A Short Story About Reading, or, Getting Over a Reading Slump. Again.

This is a story in three parts.

Part the first: Two weeks after my son was born, I was at the doctor and was told that he hadn’t gained enough weight. I really like his doctor, who very non-judgmentally reassured me that formula was an option, or she would help me make breastfeeding work. I opted to stick with nursing, and realized shortly thereafter that I needed to nurse more. Like, a lot more.

I have this super useful app that I use to track things like time spent nursing, diapers changed, amount pumped, etc, and one of the stats it gives me when I ask is total time spent nursing in a day. The day we saw the doctor, I went from an average of 2 1/2 hours per day to 4 hours per day.

Part the second: I was listening to a “books and reading” podcast, and the interview subject was talking about finding time to read (and how hard that is), and the interviewer gave him a little speech about fitting reading into the cracks. Read in line, she said. Read waiting to pick up the kids, she said. Read in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, she said. Read whenever you have a minute or five to spare.

These are all things I know and have heard before, but hearing them that day was the reminder I needed. Use whatever time you have, I thought.

Part the third: I’d been slogging my way through The Winter of the Witch. Part of the problem was that I knew how long it was. Part of it was the slow pacing when the author was taking her time. And part of it was the little message at the bottom of my Kindle, telling me how much time it would take me to finish the book. That day, it said, “Time left: 6 hours.”

Now it all comes together, because I’d been considering putting the book down. I felt like I would never finish. But here in black and white was proof: I’ll finish. It’s easy. Baby steps are steps, too. I can take it a minute at a time; just read for 6 hours. And I thought to myself, if I spend 4 hours a day stuck in one place nursing a baby, all I have to do is spend that time reading, and I’ll finish tomorrow!

Which I did.

IMG-1715Now, I know this seems like an obvious solution, and believe me, it was. But let’s bear in mind that I was a sleep-deprived new mom, stressed and overwhelmed. And the epiphany I had came at just the right moment, to remind me of three things I already knew: Being stuck in one place may seem rough, but it’s often an opportunity to do something you don’t normally have time for. Reading is like ice cream – it fills in the cracks. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.