I was on my way to New York a couple of weeks ago on the 6 AM flight, looking ahead to a day of meetings. I left my five-year-old daughter back in Florida, which I rarely do. So she was very much on my mind — mainly because she put the screws to me for a full 24 hours before I got on the plane. Why do you have to go, Mommy? Just cancel your meetings. Why can’t you work from home like you always do? Why can’t I go, too? Don’t leave me! I needed to carry an extra suitcase to tote all my guilt with me.
After the plane was in the air, I opened my pen case to retrieve one of my favorite Marvy Le Pens, planning to take advantage of a very quiet two hours on the plane. But I found all my luscious black inky pens gone, replaced with about twenty well-used crayons.
If you ask my daughter what I do, she’ll tell you that I’m a mommy writer. She’ll also tell you that she wants to be a mommy writer when she grows up (though she also wants to be a bee keeper, a snow shoe instructor, and plans to run a homeless shelter). And I love the idea of that, the mommy writer. She knows I’m her mom first, and everything else second. And I’m doing it all happily enough that she wants to do it, too.
But the mommy writer balance is not an easy one. If you want to do either well, each enterprise requires creativity, a heart full of love, boundless energy, and a serious dedication of time. Before my daughter was born, nothing else ever rivaled my desire to write. When she arrived on the scene, she quickly became the center of my universe, everything else revolving around her. Finding a way to be the best mommy I can, and to be the best writer I can is a day-to-day balancing act.
Of course, every working mother knows the difficulty of straddling two worlds that exclude each other. We make choices on a daily basis, and some of those choices are painful. I have it easier than most. My work is demanding, but my time is flexible. And, once upon a time, I wrote while working another full time job. So I’m no prima donna; I can write anywhere, any time, under any conditions. It’s a skill that comes in handy for the mommy writer.
I couldn’t stop being a writer when I became a mother. But now, I am a mother before everything else. And what that means is that when I’m on the road, my girl is usually with me.
When I sit down to write (if she’s not in school) she might be coloring beside me. If she’s sick or if she has something special going on at school, or it’s my day to be lunch mom, I write after she goes to bed or before she gets up. And if I find myself on a plane with nothing but crayons, I guess I can write in Jazzberry pink as well as in any other color. ‘Cuz, mommy writers, that’s how we roll.
I’d love to hear about the creative ways you balance work and parenting. Comment here or on my Facebook page!
What I’m reading: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
What I’m reading to Ocean: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
What I’m listening to: Nothing new or especially interesting. Any suggestions?