Awwww, I wish that every time I spoke of the little critters it would be with the enthusiastic, emotional, lip-trembling adoration I imagined it would be before I had them. Alas, welcome to the real world of the writer as mommy.
Half-term break (last week in October) was one of those times I only just managed to keep my sanity while handling the babies. I wrote here about the new project that’s been burning at my brain cells, and somehow I thought, with the kids at home and otherwise occupied and no school-runs or packed lunches to attend to, I’d have some time to write the chapters I’ve been dreaming of.
What was I thinking?
When the teen wasn’t asking me for everything from a football to a new gaming system to an all-expenses paid trip to football academy, the little one was asking me to turn the TV to Peppa Pig, or get her a snack, or wipe her butt, or take her outside or something. And when it wasn’t either of them pestering me, it was both of them squalling at each other. To make a long story short, I finally threw in the writing towel around day 2 of the half-term holiday and decided to put my all into enjoying them, and making sure that they enjoyed the break from school. (Read: no writing) We had a good time, but I admit to those moments at the museum when the teen wanted to share his enthusiasm about one or other machine and I looked at him as if in a daze, my mind diving deep into the next two chapters of the new book. Sigh….
The challenges of being both writer and mother have been written about before. An article in the New Yorker summed it up best, I think, by saying that it isn’t the sum of her children that influences a woman writer’s success or productivity, it’s the sum of her free time. Arguably, a woman could have five children and consistently produce work of high quality, but in such a case she’ll probably have a husband and at least one helper, if not more.
There have been quite a few days since I got here when I’ve let the housework and the child-minding go to hell while I worked on something. My kids haven’t lacked for good basic care -but if there’s been a choice between getting a chapter down and them helping themselves to cereal versus making them eggs and bacon and writing a line… well, I’m sorry, reader, they had cereal.
Nowadays I wonder sometimes if you really can have it all. I’ve taken a renewed interest in my health and fitness recently, which takes time. The children aren’t going anywhere and their wants and needs seem to get ever more complex and demanding in terms of what is required of me. And then the deadline for my MA certificate submission looms closer and closer with this one particular story that’s been winning our WWF-worthy smack-down! To say I’m stretched is an understatement but, somehow, I can’t see that I’d want it any other way. I want my children with me. Full-stop. Not being cared for by Granny. I want to excel in my writing programme and produce the book I’m dreaming of. And I want to be in the best possible health when I do it.
So if anyone out there has this particular struggle and is winning …. drop me a line and let me know your secret!