Mar 15 2012

Bye bye baby

My littlest little, Teagan the 19 month old, starts “preschool” this week.  And I am le sad.

I know that she’ll have fun; she loves people and songs and books and playtimes.  And the school–the toddler counterpart to my son’s Montessori preschool–couldn’t be better.  I know that she’ll learn lots and make friends.  I know that on the days that I don’t work at the library, I’ll be able to write and hopefully cut out the number of nights I work in Starbucks until midnight, freezing and yawning and listening to off-key homeless banjo playing.

I know she won’t resent me for having two jobs, for working to further my career, for choosing a safe place for her to explore learning and new faces.

I know this is the next stage for our family.

I know all babies grow up, even dimple-cheeked, feisty blond ones.

But she is my last baby, and leaving behind this last year and a half spent nursing/cuddling/crawling/playing is harder than I thought it would be.  Don’t get me wrong — I don’t want another baby.  It’s just that I want more time with this baby.  This blue-eyed, squishy, noisy, climby baby that wraps her arms around my neck like a koala bear whenever I pick her up.  This baby that says “mom-EEEE” like a mantra and mine and no and whoa as many times as she can breathe.
I wonder if she’ll miss me with half the intensity that I’ll miss her?

Aug 18 2011

WrAHMing it up

I’m part of an open WrAHM group on Facebook, started by my critique partner and play-date friend, Gennifer Albin.  A WrAHM is a woman who does certain things (not in any certain order):

Gestates offspring
Births offspring
Keeps offspring alive by feeding and keeping them away from outlets
Feels guilty about any time she spends writing, talking about writing, thinking about writing or writing about writing and not thinking about offspring.

Gennifer Albin has already posted several great and honest posts about the life of a WrAHM, so I won’t pretend to add much to it save for my own experience. (links)

A WrAHM is the same thing as a SAHM, with the impossible schedule of a WAHM, plus the guilt of a Working Mom-ahm.  Got all that?  Now say it ten times fast.

What I mean is, I think each lifestyle has pros and cons.  Time away from kids vs too much time with kids (oh, it’s possible.)  Using your degree to better the world vs using your second grade language arts to teach a toddler what a W looks like with ketchup on a plate.  Missing some crazily beautiful moments vs being there the first time your toddler hugs his little sister voluntarily.

But writing at home is kind of a tricky combination.  I manage to slip out a couple days a week to work part-time, but for the most part, I’m at home, being Mom to two kids under three from seven in the morning until nine or ten at night.  If there’s a lull, I might be able to get on Facebook or check my email, but for the most part, the laptop stays shut until both kids are asleep.  About once a week, I’m able to muster some sort of manic energy and work on my novel at this time.  The rest of the time, I drag a book into the shower and read for fifteen minutes.  (Yes, I read in the shower.  Don’t you?)

Then I fall asleep.

About twice a week, my dad or a friend watches the kids for a couple hours so that I can write when the sun is up and not at the expense of my sleep.  I try not to feel guilty imposing on people close to me for free babysitting, but it’s hard.  Babysitting isn’t easy, and what am I doing really?  Typing words?  That maybe aren’t that good?

One thing I miss about being Student Mom is the black and white-ness of it.  I had a job to do–read books by old, dead, white guys and write papers about them.  I had to write the papers.  I had to go to class.  By doing so, I fulfilled my duty as a Jayhawk and earned a walk down a hill in a black robe.

But writing a novel?  I don’t have to do that.  I won’t earn anything by it (not yet, at least.)  Is it the same thing as asking someone to babysit so that I can knit?  Or read Entertainment Weekly?  Maybe, but maybe not.  Most writers will tell you that it’s hard not to write.  Ideas and characters and narratives hover around you like a golden corona of inspiration–or a swarm of mosquitoes.  The swarm won’t stop.  Even if your fingers aren’t set to the keys, your brain is still writing, still dreaming and drafting and not stopping, even when you’re supposed to be de-gunking the high chair of smashed bananas.

Luckily, the people closest to me know this about me, and have accepted it.

The corona/swarm creates its own guilt, though.  Sometimes I find it hard to focus on the more mundane tasks of the day, like diaper changes and giving baths.  I’m anxious to get those things done, get those kids to bed so that I can start putting my ideas into the computer, but then after they’re asleep, I wish I would have been more patient, more engaged.  The mundane tasks are some of the most important, and it won’t be long before I’ll be completely irrelevant to my children’s hygiene and entertainment and lives overall.  And then I’ll cry.

Working from home, especially in a creative job, is a tricky balance.  On one hand, I’m a decently educated (okay, at a state university, but what the heck), decently literate woman who loves to write.  On the other, I’m a lady who knows how to use a breast-pump and who has Goodnight Moon memorized.  I want to enjoy both parts of my life with equal engagement and not spend summer wishing it were winter and vice versa.

From what I understand, balance gets even more difficult once the work earns real money and has Real World Deadlines and Concerns.  Then you can’t tip the scales more towards the kids because People Out There Expect Things From You.

I don’t have any advice and wise words about WrAHMing or WAHMing or any sort of mommying really.  I’m hoping at some point I’ll figure it out, and at some point I’ll have a this heroic moment of doing everything and doing it well.

But until then, I’m glad I have my other WrAHMing friends.