I don’t know when I stopped being able to read.
Don’t get me wrong, I can physically read- I’m in the last semester of Nursing School and I have to read! Every day I have to read textbooks, journal articles, policy and procedures, and reference books. My brain is swimming with disease processes, pharmacology, nursing interventions, and pathophysiology. But reading for pleasure? I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve tried; believe me, I’ve tried! I’ve started and stopped so many personal development reads and fiction novels that I’ve got towers of books as a monument to my lost time and a life I once enjoyed.
I used to read all the time just for the sport of it, sometimes 4 or 5 books in a week! It was my escape and my favorite pastime. My book collection was one of my favorite things in my home, and it was all organized by the size of the book, author, and series. I could be lost in a different world for hours or days when I had the time. Honestly, my love of books was a beautiful thing. And I miss it. Now, I’ve got boxes of books packed in storage that I rarely think about in the flurry of everyday life.
I think, if I had to figure out when I started to lose this ability to read, it was after I had my beautiful daughter.
Obviously, becoming a parent was a major life change! I went from having plenty of time for myself to every waking minute consumed by trying to figure out how to care for this new little baby and being busy beyond belief. Instead of having time to relax and read, my time was spent over-analyzing her behavior, cries, and poop and struggling with breastfeeding and a lack of sleep. Being a new mom is all-consuming, and understandably so. It’s a whole new world and not like the fairy tale land of the Alladin.
Eventually, my ability to take an hour or two to myself to read came back; it was about the time when my daughter was 4 years old. But enter pregnancy number 2 and my evenings curled up in bed reading and escaping the stresses of the day with my literary adventures on the streets in Corfu or playing detective in New York City were very short lived. After the arrival of my second bundle of joy, that readjustment period to life with an infant consumed me again.
I expected it to take about the same amount of time to adapt to a family of four as it did when we had our first, which means I’ve still got a couple years to go. But I think since this is the second time around, we’ve gotten the hang of it two years early! However, I had this crazy idea to go to nursing school and get my RN, which essentially took the place of the time and effort it takes to raise an infant. Believe me, the amount of energy needed to successfully get through nursing school- the late nights, early mornings and oohing and ahhing over bowel function is quite similar! I feared that I would never be able to get back to my beloved reading anytime soon. Or at least not until after graduation.
Well, this week, I decided to investigate the glorious invention of audiobooks!
Guess what?! Audiobooks are not just for your grandmother to listen to while she knits or for the avid NPR listener. Oh, no! In exploring my audiobook options, I found timeless classics, contemporary best sellers, historical reference, personal development and even nursing study guides!
I had a ton of cleaning to do at home because, just like with the arrival of a new baby, cleaning gets neglected while in nursing school. While I knew my week would involve catching up on the dishes, organizing the bedrooms, Goodwill trips and getting through the mountain of laundry and the endless folding and sorting of clothes, I longed for the moments I used to enjoy curled up under an afghan lost in my imagination. Responsibility, unfortunately, trumped my desire to lounge about. But why can’t I do both!
Oh, but I could! I remembered that while I was undergoing some medical testing during the summer I used audiobooks to get me through the day. Since cleaning could very easily be as trying as medical testing (at least to me) maybe listening to a book could get me through that as well as it did my colonoscopy prep! (and yes, I did just relate the dreaded colonoscopy prep to the not-pleasant feelings I have toward cleaning.) Once I made a book selection, washing, drying, folding and putting away 8 loads of laundry suddenly wasn’t as overwhelming as it could have been. Multitasking by listening to the audiobook, getting lost in the story, learning about the characters, and being transported to another place, made the job much more bearable!
I will never judge a book by its cover again!
It never occurred to me that audiobooks could be the busy mom’s best friend! I listened to 3 books last week while on vacation and have another one going during dinner prep and on the drive to school this week. I have made it a priority to find pockets of time to listen while I work because of how happy it made me. I may not have the time to read for hours on end like I used to- but now that I’ve rediscovered my love of running away with a story, you can bet your bottom dollar I won’t forget how to read and go years without it again! No ma’am; a couple days, weeks at most maybe. Someday I’ll be able to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book again. But until then, this will do.