Vacation Days aka Writing When the Kids Are Home

January 16, 2012

The life of a mother can be divided into three parts—Diaper Days, School Days, and Didn’t-you-move-out-? Days—all of which have varying impacts on writing.

During my Diaper Days, writing supported the family while my husband was off pursuing his dream. I started writing freelance articles on parenting while I babysat other kids. With all the fodder around, I was able to keep the pitches flowing and build strong professional relationships with influential editors. At my busiest, I had my own two children, three other children, a pug dog and three deadlines a week.

Eventually, I was able to dump the daycare duties when I accepted an assistant editor position. My career continued to grow, and so did my family. When my third child was born, I was so used to nursing and typing or using my foot to bounce the baby seat while on a conference call, that I never questioned how I balanced it all. I just did.

And then one by one the kids went off to school. Between nine and three each day, the house fell silent—except for holidays and summer vacation. Welcome to School Days.

Nothing wreaks havoc on a writing mom more than the reemergence of kids in a spot of the day which was once childfree. After everything I’d been through, all the diapers I’d changed in between expert calls, all the words I’d typed during naps and videos, how was it possible one holiday from school could derail my writing?

Oh, it’s possible. In fact, it’s happening today.

Be quiet! (I need silence to write.) Leave me alone! (I can’t focus with interruptions.) Can’t you make your own damn lunch?

What has happened to me? I used to write prolific copy to the sound of Doodlebops. I used to lock my bedroom door, hide in my closet and conduct celebrity interviews while my spawn bickered over the last “fancy spoon.” Has the reemergence of regular quiet me time created a writing wimp?

Some days—usually in July when I’m certain summer vacation has dragged on too long, and we still have a month to go!—I dream of all the writing I’ll get down “when the kids are gone.” But then reality sinks in, and I realize the moment I’m ready to turn my last born’s room into a writing haven, the Didn’t-you-move-out-? Days will begin.

We wonder how to combine motherhood with writing. We read blog posts and listen to expert advice, but there’s no secret recipe. you want the truth? We’re trapped, stuck between mom and writer in a realm where one interrupts the other at a frenetic pace. You need changed? After this sentence. Plot hole solved? After I make this grilled cheese.

And yet when the story falls into place as the child falls into our arms, the chaos seems manageable. For all the aggravation this mom-writing life causes, we wouldn’t want it any other way.



4 Responses to “Vacation Days aka Writing When the Kids Are Home”

  1. Elley, are you living in my house? 😉

    Can I add feeling guilty as hell, when you snap at a little person, because they ask you something at just the wrong moment, and their little face crumples up.
    Not pretty and then of course, you can’t get back into the moment either.

    That’s usually when I give up and switch to just mummy mode until the little darlings are in bed.

    Hmm, having one of those days it seems!

  2. taristhread Says:

    “And yet when the story falls into place as the child falls into our arms, the chaos seems manageable. For all the aggravation this mom-writing life causes, we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

    I couldn’t have said it better!!

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