How to Write When You Don’t Even Have Time to Brush Your Teeth

Addie Page
6 min readJun 1, 2020
Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash, edited by the author

I’m writing this — like everything — on my phone, in the dark, with a single clumsy thumb.

It’s not a great system. (On the first attempt, Google interpreted that sentence as “ours not a great sudden.”) The glare stings, my wrist cramps. I can see a few sentences at a time, at best. It’s like writing through a keyhole.

I long for my laptop and a table, perhaps at a cafe near a generous window. Or the ultimate luxury: editing on an actual piece of paper. What I would give for a red felt-tip marker and a latte.

But here I am, wrestling my Android like some kind of techno-Jacob, losing badly.


Because if I turned on the light, it would wake the larval human currently draining the life out of me through my left nipple. (Always, for some reason, the left one. This kid has strong opinions.)

This is the only way she sleeps.

If she is not being nursed by me, or rocked by my husband, she is running at full speed. This is true for naps, and this is true at night. I haven’t slept, really, in a year.

She is my second child, and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic babysitter ban, so even if I did by some miracle get her to sleep in a crib, I’d have to contend with the older one. At this point, I’m a human-shaped construction of scaffolding, duct tape, and unbrushed teeth.

If I have ten minutes to myself, I have to use it to do things like shove a sandwich in my face, or actually do my day job, or wash dishes. Or poop. (But I better not flush it before my 4-year-old has a chance to inspect its size and consistency. This is my life now.)

So why am I using my few scarce moments of quiet to write this little missive to you, on my phone, in the dark?

Because, at the end of a trying day, it gives me a little lift to think that I could be useful to you. After all, if I can keep writing with my thumb (now 90% numb under the weight of this fat baby’s head), maybe I can help you do the same.

So in that spirit, here is my strategy:

First: remember that…

Addie Page

Essayist. Parent. Unusual woman. Sign up here to be notified when I publish: