Having an infant is a real roller coaster of emotions. I swoop from highs of loving adoration to valleys of exhausted frustration all day (and night) long. There are times in the night, when she won’t sleep, when I look into her big, blue eyes and implore, “why, Baby? Why are you doing this to me?”
Both my husband and I are finding that nine weeks of constant sleep-deprivation is taking its toll. Recently Paul was making himself a sandwich and put the mustard bottle in the dish rack instead of back in the fridge. The other day I found myself stuffing Baby into her footie pajamas without putting a new diaper on her. Oops.
Some days I have what I call a “tired headache,” and I’ve taken to drinking coffee in the morning – I was never much of a coffee drinker before.
As much as I try to heed my own advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps, she often sleeps on me in her wrap, which makes it difficult for me to nap (though I do manage it sometimes.) And, I must admit, I often use her naps as time to do laundry, eat lunch, take a shower, write this blog post, etc. This is all, of course, when she actually naps. On Monday we had a delightful time in which Baby basically refused to sleep from 1:30 in the afternoon until nine o’clock at night.
So is it any wonder that sometimes I just don’t have the energy for anything other than TV?
Admitting to binging on TV shows is one thing, but here’s the real secret: since coming home with Baby from the hospital, I have watched the entire first season (all twenty-two episodes) of Pretty Little Liars.
PLL (as I like to call it) is a ridiculous teen soap/drama. A girl is murdered and her four gorgeous friends (who always have perfect hair and awesome clothes) are being plagued by text messages from a mysterious person who somehow knows all their secrets. Not a whole lot happens in each episode (although lots of meaningful glances are exchanged between characters), and anyone with half a brain can follow the plot. Which is great, because half a brain is what I feel like I’m working with most days.
Not that I’ve become a total TV-junkie. I’ve read four books since coming home with Baby from the hospital, and I just started another (Little Strangers by Sarah Waters – enjoying it so far!) As long as the book is on Kindle it’s pretty easy to read one-handed while I breastfeed. But sometimes, honestly, I’m too tired to read, so I open up Netflix.
I’ve watched some legitimately good shows in addition to my guilty pleasure of PLL. I thoroughly enjoyed American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson. I also re-watched Season 1 of the Netflix Original series Love before binging on Season 2. At night, my husband and I watch episodes of Brooklyn 99.
Sometimes I feel guilty about all this TV. Shouldn’t I be reading instead? Reading is better for me, isn’t it? It’s what will help me with my writing. But for one thing, I need to give myself a break. I’m taking care of a two-month old and running on only a few hours of sleep each night. I can and should watch a few TV shows if I darn well want to.
For another thing, aren’t TV shows just a different way to tell stories? And isn’t telling stories what writers do? TV shows can teach me at least a little bit about plotting and character development and dialogue. In fact, I often think that a good novel chapter is much like a good TV show episode: it has conflict and a mini-plot arc that fits into the larger plot arc… and it ends with a cliffhanger, of course.
Even silly PLL may have lessons for me. If I want to write for teens (which I do) then watching a teen show isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Of course, Season One of PLL is from 2010. If I really want to get hip to the teens of today, I’ll need to work my way through all seven seasons. Whew, that’s a lot of episodes… I better lose the guilt and get to watching!