Reading (After Kids)
Two and a half years ago, I was a reader. I loved reading, and as a writer, I considered it essential for my job. I engineered my life so I had space for a couple hours to read each day. I’d stretch out on the couch with one of the cats, or both, on my lap and swallow down books one by one.
Then my partner and I had twin girls, and as tends to happen when kids enter the picture, everything changed. During that first year after their birth, I read a total of eleven books—not nothing, but definitely far from my pre-baby norm. By the time the girls’ first birthday rolled around, I missed my reading time desperately. Life had gotten a little easier now that the twins were sleeping through the night, but between childcare, work, and all the other regular life stuff I had to do, my schedule was still jam-packed.
So I made a decision. I’d sacrifice a half hour of sleep every night in order to read in bed before turning out the light. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had decent success at sticking to that commitment, and even though I sometimes daydream about the long, luxurious hours on the couch I enjoyed in my previous life, the very scarcity of my reading time now makes it feel more precious.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered a new kind of reading: reading with the kids. Of course, I’ve been determined to instill a love of books in our girls all along. From the day we got them home I’ve been reading to them every single day. At first I was mostly just reading at them, but watching their comprehension of and interest in books slowly grow has thrilled me to no end. I’ve also enjoyed revisiting books from my childhood as an adult. I can now appreciate how well-crafted and sophisticated many of them are—like Where the Wild Things Are, for example, which has to be one of the great works of American literature. And newer picture books, like Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, have blown me away too. Lately I’ve been reading to the twins from a picture book edition of The Jabberwocky, and one day not long ago, completely out of the blue, they started reciting it back to me from memory, and my heart exploded. I’d had no idea they’d even been paying attention to those nonsense words.
There have been other casualties to Life with Kids, like movie night with my partner, and sleeping past six in the morning, but I’m happy to report reading has survived, albeit in an altered form. Two and a half years ago, I was a reader. Today, I’m still a reader, and I’m also making a couple of new ones.
Tim Floreen is the author of YA, Sci-Fi thrillers Willful Machines and Tattoo Atlas. Tim lives in San Francisco with his partner, adorable daughters, and patient cat. He is an avid fan of Wonder Woman, Linda Carter, and Les Mis. Meet Tim at Books Inc. Santa Clara on June 14th at 7:00 pm.