For my next trick…writing and being a mom at the same time

There are many things that I would like to figure out when I grow up. How to parallel park in a spot on the left, for example, or getting all the breakfast items to actually be ready at the same time, or math. But maybe most of all, I am trying to figure out how to write while also being a mother. (I almost wrote “be a good writer and a good mother” but then that seemed too ambitious.)

I’m now (well, not RIGHT now) revising a novel draft that I started when Harper was a few months old. I certainly would not say I’ve figured it out (the novel or the process) but here’s what I’ve learned so far.

1) It’s important to forget that the baby is a person who will one day grow up and learn English and possibly read this book and hate you. Hm, same goes for blogs now that I think of it.

2) It’s also important to remind yourself that even if this book never changes the world/becomes a bestseller/sees the light of day, having a project for your brainmagination is helping you to be a saner, calmer mother, fighting the ravages of baby-brain rot, and making clear to your child that creativity can be a part of daily life and is valued in your family. And hopefully said child will end up as a non-degenerate anyway.

3) In terms of the actual issue of Finding the Time: scrap and scrape. Hello, I’m writing this post while Harper eats breakfast, on my iPhone (hidden so Harper won’t beg for “Hold Me,” her beloved Sesame Street YouTube video clip of Smokey Robinson singing U Really Got a Hold on Me to a giant letter U). (Which also means this is a kind of experiment, so I apologize if it looks and reads like it was, well, written on a phone during breakfast.) I take a few hours every Saturday morning to go to the coffee shop and write. What used to be a chore has become my “me time.” I get a (decaf, ugh) cappucino, I sit by myself, when people with wailing kids stop in I don’t even look up with a sympathetic smile. Luxury!

I also do a babysitting/writing time exchange with another mom once a week. I figure it’s good for Harper to get dropped off somewhere every once in a while anyway, to get used to being separated from me every now and then, which I assume she will dislike her entire life. Actually she totally
doesn’t care and yells “Bye bye!” as soon as we get there.

One mom-writer told me she lets her 4 year old watch a movie while her 2 year old naps and in this way gets a good two hours a day to write. This sounds like a dream to me, both the reliable napping and the daily time, though since my little dear one wakes up at exactly 5 am ON THE DOT every day I’ve really taken the “nap when the baby naps” advice to a new level.

I don’t even want to hear it from people who have families in town to provide free babysitting.

4) Ignore whatever can be ignored. My kitchen floor is sticky. After Harper goes to bed I could scrub it, or I could write down some notes for revision. I mean, it’s just going to get sticky again tomorrow. Which is too bad, because that’s pretty gross.

5) Get good at being interrupted. I have more thoughts and questions on this– the importance of drafting in your head while pushing a stroller, for example, and how this will all work when I have two babies (effortlessly, I’m sure) — but breakfast can only last so long, and duty calls.

Pictured: Harper reads my first book.

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