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Monday, October 26, 2009

Reflections of a stay-at-home working mom

Most women worry about how to combine work and family. It’s in our genes. Most of us were brought up either that it’s the woman’s “place” to stay home and raise our children or we have the “right” and “obligation” to help “bring home the bacon” with our significant others.

But how about those of us who are insane enough to try and do both? Be the stay at home and work. It’s not impossible, but it’s infinitely more difficult than just being one or the other. Especially when you’re just starting out and the “money” isn’t rolling in.

I love to write. In fact, if you ask my husband, I’m probably addicted to it. It’s pretty much my first waking thought (besides my kids) and my last. My characters are constantly talking to me, and scenes are always playing out in my head. It’s worse when more than one story line is playing in my head.

A friend of mine has touted me as the fastest writer she knows. She seems amazed that on top of raising a family I’ve found the time to write. My thought to that is it’s because the voices of my characters won’t shut up long enough to let me be in peace. Now that statement probably makes me sound like I hate it, but I don’t. I love the fact that they’re constantly there. They’ve pulled me out of the doldrums more often than not.

Take, for instance, this last week. Those characters probably saved my marriage. My husband decided at seven-thirty in the morning on a Sunday that we would refinish our parquet wood floors. Which meant re-sanding almost two thousand square feet of flooring. Not much you say? True. Until you factor in that everything we’ve managed to pack into the house since we moved in eight years ago had to be removed and covered to sit out in our carport. Which meant going through all the rooms and super cleaning them. Including the room of my ten-year-old son. Who probably has never cleaned his room (I won’t go into that story, but let’s just say he’s been grounded for a very long time from what I found in it).

Now if you ever re-sanded floors you know its long, boring, tedious work. Now add in a man with ADD, OCD, and a short temper. I’ve never been so frustrated in my life. I’m not a patient person. I’ve never claimed to be, but I think this last week has proven I probably have the patience of a saint. And that was because I kept running story lines in my head with Lily and Jackson (the newest characters I’m writing about).

It took us three 18-hour days to complete the floors. Then because we redid the floors, we (he) decided why not paint the walls, too. Not so difficult you say again? That’s because you don’t know my husband. He quite literally went around fixing every hole he could find and then his OCD took over and it had to be perfect. And not just perfect, but so perfect that he took almost all day doing it. A project that should have only taken a few hours turned into a nightmare, but I had my characters to keep me from going insane.

Now back to my original thought. I’m addicted to writing. I spend every chance I get glued to my computer keyboard. That means I’ve written four books in less than six months and have started three others.

Now how do I go about juggling time with my family and writing? I have no idea. I write when my son is at school and my daughter is napping and then way into the night after they’re sleeping. But let me tell you, it’s still not easy. Not when you want to finish a chapter or a scene and your kids are tearing up the house and your husband only smiles and says, “You wanted to be the stay-at-home mom. You deal with it.” So I do, and then go back to writing so I can finish the stupid scene. Then he wants your attention, because his anime is over so he’s deemed it’s time to spend time with you.

Don’t get me wrong, I love him to death, but there are days I wonder what single life might be like.

Moral of the story? Being a mother isn’t easy. Being a writer isn’t easy. Combine the both and watch your sanity fly out the window.