Writing is harder as a parent. It’s also more necessary.
Two years ago, I used to be a different person. Being a great lover of sleep, I would go to bed by 9 p.m. most nights. I would religiously shower every morning. I would spend free time watching Tv, making crafts, dinking around on the internet.
I don’t do those things anymore–at least, nowhere near as frequently. Since my second son was born nearly two years ago, I’ve changed.
Though my love of stories and writing had been steadily growing, it was summer 2012 that something shifted. When my son was still a tiny newborn, I made a promise to myself to write something every month. A friend of a friend started an online mag and I wrote reviews for the site, as well as pieces for a friend’s book and a very long Christmas letter. Often I wrote while bouncing on an exercise ball, the baby napping in his carrier on my chest.
The following spring I began revising a novel I wrote for a fiction contest. I stayed up late at nights, finding something I loved more than sleep (imagine!). I gave up my sacrosanct showers. I watched Tv less, did other crafts less.
It’s hard to find the time and energy to write when you’re a parent. The world interfers, shrieks, spikes a fever, demands more juice, and smears poop down your shirt. You’re tired at night, you’re tired during the day, you’re tired…Well, you’re just tired. But the change happened within me because I realized it’s so necessary to make that time and energy as a parent–to have something that’s just for you, that doesn’t involve Dora the Explorer or finding ways to make your kids eat veggies. That thing might be writing, like it is for me, or running marathons, scrapbooking, or creating memes of raccoons saying funny things.
You have got to find that thing, admit to that thing, and hold on to it tight. Right now I’m typing this as my kids nap, both of them sick with a nasty virus and having spent the morning taking turns screaming–because they were congested, or simply because the other one screamed.
You don’t need a special room or desk to do your thing. You don’t need hours. You probably don’t even need energy– as when you find that thing, it should give you energy. You just need little pockets of time, little nooks and crannies, little lifelines.
Sometimes I wonder how much I could be writing if I didn’t have kids. All the novels I could have penned by now, all the social media I could have mastered. But I’m not sure I would have written a word. Parenting has made it trickier to do what I’m passionate about, but my sons have made me who I am today. Even in the moments like this morning when the shrieking and such becomes overwhelming, I look at my sons and often think, like The Beach Boys song, God only knows what I’d be without you.
And being a mom, spending most of my life devoted to others, has made writing so much more important, so much more precious, that I’m willing to forgo sleep and hygiene.
So what’s your thing?