoozing by my side (or like right now, she is sleeping in her swing two floors down, but I'm watching and listening to her via our awesome video monitor). (I have a feeling I'll soon be nostalgic for the snoozy newborn.) In other words, writing time is writing time, whereas previously I easily let it be co-opted by other stuff. The more rare it is, the more precious.
Such could be said about more than time.