"I honestly don't know how you find time to write, blog and teach with all the things that you do.""You just amaze with all the publishing stuff that you're doing. I'm just too old to change my life." I get these emails and Facebook messages from other bloggers and authors who are in awe by how I manage to "squeeze" blogging, writing, teaching, mothering and probably something else I'm currently forgetting into a twenty four hour period. They all want to know my magic recipe for making it work. So when do my needs come first? When do theirs? In the midst of a push-pull life, I learned I wouldn't be able to take forward action without learning how to let go. "You make it look so easy," they clamor. But they don't know how I struggle to let go and just write with young children at home. Don't get me wrong. I love spending time with my children, but I also need a certain number of hours to write and prepare for authorship as a memoirist. I fought for that space two years ago with my then baby, and it's a constant struggle. I used to be able to write well at coffee shops, but now, I need the safety and space of my own house to write. In the back of my mind I'm always thinking, "What trouble could she get into? Who's with her? What's she doing? This situation got even further complicated on the weekends as my husband works in retail. It's usually just my eleven-year-old son, my two-year-old daughter and myself. So the pressure is on me to make sure the house is not falling apart and everyone is somewhat happy. I used to constantly hover over her making sure she wouldn't get into physical trouble. I used to be able to live for her naps, but now she hardly naps and so I've been busy trying to come up with ways to entertain her so she doesn't fuss and cry, "mommy, mommy!" I waited for the perfect nap-time, but that never came. So eventually, I learned Id have to make due writing in short chunks of time when she played by herself. I would ask my son to watch her. I tried waking up early to squeeze in quiet time. I even tried staying up late. Occasionally, another mother who also had a toddler would watch both of our children. How I wished that these small gifts of time to work uninterruptedly would be more frequent! One day, I just looked at the cards I was dealt and said to myself, "So what if the house gets messy? So what if you aren't with her right now? So what if you have to hire a babysitter? I came to the realization long ago, that if I wanted to change my life and take my message and books to the masses as a speaker, I would start with baby steps because that was all I could do. Look at all the well-known speakers and authors and yes, the author mommas too, and you'll learn from their stories. It took them years to put their dreams into action even though their Facebook photos show them enjoying the glamorous life. But even taking those baby steps wasn't easy. From behind the closed door, I often heard the voice of "fear" telling me to hang out with my kids. And yes, I felt guilty. I hear screaming and fighting and doors slamming. That's when I intervene. I need to nurse, change diapers and feed. Its always hard to switch between writing and mother and mother and writing the pressures on me.
One day, I just looked at the cards I was dealt and said to myself, "So what if the house gets messy? So what if you have to hire a babysitter?But I had to trust my instincts that writing made me a better person and thus, a better mother. I had to give myself the one thing I needed each day time alone and to write. After I was able to do that, I would be more present with them.
It takes a village!
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