How I'm Finding Joy in Being a Mom and a Writer
Hey momma juggling lively littles with a burning passion to write. I see you.
I know you hurriedly type good lines and ideas in your notes app while filling a sippy cup with milk. I know you listen to writing podcasts while pushing your toddler on the swing. I know you think so hard about your Instagram strategy while washing dishes that you sometimes scrub the same dish for 20 minutes.
I know because I’m one of you too.
This mommahood-and-pursuing-a-passion life is a constant struggle to fulfill two of God’s commands: love your people and pursue your calling. The elusive “balance” is overwhelming.
And, if we allow ourselves, we can become flooded with the onslaught of not only guilt but also excuses to quit when we have more ideas than time.
Before my son, I had more time than ideas. I was newly married with a low expectations job, hungry to explore all the possibilities. The dream, am I right? But, in reality, it was discouraging. I knew that I wanted to write, but fear and insecurity halted my curiosity so hard that I couldn’t even come up with ideas.
After many a tearful conversation with my husband, I realized that if I wanted to move past my fears and get ideas, then I needed to reframe my thinking. I needed to change my mindset. I wasn’t going to find those ideas sitting in front of a blank computer screen. I needed to live life. I needed to make friends, start conversations over coffee, get a new job (or seven--but that’s a story for another day), put myself in hard but meaningful situations at church, pray a lot more.
And slowly, in time, I began to see my life as my art. Writing was just an extension of what life was teaching me. If I wasn’t living, then I wasn’t making art.
Fast forward several years later and now I have plenty of ideas. (I've got at least 10 business ventures I hope to try to tackle in the next few years.) Except now, I have far less time.
I stepped into motherhood with a mask mandate and warnings against relatives hugging my newborn. Motherhood in a pandemic is weird. I don't have anything else to compare it to, so I don't know if it's harder than a normal transition; but, all the same, I’ve struggled with the new time restrictions and constantly changing schedule.
My once eight hour days of freelance freedom have been scrunched into two nap times, assuming I can keep my eyes open and mind alert.
But I’m learning that what got me through the drought of ideas can get me through the drought of time. My identity as a mom does not work against my identity as a writer.
My life is my art.
And the paradox I'm discovering is this: because life is so full, this season may actually be the best of my life to write, distractions and all. The interruptions and daily challenges are refining me, teaching me, growing me.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King makes a similar argument. He describes an ideal writer’s conference complete with a cabin in the woods, lunch served on your doorstep at the exact moment of hunger, and lively conversation.
"I imagine [this environment] appealed because it’s so far from my own experience, where the creative flow is apt to be stopped at any moment by a message from my wife that the toilet is plugged up and would I try to fix it, or a call from the office telling me that I’m in imminent danger of blowing yet another dental appointment. At times like that I’m sure all writers feel pretty much the same, no matter what their skill and success level: If only I were in the right writing environment, with the right understanding people, I just KNOW I could be penning my masterpiece.
"In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into a oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters….”
A time will eventually come when I no longer squeeze writing and marketing into the cracks of nap time. But I don't want to miss the lesson of this season; I don’t want to let my writing dictate my life. I want my life to dictate my writing.