As I struggle to get my ducks in a row vis a vis my life and my time, I realize that there are things that I’m not going to be able to stop, and not going to be able to ignore. Chief among these is my commitment to my children. My son Bailey is ten and my daughter Sydney is seven, and they are great kids. (Will someone please remind me that I’ve said this when Sydney leaves the light on in the bathroom or Bailey forgets to bring his homework to school?) On most days they’re easygoing and as they’re getting older, they’re less and less demanding. Somehow when they were ages three and seven, I managed to write a dissertation, so writing now ought to be a piece of cake in comparison.
Yet somehow, it’s not.
When they were littler, I would put them to bed at 7 or 7:30pm and they would miraculously stay there all night, leaving me a few hours of writing time. I had a doctoral committee breathing down my neck and strict deadlines to meet. I slept between midnight and 7:00am and it was plenty.
Now that they’re getting older, they stay up later and need help with book reports, problem sheets and the like. They need to be driven to activities, I have to concentrate when I eat meals with them, and there are endless social events surrounding their friends and their friends’ families. Their school commands my time (in a loving and interested way) and I’ve been a room mother for two years now.
But the worst and most distracting part of parenting now happens in my brain. I worry about Sydney’s ability to rattle off her times tables. I worry about Bailey getting along with some of the kids in his class. I think about the summer and the long break with our family back in the United States – it’s mostly just the kids and me for ten long weeks – my husband will join us for two and a half of it, but not much. Thinking it through and planning for that time has taken a lot of my brain power lately. These are serious issues that take up my time and my energy. But more than my time, they take up my brain-space.
Today, there was just no room for writing or thinking. None.
It doesn’t happen often, really. It’s an occasional bout with life when life wins and knocks me for a loop. Generally I can compartmentalize the issues so that they fade into the background when I’m writing – whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or academic. But not every day.
Today I gave myself permission to take a long, hot bath with bath salts, followed by some reading. This was after a one-hour talk with my mother and another one-hour talk with my best friend. I was able to relax and clear my mind enough to get to some tasks that needed to get done for my charity work. I got my son’s glasses repaired. I wrote this blog posting. Perhaps tonight when the kids go to bed (not ‘til around 9-ish) I will be able to do some editing on my novel.
The great thing about bad days is that they end. I will go to bed tonight by 11pm and the day will come to a close. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Tomorrow, I will be able to shut off the telephone and concentrate on my writing. Such is the life of a writer who’s a mother. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.