I wrote an essay on parenting and went back to realize that it worked with writing too. If I change a few choice words, my writing is basically the equivalent of raising children. Which I guess makes sense. Stories run around naked sometimes, often need a spanking, and sometimes make me question my existence, but they also make me feel alive and remind me of the simple things much like my children.
Bold words=talking about my writing
(parenthesis)=original text on parenting
If I could choose one word to describe writing (or parenting), it would easily be: chaos. Balancing my own mental health with my stories’ (children’s) needs to explore boundaries while also guiding them through life sometimes seems like an unattainable goal. I’ve been painted with poop, vomited on, hit in the face, and the fun doesn’t end there (I think this still fits, don’t you? haha).
I often wonder, “How can I be a good writer (mom) while being strict enough to make sure my works (kids) behave and also give them enough freedom to become who they need to be?” I think it’s natural for many authors (mothers and fathers) to second guess themselves. What works for one story (kid) does not always work for another. Advice is nice but often too vague or inconsistent to offer realistic solutions. It can be difficult to know where to turn.
Now that I have numerous published pieces (three children), the main thing that allows me to laugh at myself and smile when jelly gets smeared on my pants is that I’ve embraced the insanity. In order to find balance in life, I try not to make empty threats, do my best to keep active, learn as much as I can, accept my limitations, and listen to my stories (kids).
No matter how much I do not want to have to punish myself by punishing my work (kids), my little mini-mes are tricky. These tales (kids) are smart enough to smell fear, and worse, pushovers. If we go out of the house and I am losing my mind trying to manage them, i.e. writing at a coffee shop (my children), they know I will abort mission if they do not behave.
No one wants to leave a restaurant or grocery story due to unruly idea (kids), but I feel it is more important for them to know that their actions have consequences. Consideration for others is also a concern. When my husband and I go out for date night, we are trying to escape whiny voices and a messy house. If my stories (kids) act up and ruin my time out, they are not allowed to come next time. I also make it a point to discuss the situation with them and explain why I am less eager to take them out if they disturb me.
Discipline comes with stability. It does not have to be about punishment, it can also be enforced through regular practices. A routine allows your writing (children) to know what to expect. Some flexibility is needed, but part of raising happy healthy stories (kids) is maintaining an active lifestyle.
Writers (Children) get bored too easily. The mental and physical health benefits of movement and exercise combat ADHD, depression, obesity, and elevate cognitive functions. When my new ideas (youngest is) are having an explosive day and they are (she is) running circles around me, I get overwhelmed. I often have to take a breath and think about what activities we have been doing. It is usually a result of us slowing down.
Exercising our bodies gives life more spice, but it’s only a part of the job. Another main aspect of storytelling (parenting) is learning. When I needed to write (my eldest came out) a born girly-girl my knowledge of how to throw a ball feels (felt) useless. My tomboy lifestyle left me feeling inadequate and unprepared. I knew nothing of French braids, and the history of ballet. Balling hair into a bun nearly defeated me.
Despite my own deficiencies, I desired to help my main character (daughter) do the things she loved. I bought books, watched videos, and learned a few tricks. There are times when I still want to cry over a lumpy hairdo, but I have at least learned to keep going and improve my abilities.
Continuing to learn and change with your work (children) is not easy. It leaves little recovery time between shifting interests. My newer stories (middle child has) have gone from gymnastics, to soccer, dancing, swimming, basketball, and now they’re (she’s) begging to try out karate, in a proverbial sense at least.. It’s exhausting for me, but the excitement is well worth it.
I do what I can and ask for help when I need it. Like most writers (parents), the organizations that hold events and activities are always seeking volunteers. I find it impossible to avoid. When taking on volunteer work or carpool shifts, schedules get tight and I have to remind myself to know my limits.
This past holiday season I ended up with seven volunteer shifts, while coaching new writers (a basketball team of five year olds), on top of forty plus hours of work, in addition to writing and editing gigs and volunteer shifts at a local animal shelter. This was all during the second trimester of my third pregnancy. No matter how much I wanted to be the hero of my writing (kid’s day), I ended up having to take time off.
While balancing activities and home, I lost my ability to communicate properly. Things moved so quickly I got sick. My husband stepped in. He sat with me and reminded me that it’s okay to slow down. This made it easier to open up and set aside more time to myself (talk to the kids), and really engage in conversations over all my (their) thoughts and trouble, which aided me(bonded us further).
The stories(Our children) don’t care if we are perfect or not. They just want to be read(feel loved). If I can get readers (provide that), then I must be doing something right. To focus on the love and relax when things go wrong, I strive to balance discipline with staying active, while being open to new ideas, accepting the limits of my schedule, and listening to my stories (kids) and others. Being a writer (parent) is often chaotic and exhausting, but the bonds we create with these ideas (little lives) are stronger than daily frustration.