Multitasking is fundamental to motherhood, especially when you have multiple children. You must be able to change a diaper, while playing trains with the older child, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to the baby to keep him from rolling in his own feces, and hold the dogs at bay with one foot so they don’t lick the baby’s butt before you can get to it with the wipes. I’m not sure how parents with more than two children change diapers. Soft restraints? I might just let the dogs win. Either way, I’ve always been able to split my focus among several simultaneous tasks without letting my parenting suffer. In fact, I think I am a better parent for that ability.
But what happens when one of the tasks on which your brain is focusing doesn’t involve keeping your children clean, fed, clothed, and alive?
In the four months since I started blogging I’ve become very adept at playing Play Doh with one hand while feeding the baby with the other and reading Facebook on my phone in between bites. I take notes during playtime about funny things my three year old says and snap pictures for future blog posts whenever inspiration strikes. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I am always composing my next blog post.
On the one hand, writing helps me deal with stressful situations with a bit more grace than I would ordinarily muster. When the three year old decides to use the baby as a canvas for his artistic inspirations and the baby decides to use my carpet as a washcloth, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this will make a funny story one day. After I’ve figured out how to get glitter paint out of shag fibers, of course.
On the other hand, would the three year old have been able to take his paint from the kitchen table over to the play room, sit down on the floor, and paint the baby’s hair if I hadn’t been lost in my own artistic venture? It was way too quiet for those ten minutes I’d stolen away to write. I should have known better; I used to know better. Suddenly, my attention is being pulled in two very different directions.
As I’m writing about my children’s hysterical misadventures, they are busy living them. I sometimes look up from my computer to find them playing angelically together at the train table, sharing the trains, the three year old making the baby laugh with his engine noises. Everything is right with the world. I smile contentedly to myself because these are the moments that make having children so rewarding. I also know that I have ten more minutes, maximum, before the three year old starts pushing and the baby is trying to eat Thomas the Train. I know I should stop and enjoy the sweet moments while my babies are still young, but the quiet times are few and far between and the only chance I’ll get to hear myself think until bed time.
In that moment, I have to choose whether I want to be a parent or a blogger. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but it sometimes feels that way. There are times when I wonder whether I can do both without one aspect of myself suffering, and we know it isn’t going to be personal hygiene because that took a hit a long time ago.
Has my choice to become a writer negatively impacted my parenting style?
I’ve thought long and hard about this question, and the answer I’ve come up with is: No, I don’t think it has.
Life as a parent is a delicate balancing act wherein you have to juggle your children, your spouse, your friends, and hopefully that little something special that makes you who you are. That last piece is what writing has become for me. Since my first son was born, I’ve thrown myself body and soul into my role as a parent. I love being a stay at home mom and spending every second of every day with my babies. I’ve never regretted the decision to not work for a single moment. However, when you’re adrift in a sea of diapers and teething, it can be easy to forget to come up for air every now and then. After a while you start forgetting that you ever had a life or interests outside your family. That’s where I was four months ago.
After almost four years of being a parent, I was ready to reclaim a part of myself that had been hiding in the shadows, lost, but not forgotten: my dreams.
I’m still working out the logistics of parenting and blogging simultaneously, but it’s a problem I am determined to solve. I believe that my writing actually does make me a better parent because it teaches my children that it is important to follow your dreams. I want my children to be proud of who I am as a person, not just as a mother. I want them to have the courage to pursue their own passions and interests, whatever they may be, and to share them with me. Moreover, I want to feel good about myself and have them recognize that confidence and mirror it in their own lives. My writing makes me a better parent because it makes me feel better about myself as a person.
Until my kids go to school I will continue to stay up late at night, write during nap times and bathroom breaks, and lean on my family for support to fulfill my dreams. I will find a routine that allows me to participate fully in my children’s lives and then write about it afterward.
If that means having to clean up a few extra messes along the way, then I’d say that’s a small price to pay.
*This article originally ran HERE on Tipsy Lit’s Parents Week.