by Kristine Coblitz
Five months ago, I took on the most difficult and rewarding job of my entire life. In this job, I was given no training. No hands-on workshops or seminars to prepare me for my duties. In this job, success is measured by whether or not I can make it to the following day without having an emotional breakdown. In this job, my boss is someone with even less experience than I have, who expects me to get the job done without excuses. She expects long hours, even on the weekends, and doesn’t tolerate sick days. On the day I started, I had to agree to a lifelong contract.
I became a mom.
In addition to being a mom, however, I am also a writer. I like to refer to myself as a “Writing Mama” because for me, the two jobs are not mutually exclusive. In my life, one goes with the other.
But not everyone will agree.
I read a blog recently that discussed the movie industry’s portrayal of mothers who are writers as being narcissistic and emotionally distant. It’s even written that Daphne du Maurier, the acclaimed author of Rebecca, “could be aloof and distant to her children” when immersed in her writing. The media has painted a generalized picture of writing moms as troubled women who are so wrapped up in the non-reality of their writing that they are unable to raise their children in a normal, functional way.
Hmph! Being normal is overrated, if you ask me.
When I was pregnant, I had more than one person tell me that with the birth of my child would come the death of my writing career. “It can’t be done,” they would tell me. “It’s either one or the other. You can’t have both.”
Granted, my life transformed dramatically after my daughter was born, and I wasn’t exactly prepared for the changes. The first few months, my life was consumed with learning how to care for the little person who had invaded my life and my household. I didn’t write a word. I was too busy and too sleep deprived to even remember my name. I didn’t want to accept that the naysayers were right, but I started to doubt my ability to balance my parenting duties with my part-time technical editing job (which I need to pay for all those diapers and cans of formula), my marriage, and also my writing.
But then something happened. After about two months, I found myself getting irritable and moody, and it wasn’t just the surge of post-pregnancy hormones. Something was missing.
I had to write. But how?
I realized that I could squeeze in some writing time after my daughter and hubby went to bed. I was suddenly spending an hour every night at my computer when the house was quiet, and suddenly something amazing happened. My mood lifted. I felt like myself again.
Being a writer has helped me become a better mom, and being a mom has helped me become a better writer.
Five months into my new job as a writing mama, and I’m still going strong, averaging about three to five manuscript pages a night, even on those nights when I just want to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head. I’ve learned how to unplug the Internet and close my eyes to the dirty dishes in the sink, the last pile of laundry, and the dusty furniture, and just write. Even if the writing stinks (which it usually does).
For that one hour, I’m not just a mom. I’m a Writing Mama.
Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the Writing Mamas out there.