Friday, July 17, 2015

Writing and Motherhood

My summer started with such good intentions.

The plan was to get up 1-2 hours earlier than my minions in hopes of getting a little writing done. Getting up early wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, given that I'm not a morning person. I loved watching the sun rise and finishing the most important task of the day so early. 

The problem began when the minions started getting up even earlier than usual. I, in turn, got up even earlier and went to bed earlier to make up for it. It didn't help. With all the running around from activity to activity and all the meals (why must children eat so much?) I was exhausted. And cranky. In short, sleep won out.

Now, four weeks into summer break I'm back to the haphazard approach of stealing a few moments here and there. I'm just starting to fall behind on my rewriting schedule but trying my best to keep up. I'm attempting to embrace all that summer entails--the messy house, the up-ended schedule, the spontaneous opportunities for fun. All the while, though, my novel simmers on the back burner and I wonder if I'll ever finish by my self-imposed deadline. It's really important to me, so I keep plugging away.

I once met a writer whom I greatly admire and he asked me if I had any children. I told him about my twin girls and how it was difficult for me to be fully present for them and for my writing at the same time. This particular writer had several grown children and sympathized with my situation. "Raise your children first," he said, "then when they're in college, write like crazy."

This isn't the first time I've heard this advice. Over and over again I've been told to put my work aside and focus my energy on raising my girls. The writing, they say, can wait.

I'm sure the author (and others) meant well and had the best of intentions. Perhaps he even thought he was offering me a bit of comfort in the form of permission to not be so hard on myself. I'll admit that his advice did comfort me at first, but then I couldn't help thinking that had I been a male writer, he probably wouldn't have told me to put my career on hold for the next ten years.

Must I choose one over the other? I love being a mother and having the luxury of spending lots of time with my children. I also love being a writer. If I was forced to pick one over the other, I would choose my kids. Thankfully, I don't have to make that choice. Still, there has to be a way I can have both without feeling depleted every single day. Am I asking for too much? Was that author simply stating the truth and I just don't want to hear it?

How do you juggle a writing career and motherhood?