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….

Cleaning + Writing = Happy Writer Mommy

Last week’s experiment turned out to be a success: doing cleaning with Daniel instead of putting him down for a naptime right away works a whole lot better than coming home, putting him down for a nap, then trying to write right away.

When Daniel and I get home, the first thing I do is put on music to clean to. Before, when I brought Daniel from school, we would immediately go into Quiet Time. So after I told Daniel to lie down, I had to sneak around and keep the apartment quiet. Not conducive for cleaning. I like to play loud music. It gets me into a cleaning mood. Now that I have Daniel with me as I clean, it’s not that big a deal. Last week, I played Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child podcasts, and Daniel got into the swing of cleaning along with me…

…Which showed me an unexpected benefit of all this: I’m teaching my son to clean. Before, he would sit before the TV while I’ll be doing the cleaning thing (then again, that was back when we were trying to sell the house in Roselle. Oy…still makes my head hurt thinking of it). Now, I give him small tasks to do. For instance, I let him set a timer for how much time we spend cleaning a room (5 minutes, thanks to FlyLady). I let him run and pick up stuff off the floor to see how fast he can do it. The kid is even cleaning his room now. To be honest, I’m pretty impressed by how much he wants to help. I know in a couple of years, it will be like “Maaaaaa….why do I have to clean noooooowwwww?” So I’m guessing I need to lay in all the groundwork I can.

It usually takes us roughly 30 minutes to get the apartment straightened out, then we do the whole Quiet Time routine of reading a story and putting on soft music to listen to. Then, I can concentrate on my writing, which, at that point, I’m ready to do.

I don’t feel like I’m wasting time anymore. I don’t feel like I need to rush to clean the kitchen before cooking. Overall, it makes for a very happy writer mommy.

A quick update on my latest projects: reading the 1st draft of Willow has finally taken off. I’ve been doing a readthrough of two chapters per week so far. Last week was really nice because I was able to combine two chapters into one, which will hopefully cut down on the word count some. I just need to remind myself that all I’m doing is reading through the story and making notes on what to edit. I’ve been tempted to start editing right there, and I don’t want to do that. Read first, edit later.

I’m also part of a MegaRecap for the Agony Booth. This is where a bunch of writers review a movie 15 minutes per writer. I’m not going to reveal here what we’re reviewing, but let me just say that after this movie, I will never watch a SUV commercial the same way again. (Oyyyy….) Stay tuned for when that gets released.

Now if you excuse me, it’s been a very, very busy weekend. I’m going to bed.