Someone once told me that whatever hobbies you want to have as a mother need to be in place already when you start having kids. And I get that. It’s like your schedule is what it is, the afternoon jogs, the Friday morning coffee with a particular friend, Sunday morning church. Because when the first kid comes along it takes up one hundred percent of the available time. And, really, it doesn’t matter how many kids you seem to keep having by some strange mystery, they always take up one hundred percent of your time and energy.
And that’s what it felt like when I made the decision somewhere after my first son was born to really start writing, like, regularly, like it was my job. It felt like I was trying to cram another ten percent into that already exhausting hundred percent.
When I first started, I was writing on Thursday nights and I would disappear among the coeds in the quiet tower of the library at Sacramento State University. But be assured that as soon as I want to write on Thursday nights the whole of Sacramento wants to see houses at the same time and needs a realtor. So I switched my time.
“The kids don’t get up until seven thirty,” I thought, “I’ll just get up at six and write for an hour and a half before everyone gets up.”
It worked like a charm for a while, the only side effect being I got addicted to coffee for the first time in my life. I still remember waking up and smelling the automatic drip like it was the morning’s warm present to me, so thoughtful. I mean, the sunrise is good, but so is coffee.
But my daughter, who was almost two at the time, began noticing that Mommy time was being wasted on a silly computer and began getting up earlier and earlier to keep me company until I had inadvertently created a six am waking habit for us both. I don’t know how she heard me. I was so quiet. How did she know?
I wrote at my Mom’s house when I could, but morning sickness and new baby fatigue sent me into hibernation for a while.
And then, when we moved to San Francisco my husband said, “How about Wednesday and Friday mornings until 8:30?”
“Really?!” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “This is it, Barbara, we’re here. Let’s do it.”
Some mornings I didn’t make it, I needed to spend my time on sleep. Somewhere in there it was switched to Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Sometimes I wrote blog posts. Sometimes I got to stay for hours past my time. At the end of it all I finished a book. Did I tell you that I finished a book?
But now the stock market is singing its siren song and my husband is fresh out of Odysseus’s wax to block his ears. And the closing bell doesn’t ring for Barbara’s writing time.
So, now I’m back to evenings. And my daughter cries when I leave. And last night I left and forgot to nurse the baby. Fortunately, he slept through the night with no ill effects. It was strange to leave the dirty dinner table, dishes, unbathed children, and three unfolded loads of laundry to descend to the quiet of the city streets. And for the seven pm streets of San Francisco to seem quiet you understand how loud those babies can be.
So here I am, with the blade of my hand still cramming the writing into the cracks of my life.
And the rejections are rolling in and I’m trying to work up the energy to send everything out again. My blanket seems to be woven today out of the cool colors of doubt and discouragement. Ugh. Blerg. Blech.
But none of this changes the fact that I have many stories to tell. Even as I write, characters and plots are meandering around mutely in the cool dark recesses of my unoccupied mind slowly developing motivations and desires. They hold them dear like the precious secrets that they are, not knowing that I watch them all the while. They don’t see my searching eye when I check in on their growing awareness, waiting for the ripe moment to tell their little bits of truth and beauty.
So, nothing’s changed. Momma’s just gotta whine, too, sometimes, I guess.
I’m a writer. And so, I’ll just write.