Death of a Writer Mama

This past week, I took Daniel to get registered for kindergarten. It hasn’t really hit me yet that come September, Daniel will be going to big-boy school, as we’ve been calling it. It hasn’t really struck me yet that within a few months, I’ll no longer have a preschooler on my hands, but an honest-to-goodness school kid. That means he’ll be doing homework, coming home from school later (although the school district’s idea of "full-day kindergarten" doesn’t quite match up to my definition, i.e. "What do you mean they’ll get out at 1pm on Mondays? That’s no different from what he does now.").  And it means I’ll probably be writing less and less about Daniel as he starts to gain his own identity.

The thing is, though, when was the last time I wrote about him in the Cafe anyway?

It’s not because I don’t have anything to say. Daniel’s been growing by leaps and bounds, and he amazes me everyday with what he says and does. And it’s not because I’ve been blogging less due to time issues (which, given the choice between blogging and working on a story that has a definitely deadline, which do you think I picked? Hmmm…been awful quiet at the Cafe, hasn’t it?). Actually, that is a good thing because it means I have been writing, which is always glorious. And yes, I have started actually writing out the 2nd draft of Willow as of this week. And boy oh boy, just the prologue alone is turning out GRRRRREAT!

I guess I haven’t been writing about Daniel because, well, I’m not really defining myself as a stay-at-home Writer Mama anymore.

When I first started writing seriously, I just had Daniel and was getting used to staying home without going out to the job or speaking to another adult about grownup issues. Where I lived, there really wasn’t much of anything else to do except do the whole ‘stay-at-home’ thing. Join playgroups, attend MOPS, go to parks, libraries, open gym, anything to get some sort of variety in my life. And at some point, I realized, hold on–I’m staying at home, raising our son. Didn’t I always say I wanted to do that and be a writer? Well, I got the at-home part down pat. Where does the writing part come in?

So I started taking workshops and going to writer groups and most importantly, I wrote. I wrote about everything I could think of. When I wasn’t writing stories, I wrote essays. When it wasn’t essays, it was blogs about my son. And since I was doing the whole Mommy thing, I considered myself a "Writer Mama", because at the time, it was my profession: writing and mothering.

But now, my profession has expanded to that of HR Assistant. In fact, ever since we’ve moved to Madison, I’ve gotten involved in a whole number of things that’s outside motherhood. I’m a co-worker, Wiscon book club member, scifi/fantasy writing group attendee. And a lot of what Daniel and I used to do, like going to the library or out to the gym to hang with other kids, is pretty much covered by him going to preschool. And Daniel is getting to the point where I do want to limit what I write about him, to protect his privacy (I can hear him now in 10 years—"Yeah, but what about all those potty training things you posted?" And I’ll tell him, "Kid, after all you put me through, be grateful I didn’t post pictures, you stubborn little—" and that will shut him right up.)

I haven’t stopped mothering. Oh, good gracious, no. I’m still involved in teaching and disciplining him. We still go to the park, and the library (though not as often as I like). He’s my pride and joy, and I take great delight in watching him play and work, when he isn’t getting on my nerves.

At the same time though, I’m finding that I deeply miss the community of Mommies I connected with because I had nothing else to do. Granted, if I hadn’t started writing, there would’ve been many, many days I would have been bored out of my skull. And I haven’t found the same kind of community here yet, though I’m sure they’re out there. In fact, I should start actively looking for a group that has working mommies in their midst.

And I know what you’re thinking. If I like doing the stay-at-home thing so much…nope. Not gonna finish that. Let me just take the liberty of rolling my eyes and saying, "Yeah, yeah, I know…"

In the meantime, I guess, "Writer Mama" doesn’t work for me exclusively anymore. Instead, I’m a "Part-time Working Writer Mama"? No, that sounds like I do it all part-time. "Working Writer Mama"? No, that implies that I’m a full-time worker. "Part-time Worker, 3/4-time Writer, Full Time Mama"?

