Quite early this past Saturday morning, I was in Writer-Beast-Mode with a deadline dangling over my head, typing busily on my laptop while my eight-year-old twirled around me, talking nonstop as he’s known to do. I was half-paying attention to him, nodding and smiling, certainly not 100% present, I admit. Until he said this and my world came to a screeching halt:
“I liked it better before you were a writer. You weren’t on the computer so much. You spent more time with me.”
My heart broke into jagged shards and Mother’s Guilt settled in my bones like a sickness. Doubt ran through my mind as I wondered if I was doing a disservice to my children with my writing. Do I ignore them? Are their memories of me going to be the back of my head, typing on a computer? What have I done?
And then a giant dose of clarity splashed me in the face and brought me to my senses.
I’m not going to shame myself for working my left ass cheek off as an author while working my right ass cheek off as a mother (oh how I wish that analogy were less figurative and more literal). My husband and all our friends work nine-to-fives and don’t feel guilty (nor should they) about the time they spend working. Sure, they might wish they had more time with their kids…but the point is, they don’t feel ashamed for working. Why should I?
And why aren’t my kids giving their dad grief for the amount of time he spends at the office? I’ll tell you why: because this arrangement is all they’ve ever known. They’ve had me front and center, attending to their every need for the first decade of their lives. And that’s exactly what I wanted and a beautiful gift I’ll never stop being grateful for, but I have something else now that also requires a lot of my time and attention. I try to get it all done while they’re at school, but that’s not always possible. I pull just as many twelve-hour days as my husband.
I am a writer and independent author. My office happens to be in my home, where I research, promote, network, edit, revise, read, and create. I am the CEO, president, founder, secretary, treasurer, and sole proprietor of my company. But most days, I’m lucky if I get two solid hours of writing in because my other full-time job as momager (I’d list what duties that entails, but you all know what they are, and I’m not too fond of 5,000 word posts) starts the second I wake up and doesn’t end until I lay my head against my pillow at night.
I hope my hard work and determination teaches my children that success doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have to work diligently, with tenacity and resolve. You have to make sacrifices and compromises. You have to believe in what you’re doing more than anyone else. I want them to see that a mom (or dad) can be a parent as well as have a career.
I pulled my son on my lap, kissed his little cheek, and told him that spending time with my family was my favorite thing in the world. I asked if he’d like to go with me to walk the dog, because I felt like he wanted some one-on-one time with me.
While my son’s comment did get my attention – and will motivate me consider if what I’m working on that moment can perhaps wait until later – I won’t stew in Mother’s Guilt because my work doesn’t involve leaving the house to go to an office all day.
I am a hard-working WAHM (work at home mom, case you didn’t know) and I’m pretty damn proud of how I’ve juggled both jobs.
Now scoot over kiddo, momma’s got books to write….