Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't Fear the Time-Eaters: How To Write with Children Around

I have two kids.

Not big kids. Littler ones. My son’s eight, and my daughter just turned five. They both have special needs—that is, my son’s autistic (though he feeds, toilets, dresses himself) and my daughter has some communication difficulties, whether as a result of influence (older brother) or because she has autism herself. We aren’t sure yet.

Anyway. People ask me all the time how I do it. How am I building a writing career with two kids? This is the simple answer: I want it enough. I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, and I will make it a reality.

My kids don’t get as much Mom Time as they would if I were only a stay-at-home mom. That’s true. I work long hours, and sometimes I feel guilty, like I think every working mom does, but I have to believe it’s good for them to see their mother chase a goal.

People ask me how I get my kids to let me work. Part of it is that they’re used to my working. Another part of it is books, puzzles, tablets, even—gasp!—the television. They have plenty of things that they want to do on their own, or can do with minimal help, sitting next to me at the table where I type. I use a laptop on the dinner table so I’m available to them in a central location.

I also have a wonderful and supportive husband, who recognizes my need and helps me carve out time when he’s home from his own job.

My kids go to school during the day now, and I get to write. I have written until 3 AM when I had to be up the next morning. I have written before they get up, after they go to sleep, while they were awake. After a while you get used to the noise. I write in the waiting room while they have their therapy for the week, and I think about writing while I clean my house.

I am more than a little obsessed. But I’m not sure this is a career path for the casual in any case. I have stories I need to tell, and my sanity is pretty strongly tied to being able to do that. My kids need me sane, so I write. If you need to, you will. That’s flat.

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