Hmmm…gotta work on that….


Doing the Clean/Write Juggle (or how to be a part-time writer and a part-time worker mom and still have clean dishes to eat on…)

I’ve just realized that it’s been a long time since I wrote any personal posts.

Not that my life hasn’t been quiet. Far from it. Ever since we’ve moved to Madison, I’ve been getting involved in a lot of things, personal and work-wise. It’s funny–a year ago, then only things taking up my calendar was Mommy and Me stuff: playgroup, MOPS, the occasional get-together with another family. Of course, being here, we’ve been getting to know people, catching up with old friends, making new ones, that it feels like we’ve been doing things nonstop. Which isn’t the case, but you know…

Okay, the real reason I’m writing this is to whine about my apartment being dirty.

I can’t clean it. I just can’t. Not for the lack of trying…well, okay maybe it is for the lack of trying. But it feels like ever since we moved here our apartment’s been junky. I mean really junky. Junk on the table and floor and bed junky.

Part of the problem is that there’s so little space. Our house back in Roselle wasn’t the paragon of purity, but at least it was easy to spread the mess around (or maybe I’m beginning to candy-coat our memories of the place there). Here, make a mess, and pretty soon, we’re stumbling and tripping over it, or pushing it to the side so we can eat, or dumping it in baskets so we can sleep. There’s no place to put all the piles.

Another problem is I’m procrastinating on it. Back in Roselle, I had all the time in the world to clean, because I was a stay-at-home mom. I set a schedule for myself: clean in the mornings, write in the afternoons, cook in the evening. Granted, that didn’t mean that the house still didn’t look Martha-Stewart perfect, but at least I had plenty of time to clean, have fun with Daniel and write. It was easy and fun to juggle.

Here, I work in the mornings, so my cleaning schedule is shot. I have a time window of roughly 4 hours to write and/or clean. I thought that would be easy to handle: bring him home, read him a story, clean write until 5pm, then cook. Except after I put Daniel down, I get sleepy, so I take a nap. A 15-minute nap quickly turns to an hour. Suddenly, it’s 2:30p, and I haven’t done anything. So I get up to clean, but then Daniel, who’s been puttering around his room for about an hour or so, chooses that moment to fall asleep. And seeing that I write better when he’s asleep than not, I figure, well, don’t want to waste his nap; might as well start writing now while I get a chance. So I write, and I get into a good groove, and next think I know it’s 5:30pm. I’ve written a good deal, but the house is still a mess, and I still got to cook, and crickets are coming out of our windows and…

Well, you catch my drift.

I did try to reverse it. Tried to write after I put Daniel down, but I found that I mainly waste that time surfing and checking email. I don’t get down to serious writing until at least 3pm…so logically the time after I put Daniel down should be when I clean, but it doesn’t happen.

This isn’t working.

As I’m sitting here writing this, a thought occurs to me. If Daniel’s not falling asleep until two or even three o’clock, why am I putting him down at one?

I assumed it would be the most logical thing to do. After all, it’s right after he eats lunch. I usually pick him up just as the other kids in his class are going down for their naps. I figured that would be a decent time for him to go down too. But usually, we walk home, and by the time, he’s keyed up from the walk, so it takes a long while for him to settle down.

What if, instead of putting him down immediately, I wait an hour, use that time to clean, and then put him down around 2pm? It would be more in line in how we used to do his naps–I usually waited until 2pm then. I’d be able to make more noise if he’s awake. I can even have him helping me; doesn’t hurt to start instilling cleaning habits now. And with him up and running about, I won’t be tempted to take a nap right away. Even if I did take a nap at 2, that should still give me a couple more hours to write at 3, when I’m in my writing groove.

That might work.

‘Course, this is all speculation. I’ll have to try it out and see. But I hope it does work. If I have a decent clean space by the time I write, I feel better, which means I write better, which means I don’t have to rush about to cook, which means that I’m happier overall.

Now if I can get my hubby to do the dishes every once in a while, I got it made.