I used to really admire stories of women who’d get up at 5 am, before their kids woke, to write their novel – banging out 2000 words before breakfast or staying up into the wee hours to write another chapter.
Actually, those stories made me feel completely inadequate.
When my kids were young, and admittedly I had half a football team, they ran me ragged all day. The best I could manage when I fell into bed was reading half a chapter of my library book before drifting off to sleep, muttering about finding the weird smell in the front porch (inevitably another rotting lunch box.)
My grandson is here to stay this week.
It is an exhausting pleasure. Today we have played dominoes, and Perfection – that 1960s pop-up game where you need to put all the pieces in place while a timer hysterically ticks before exploding, the pieces disappearing, with much squealing, under the sofa. Then we made rainbow toast – food colouring diluted in milk painted onto the bread before toasting, the colours surviving even under burnt toast. Then we watched a movie, made more toast, played Top Trumps, hunted for slugs in the garden and picked courgettes for lunch. This was all before 11 am.
I am exhausted. Happy, delighted with the company of a six-year-old who is equally delighted with slugs and snails and his ridiculous grannies tales, but I am exhausted.
And there is no room to write.
Granddad and the boy go off to take the car to the carwash and, while I whip around tidying up and have a quick shower, I think of something to write. I’ve just pulled the laptop from its case when they bundle back in hollering about wiper blades, dogs stuck in the woods and brandishing a new toothbrush.
Later, thinking the boy settled, I sneak the laptop out of the case only for it to have no battery. By the time I’ve found the plug the boy is back, reminding me that he needs regular feeding and off I go to make pesto pasta.
Later still, I try again but this time a book is produced and a request to read a story is impossible to resist.
So many times, as a mum, I wished I could be a writer. I believed the reason I wasn’t was because I was thick, or maybe I didn’t want it enough. I’d see those women saying that they’d wanted to write, so they simply made time to do it – like it was that easy. ‘If you couldn’t make the time then maybe it was not for you’, they declared. I went to a writing workshop that demanded a full hours a day writing, or I wasn’t taking it seriously.
I felt more than inadequate. Maybe I didn’t want it enough. Maybe I wasn’t good enough.
Now I call bollocks!
Carving out a space to have a pee in private is a major feat with the grandson here, let alone time to think about stories or words or thoughts or feelings.
And then there is the time to sit down and write.
For me writing just doesn’t work in dribs and drabs, five minutes grabbed at the edge of the kitchen table. And it was hard to be creative with a kitchen table full of discarded homework, dirty dishes, half packed lunch boxes and assorted Pokémon cards, Lego, reading books and hairbands.
The luxury of kids having all grownup is that I now have the time and the space to write.
Now I have the time to look back and see how impossible it was to meet the demands of ‘having it all’. Virginia Woolfe and her ‘room of her own’ and an independent income and a cook and a cleaner, where totally spot on.
And actually, I was being creative. I was raising tiny humans and doing an Ok job of it too. That’s work to be proud of.
If you are reading this, worrying that you too dont seem to find the time to climb Everest, or design a fashion collection or write a novel while children fill your house and you head, can I just say thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read my writing and reassure you that you are doing OK. That creativity is there, stewing away until you are ready. Dont compare yourself to anyone elses journey – some of us just need a little longer to stew.
Now I … Well I would say more but there is a small boy banging on the toilet door demanding to be fed – Again???? –
6 thoughts on “Having it all.”
I really needed to read this today! Feeling guilty after taking a 6 months writing hiatus due to a rough pregnancy, a toddler at home and a 25-hour-a-week freelance gig. Thank you for the kind words, they were exactly what I needed to read. Have fun with the grandson!
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It’s hard not to put that pressure on our selves. And demanding that we do more minimises how fabulous we are already being.
Thank you for taking time from your busy life to read my writing ❤️❤️❤️And know yiu are already doing enough ❤️
You paying such a vivid picture – I’m glad you write now and look forward to these stories. Thank you x 🙏
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**Paint not paying ffs 🤦♀️
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It is lovely knowing you like reading them 💃🏻