Daydreaming on Mother’s Day

What did I ask for on my first Mother’s Day? Time to daydream. In the shower, in bed…it doesn’t matter. I love letting my thoughts go.

Before I had a baby I did a lot of this daydreaming nonsense, except it’s not nonsense at all! Research shows that people who spend more time daydreaming are more creative (again, read Lehrer’s Imagine). And creativity means you can problem solve and make connections. In the past year I’ve noticed that when I’m working on new curriculum or trying to figure out what’s ailing a student, the answer usually comes during one of three activities: 1) laying in bed early in the morning; 2) showering; or 3) driving a familiar route.

These activities are all super relaxing and keep me open to lots of possibilities. They are also activities that I do alone, and two of them at home. In a brainstorming session at work I’m completely blocked, every time. I need space to reflect on the problem at hand, away from people and time constraints. I always felt bad about this—that I wasn’t adding much to the conversation, but apparently all of this is very common. Lehrer writes, “When our minds are at ease…we’re more likely to direct the spotlight of attention inward, toward that stream of remote associations emanating from the right hemisphere…The answers have been there all along—we just haven’t been listening.”

But now with baby Max, where do I find time for daydreaming and problem solving? Will the difficult questions build up? Will I need weekend retreats every so often to clear out my backlog of problems? Currently, naps are for pumping, a quick load of laundry, a nourishing snack, or a speedy shower. “Parenthood is relentless,” says my postpartum doula. And she’s right. It keeps on coming, day and night. And it keeps changing, too. There’s no possibility of a creative routine, like in Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, in which she recommends a daily structure to train your mind and body to enter a creative period. An afternoon coffee is what I used to use as my “trigger,” which Tharp suggests to begin your routine. What a luxury! Now, as a mom, I will have to settle for a less structured form of creativity, something more flexible and on-demand during those quick baby naps. Piecemeal creativity will have to suffice. At least I’ve got today, Mother’s Day, to fit in some daydreams.

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