I like to think of myself as a good mum, mostly because the alternative is just too hard to bear, but the challenges of being a good mum and a writer are uncountable (or is that innumerable?), some days even, unfathomable. So how do we do it? How do we juggle the kids, the house, the day job, the hubby, time for ourselves? The answer is that we don’t. Or at least I don’t.
My writing was just starting to take off when I stopped to have two beautiful girls and when they were little, I was still stuck in must-write-all-the-time land. We had a three metre gate across the kitchen so I could sit at the dining table and write but still see the kids as they sat in front of the babysitter. I was in the same room but often on another planet, in another reality. I know this doesn’t make me a bad mum, just a passionate writer. It was the first time my eldest said she couldn’t play with the little one because she was too busy that made me feel kind of crappy. How many times had I said I was too busy to read a story? How many times should I have been on the floor playing with them instead of nutting out a scene? But then how many times did I miss putting them to bed because I was at work five nights a week? Sometimes I beat myself up, other times I just put it out of my mind and did what I had to do. Sometimes the five nights a week were like a holiday that gave me some of my sanity back.
As authors and mothers I think we need to find our own line in the sand and then choose. Do you stay on the safe side and put your dreams on hold for the few years they are little? Do you live on two minute noodles so you don’t have to work just so you can say goodnight? Or do you ride the line? I think if each and every one of us sat down and took a look at the hours in the day, we could find a happy balance. My kids are now at the age where they know I’m writing love stories because that’s what makes me happy. They are okay with playing outside while I try to organise a scene. They’re okay with getting themselves a snack or a glass of water so I don’t have to get up and out of the zone. Does it make me feel good? Not really. What makes me feel good is when my four year old tells me she wants to write stories too. Or when they wake in the morning and the little one jumps in the big one’s bed so they can read together. I have two independent, well adjusted and very intelligent children. All those times I wondered if too much television as toddlers would hurt them and they rarely watch the idiot box now and when they do, it’s because I ask them if they want to. Otherwise they read or make craft stuff or run outside. I tortured myself for nothing. But on the other hand my first book comes out this year and my family all know just how important this is to me. They forgive a little neglect. They ride out the days I don’t do the washing. They love it when I make mac and cheese after forgetting to take something out of the freezer for dinner.
So the point, I hear you ask? I have the best family who even when I’m not, make me feel like the best mum in the world. I drew my line in the sand and I’m so glad they’re standing there with me!