I usually have stains on my shirt. I sweat a lot from picking kids up and down all day, and if I am talking to you in a public place with my children in tow, I am typically looking out of the corner of my eye to ensure they don’t run away.
I’ve been a mom for over thirteen years. It’s the one part of me that is constant. Whether I am grumpy or happy, chubby or thin, motivated or lazy, I’m always a mom.
About six years ago I admitted to a quiet desire to write. Not just “please excuse Evangeline from school on Tuesday because she had a doctor visit” write, but the other kind. The writer-possibly-author kind. The produce-readable-work kind.
With my husband’s support, I rearranged our family’s schedule. Instead of doing housework, making doctor appointments, and keeping the ship running smoothly at home, the things I used to do during the three short hours when my youngest was at preschool, I wrote. Our family adjusted. Sure, our house was messier but everyone pitched in more. Some days I ignored laundry. Some days I ignored my kids. Life went on, things got done, and I got to write.
When I typed on my trusty old laptop, I felt closer to my true self. I was still mom to Lainie, Zoya, Polly, and Evie, but I was also Gillian, the person who liked to examine life and craft sturdy sentences that hopefully, when put together, built a story.
Today, my first book is published and I am working on a second. I love my work, but this writer/mom business is still a challenge. Every day I reconcile writer and mom and try to make both parts add up. I’m a walking checkbook that needs a continual balance. Ethal Rohan once said, “Essentially, I have three children: two daughters aged ten and seven and my writing. I strive to do my best by all three.” Due to sickness, doctor appointments, homework, and soccer practice, writing doesn’t always happen for me. But I keep going. And I write.
If you are a mom who wants to write, here are a couple of thoughts that may help you today:
1) Start writing.
It is the best and most difficult advice. We are busy. Time and energy are hard to come by, and we have kids around who, frankly, aren’t too happy that we pay attention to our computers. Get up an hour before the kids. Ignore the dishes once they are down at night. Kate Hopper, an author and champion of mama writers, says you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. Finding time to write with children is tricky but even if you carve out one hour a week to sit down and put words together, you are on your way.
2) Find blogs about motherhood and writing.
3) Learn the craft.
If you want to be published you must write well. Writing muscles take time to grow. Pick up Kate Hopper’s book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Join a writing group at your local library. Take a class on writing. There are classes both online and in real life. I have a mama friend who took the online class called The Momoir Project. She loved it.
4) Don’t give up!
Writing with kids at home is a challenge. But women have done it with great success. J.K. Rowling has three children. Toni Morrison is mother to two. Mary Higgins Clark has raised five kids. I have a lot of friends who are juggling motherhood and getting words down on paper. If you have a desire to write, make it happen.
Writing makes me a better mom. And my work helps form my daughters, too. They are empowered by watching me pursue and achieve my goals. They see that I am happy. They understand they can have more than one dream in life, and with God’s help, they can do things relatively well most days.
So from one mom to another, I say go for it.
I’m cheering for you,