Mommy/writer…

While Mose is in the bath and Lew is busying himself with sucking on his blanket and considering sleep…I want to take a second to post about the bewildering and wonderful life I have at present.  It’s pretty weird, how split it feels.

See, right about the time I got knocked up, I also signed the contract for my first book, Half/Life.  And so it was that I quit my job and took a baby on a book tour. And so it was that childcare became a requirement for writing time.  And so it was that my kids got inextricably connected to my work, as they were both the justification for quitting my job (which didn’t pay enough to cover the childcare) and also my chief distraction for writing.  So the boys are kind of my vehicle, my motivator, my excuse.

No surprise I’m now a children’s author.

Maybe every parent/writer feels exactly like this, but in my case, I find it hard, sometimes, to transition from place to place, head to head. I can’t ever fully be where I am.It makes life wonderful and interesting, but it’s also a confusing identity.  I find I’m perpetually putting on/taking off hats.  Shifting my brain as I tear off a spaghetti-spattered t shirt to slip, sweaty, into a dress and dash (sweaty) to a reading.  Forgetting to take off a bjorn as I race, late, to the classsroom.  I go to professional events and end up talking about my kids.  And likewise, trying to talk to the mommy-world about my writing.

I thought about getting biz cards made up that just said, “MOM”.

Today I’m feeling this more strongly than usual.  It’s been 2 months since I had any babysitting, and 12 hours a day without a break is enough to force the writer-brain into the shadows.

But then… last night, I got to go to Wordsmith’s with the lovely Melissa, for a book launch for the Daily Candy Lexicon. I wore clean clothes and talked to grownups.  I drank a cocktail.  It was so much fun!

And then this morning I was up to take the kids berrying (also fun!), and by lunchtime was picking up poop , WHILE holding a kid on my hip and somehow also gripping a cheese sandwich.

And what I find is that while the transition from grownup-writer into mom is immediate, the transition from mom to grownup-writer takes about an hour.  I leave the house, take out the Oy Baby CD, breathe deeply, drive to event in silence, park, walk in, sip wine, and then– about 45 minutes later, I feel like I’ve finally arrived.

Whereas the second I get into the car after playing grownup writer, I feel panicked by my absence at home, and drive like a demon.  I’m a mom again the second I leave the other grownups behind.

And I wonder… I wonder how the other writer moms do it?  How they find the inner silence to write with kids underfoot? How they manage to “arrive” at the party without the need to talk about their children?

How do *you* divide your life?

(yeah, yeah, Em– I’m going to post pictures of the berrying. Soon as I figure out the iphoto)

4 Responses to “Mommy/writer…”

  1. john kuttenberg Says:

    Laurel, my wife and I just downsized, my three boys have all moved out, one got married three weeks ago. Your two will be grown and gone before you know it. You are really breaking your tush to do justice to both your calling and your children. In the end you will be grateful for all the effort you have put in. Someday I am certain the boys are going to realize all you did to make a wondeful home for them and will thank you in ways you’ve never dreamed of … and with that they will have great pride in what you managed to accomplish professionaly. Keep up the good work!

  2. Emma Says:

    thank you for the photos. they made my day. I love Lew’s hair.

  3. Jacqui Says:

    Seriously, do we have the same life?! I signed the contract for my first picture book while nursing my first and was pregnant with my second for the book tour. I quit my teaching job (“indefinite sabbatical”) and became a mother and writer.

    Woman, I bow in admiration of your fortitude. I adore my kids. They are fabulous kids. But two months without babysitting and I would be blogging about dancing zebras and the pretty voices talking to me in my own head.

    The way I work it out is this: I sign my son up for the number of hours I can afford given what writing I’ve sold the year before (my oldest goes to public school now, so she’s not an issue). I’m lucky to be able to do it that way, I know.

    The transitional dilemma is bigger. Like you, I can transition into “mother” in a split second. The other way is harder. But sometimes even having day care, I arrive at the page so fracking frazzled from getting everyone out of the house in the morning that it takes me 20 minutes just to see straight.

    When you come to Ann Arbor for our date, you can talk about whatever identity you want…

  4. Talia Says:

    I also can’t go that long without a break. I can’t even go one week, and I only have one. I’ve learned, or perhaps it’s just a phase in my writing at the moment, to squeeze it in amongst the chaos. Of course, I write just poetry, which involves a lot more thinking and reading and less actual composing than prose, but when I just finish a great book, that’s when I pick up the pen…even if I have to run into the kitchen to see if the water’s boiling yet and peek in Hadley’s room on my way back. I never thought I’d be able to do that.

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