My mom loves peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. This sounds like the most disgusting combination in the world to me. Because, dear heavens, peanut butter and pickles don't go together. At all. I can't imagine why she thought putting those two things together between slices of bread was a good idea.
Being a mom and being a writer can seem equally incongruous at times. Both require an all-encompassing investment of self. Here's the thing, though: Momming trumps everything. Everything. All the things. That means that moms who write have to find a way to cram the creative process into any nook and cranny they manage to carve out for themselves.
I started writing when my kids were two and four, respectively. Have you ever seen comedian Michael McIntyre's bit about just trying to leave the house with small children? All I can say is YES. THIS.
The point is that things that are effortless without children become herculean achievements with them. Have you ever tried to just go to the damn grocery store with two children? When I die and go to hell, I will be shopping at Price Chopper with two little boys for all eternity. (Okay, that's hyperbolic, but you get the point. In fact, when I die and go to hell, I'm going to be standing in line at the French Consulate in Chicago for all eternity, but that's another story.)
When my children were very young, I was home with them during the day and working evenings and weekends. That meant I wrote during nap time. And for any of you have ever tried to accomplish something during nap time, you know how dicey that can be. Just as you get going, someone is going to wake up having slept only twenty minutes. Now, you have foiled dreams and a grumpy toddler on your hands. Either that or someone's going to barf: children, cats, dogs, you. Barfing happens all the time when you are momming.
Eventually, we reached a point in time where I would let them watch way too much television so I could write. Mommy guilt, anyone? "You let the tv babysit your children, Megan?" Yes. Yes, I did. And I wrote draft three of my book with the oppressive sounds of Digimon in the background at all times. When I die and go to hell, and I'm shopping for eternity at Price Chopper with two small children in tow, the Digimon theme song is going to be on a never-ending loop over the PA system. Digimon, digital monsters, Digimon are the CHAM-PIONS!
As a matter of fact, my boys are watching tv right now even as I write this lame blog post. Mom of the Year, right here.
Things have changed a lot since my early days of writing. My sons are eight and ten now, and my husband is a full-time Ph.D. student. I'm working 40 hours a week as a librarian and writing professionally on the side. I get up at 5:00 every morning to walk the dog. I make refrigerator oatmeal and set up the coffee pot the night before so that I can sit down and start writing as soon as I return with Bronte the Wonder Beagle. I write until I have to start getting ready for work at 7:00am. At work, I spend my lunch break writing. I make up for lost writing time on the weekends, especially Sunday mornings when I meet up with a writing buddy at 0'dark hundred at Panera to crank out some words ... unless I'm scheduled to work a Sunday shift.
And in the midst of all that, there are school events, music lessons, soccer practice, laundry (the albatross that hangs around my neck), and, ya know, just trying to be a decent mom to my kids.
But here's the thing: I don't know that I ever would have become a writer if I didn't have children. There's something about being a mom that makes you super human. You're forced to manage so many tasks and commitments that you become an efficiency machine. You figure out how to do more things in less time.
When I decided to start writing, I understood it to be a selfish thing, a hobby that was strictly for me and my own mental well being. That meant everything else had to come first, but that also meant that I valued the time I could allot myself, and I used it well. I had to set aggressive goals and meet hard deadlines. So my kids, who are quite frankly wonderful (not biased at all here) have enabled me to reach a major life goal.