Friday, August 2, 2013

What Living Life Looks Like (In Case You've Forgotten)

Last night, I jumped out of my computer chair, rushed over to my teenage daughter, grabbed a piece of her hair and said, "What is this? What would you call it? Oh...a lock! Of course!"  Then, I hurried back over to the computer and typed the words, "picked up a lock of her hair and gave it a gentle tug." (Or something that was much more brilliant than that. But you get the general gist.) My daughter said, "It's so weird having a writer for a mom."

A few minutes later (or was it hours?) she said it again. "It's so weird having a writer for a mom. I say something to you and you laugh about it like five minutes later." That's exactly how long it takes my brain to portal from the world of my novel back to reality, process what she said and react to it. This makes writing a long arduous process when the kids are home from school. My brain is travelling from world to world constantly, and doesn't really get much done in either place.

I'm sure it is weird having a writer for a mom. But it's kind of weird being a writer here during the summer with all the kids home. This morning, as I was searching for an idea for this blog post, my younger daughter made gingerbread pancakes all by herself, and I was only half aware it was happening, even though my computer is located in the kitchen. They were delicious, and no thanks to me.

Blueberries On Bush Stock Photo
By Rosemary Ratcliff
Stock Photo - image ID: 100100281
There were not nearly this many
blueberries on our bushes.
But last week, we went on a vacation to a lake house. My youngest son and I decided to go on a walk up the dirt road, and on the way he discovered a little wild blueberry bush. There were about ten ripe berries on it, and so we immediately started looking for more. He had better eyes for finding the bushes than I did, and pretty soon both our hands were full. We hurried back to the lake house, grabbed a red solo cup and started over. The berries weren't plenteous, by any means, and we made up a story about a bear who had eaten most of the berries but left a few of the best bushes untouched for the queen bear who would be coming along shortly. Hopefully that queen bear won't find out it was us who stole her berries.

Eventually we'd nearly filled the cup, and the horse flies had discovered our presence, so we hurried back, where we proceeded to make the most delicious blueberry tart you have ever tasted. It was exactly big enough for all eleven of us to have one big bite. Soon afterward, all the cousins took off down the road to search for more, but between the bear and us, there simply weren't many left. They did find a few blackberries though.

It was unplanned. It was spontaneous. It took most of the morning. But it was with one of my favorite people in the world. He's growing fast, and I don't want his only memories of me to be that I laughed at his jokes five minutes late. I don't feel guilty for that. I don't just want to be with my children. I want to be someone with accomplishments they can admire too. I don't know how to delineate writing time and family time here in the summer, especially with a terribly beautiful deadline looming on the horizon. But I'm trying.

How about you? Do you have any funny "It's so weird knowing a writer" stories? Or advice about how to quickly and safely traverse the perilous pathway between your worlds?


  1. Yes, I have some weird writer stories too--mine revolve around my kids asking permission for all kinds of crazy things when I'm writing. One winter the house was getting very warm--warm enough that it popped the writer's bubble I was in. So I went to check the thermostat--it was set to 90 degrees. I said to my kids, "Who did this?" One child said, "I asked you if I could raise the thermostat to 90, and you said, 'Yeah, sure.'" The other children backed up his story.

    1. That's an awesome one. I know I've got some like that--food the kids have gotten permission to eat without my conscious awareness, extra television viewing. But I can't those stories are lost in a brain fog.

  2. These were great stories! I don't have any "weird to be a writer" stories, but I certainly relate to those "Huh?" moments. My patient husband often has to repeat what he just said, because while he was saying it the first time, a scene fell into place, or a detail in a scene.

    I loved your walk in the country, discovering the blueberries adn making up a story about them.

    1. My husband isn't nearly so patient about moments like that. He's the hardest one to have around while I'm writing. The kids are used to it. Still, he puts up with a lot from me, so I'll concede that point.

  3. I'm right there with you, Melanie.

    I think parenting is a million different moments all wound up to one feeling. Your kids won't think you are a bad mom because several hours out of the day you were sleeping. Like everyday. You were sleeping and not looking at them, and not making an amazing memory for them to remember and remind you of when they write their memoirs or tell their therapist.

    I think if for the next twenty days, they happen to "be sent outside" a lot, or "Play at a friends house" or "watch Movies" they aren't going to notice that you aren't currently with them mentally. You aren't always going to be a full time writer, it's like nanowrimo, things will ebb and flow, you'll be making memories, and cookies, and shining your best mom ever medal, a few weeks from now.

    But I think it's important to teach your children that Mom's dream is worth working for. I think it's an important example to your daughter and to your son, that dreams take hard work and sacrifice.

    Yeah it's weird to be a writer, but aren't all moms weird anyway?

    1. All moms of teenagers are weird. Moms of younger kids are cool.

  4. What Sheena said. :)

    I've only recently started telling my kids what I am doing when I sit on the computer. Now I get a little eight-year-old who starts reading what I'm writing out loud over my shoulder and asking me if I'm still editing. But mostly, we spend the time that we are home fighting over computers. I'm not getting a lot of writing done, but I love having them home. Summer goes by way too fast.

    1. Yes it does. And the fact that there are only a finite amount of them has really it home this year. Enjoy them.


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