I am a writing mama. This one phrase pretty much sums up my whole life. Although, to be entirely honest, I spend a lot more time being Mama than I do writing. But that doesn’t change the fact that that’s what I am, a mother who writes and a writer who mothers. I’ve spent a lot of time in conflict over these two roles because I love both of them so much that I refuse to give up either. And some days I really wonder if I need to give up something! I usually give up my house. That’s the first to go. I can handle piles of laundry, but I can’t handle not writing for months (which has, in fact, been the case lately), and there’s no way I’m giving up my kids. None. Zip. Nada. Not gonna happen. The problem with being a writing mama, is that it often comes with a lot of guilt. I’m sure you can relate.
When your first child is born you are thrown into a new world full of laughter and tears, kisses and tantrums, tiny arms hugging your neck and dainty lips kissing your face. In the midst of this world is the knowing that that little person is someday going to grow into a big adult and it’s your job to make sure he or she transitions into that role with grace, or power, or at least without falling on their face. You hope beyond hope that you can give your children everything they need physically, emotionally, mentally, and the tools to find it spiritually. Heaven knows you don’t want them running through life thinking their some lonely, giant failure!
Now for me, I tend to feel the weight of that burden quite heavily, as I suspect most moms do. I’m not a helicopter mom to any degree, but if my kids experience any point of failure I tend to blame myself. If they are talking and pull out some idea that they’re not good enough or stupid or some negative term they’ve labeled themselves with, I immediately think I’ve done something terribly wrong. I’ll be honest that this is something I’m working on. It’s not healthy for them and it’s not healthy for me. Still, the fact remains that it is there. That being said, I also know that I can’t be living in a world where my entire life revolves around these tiny people in my world. Again, it’s not healthy for me and it’s not healthy for them. They need to be free to explore life, knowing that I’m there as a protector when they need it, but also knowing that I’m going to give them the space to make mistakes. They need to know that mom has value too, outside of having kids. They need to know that while I cherish them and will give them the best life I can, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up who I am so they can have it. Because then what happens? They grow up and do the same thing, and somewhere along the way my shining example of parenthood becomes a burden that they carry. This is something I know I don’t want to watch. This is where me being a writing mama comes in.
We’ve already established that I’m a writing mama. This happened about seven years ago shortly after the birth of my second child. I wasn’t a writing mama then. I was writing because I felt like I could. I didn’t realize it would take flight within me. Since then writing has gone from a small little spark to an insatiable fire that burns inside, telling me that I must get these words out! Any words. Just write! This is the part of me that isn’t okay with giving my all to be a Mama. This is the part of me that says “No. You have an identity. You are an individual. You are a strong woman with a brain, thoughts, feelings, desires, dreams, goals… life! Live, woman!” It’s the part of me that tells me that those children are my greatest blessing, and if I want to honor them then I have to have life outside of them. I can’t be tied to them for all of my successes and failures; I can’t be so caught up in them succeeding that I forget that I’m worth that success as well. Granted, success can be measured on many scales, one of which is the success of motherhood. I believe my greatest role is motherhood. These children come first and foremost, absolutely, and I also believe that it’s up to me to set the example that they can be wonderful, loving parents and still do what they love.
So while all of these rambling thoughts go on, there is also an underlying one that’s not so kind. This thought tells me that I’m delusional and that by pursuing the writing that I love, I’m doing my children a disservice. This is pulling me away from them. It’s keeping me from being fully present. It’s an escape so I don’t have to be present. It’s not fair to them to have a mom that chooses to write instead of constant play and book reading. For the rest of you writing mamas, you know what I mean. For those of you who don’t write, I bet most of you can relate to this on some level. You may not be writing, but are you crafting, are you on your cell phone, do you read books, do you have a job outside the home (yes, writing is my profession and I’m blessed to be able to do it from home), are you busy with church activities or volunteer work. All of these things are good, but underlying all of it, do you have guilt? I imagine if you do than you are experiencing something similar to me. It seems to be culturally ingrained that we must slave around these little creatures, forgetting that we exist in the process.
I for one am learning that I can’t live like that. In order to love my children then I have to love me, and part of loving me is doing what I love. I love my children. I love my life. I love my home. And I love myself. I hope that I can set an example for my children to follow. This example will show them how to respect themselves and others, how to love themselves and others. It will show them to see the world as something beautiful, as an adventure to be lived rather than something to be feared. It will show them that people are naturally good, and that most people just want to love and be loved. I want to be an example of faith and courage, and I want them to see that God truly is at the helm. And I think, in order for me to do this, I need to embrace the fact that I am a writing mama. I am. So I guess that’s what is. Right now, I choose to be a mom and right now, I choose to be a writer.