Written by Michelle Wright
You know what’s hard? Being a mom and a writer. Correction: being a mom and a writer
who actually gets things done.
For example, two of my kids are complaining loudly at each other as I write this. One of them will barge in on me to complain about it, as if I didn’t hear their entire interaction from the other room.
Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m a mom of four, I work part-time, and I’ve somehow managed to
finish and publish a novel. If you’re a tired mom who’s trying to write something and also keep your sanity intact, I hear you!
Oh, by the way, the problem my two littles were having just now: they couldn’t both fit
in the carboard box they were playing with—the box they emptied the diapers out of so they
could use it like a boat.
This is the thing about my kids: they never have enough toys, but they prefer a cardboard box to toys anyway, and video games trump everything.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. They’re not bad kids. They’re actually the sweetest
little monsters. I have one daughter and three sons, and they’re seven, five, three, and one. Which means I am busy, busy, busy. When my daughter was a toddler, we were spoiled with a smart, precocious child who understood when mommy wanted to write, who went to bed when she was supposed to, who loved having a baby brother. She’s still like this, but with a dose of sass.
My oldest son was a darling baby who never spit up and slept really well (he’s still my
best sleeper and I wish the other kids liked sleep as much as he does). He’s a sweet little guy, but his mood depends entirely on how much sleep or food he’s had.
When we were expecting my third, my midwife liked to tell me, “The third child is a wild
card.” And I shrugged it off, until we had the third child. He liked to play. He didn’t like sleep.
He started the terrible two stage young and stayed in it forever! He’s overly social, friendly, a
little too in your face. He basically forces his friendship on others. He also really enjoys feeding people. Definitely a wild card who’s too cute for his own good.
And the baby is just a baby that we’re trying hard not to spoil because he is our last child.
He spends a lot of time with my three-year-old, who likes to sneak him snacks and wrestle him, despite the many times I’ve told him he can’t sit on the baby. In his defense, #4 doesn’t seem to mind.
Speaking of wrestling, this is a common occurrence in my house. I don’t know if it’s a
boy thing (because my daughter does it too), or just because my kids have absolutely no personal space, but they seem to find this acceptable. One minute I’m allowing them a show, which allows me 30-60 minutes of interruption-free writing time. The next I hear an awful lot of noise for kids who are supposed to be quietly watching a show. I go check on them and two of them are wrestling on the floor, while the other does parkour on the couch.
Or they like to play video games, which gives me an undetermined amount of
interruption-free writing time. But they have varying skill levels, which typically means my
three-year-old will ask for help, whine that he can’t do it, then cry because they aren’t helping.
Somehow video games turn off my five- and -seven-year-old’s ears. Then it’s up to me to either find #3 something else to do, or help him with his game. Which is how I end up playing a video game rather than writing. But it makes my son happy, so I can’t really complain.
And then there’s free play, in which they’re supposed to entertain themselves. This really
just means they’ll run around, trash the place, be super noisy, and interrupt me. Free play is when they’re suddenly going to need a snack once a minute. And new batteries for all the electronic toys. And they can’t find the very specific thing they want and Mommy has to help (aka they won’t look without me).
It’s also when my three-year-old needs to paint. I love it that he likes to paint. What I
don’t love is that he wants to messily pour out the colours himself. I don’t love that he wants to paint with the brush cleaning water just as much as the paint. I don’t love that he’ll get it on himself and everything around him. I don’t love that sometimes he decides to paint without my knowledge.
One day he came to me saying he needed new clothes because his were covered in paint.
I was unaware that he was painting, since I had gone upstairs for two seconds. He face was also covered in paint, and I finally got out of him that he had taken a sip of the paint water. I’m grateful for a strong immune system and non-toxic paint. But also, that couldn’t possibly have tasted good??
You would think that during school hours might be a better time to write, since my two
older kids are at school. But all that means is I’m left with the two needier kids and don’t have my older ones to help entertain them. And as I said, my three-year-old is a social child, which means he misses his brother and sister during the school day, and the baby doesn’t exactly play the way #3 wants him to.
That leaves evenings after they’ve gone to bed.
That's when the magic happens, right?
Sure, let’s go with that.
Late nights is when I get more writing done because they’re supposed to be asleep. Even then, you never know. Sleeping children are like bombs waiting to go off. One night, they’ll take turns waking me up multiple times and three of them will pee in the bed. The next, they’ll all sleep soundly until an appropriate time in the morning and no one will pee the bed. So, it’s risky to stay up late writing when I never know what kind of sleep I’ll end up getting when I finally go to bed.
But those are my options. Write during the day and get interrupted a lot because someone
needs a snack, someone else needs batteries, and someone else insists on getting into everything he’s not allowed to have. Write at night when the threat of interruption is still there, and at the least I’ll be sacrificing sleep. Somehow these added up have taught me to be efficient. Any time someone asks me how I even do it with four kids, the first thing I like to tell them is, “You get efficient.” Also, my kids are somewhat self-sufficient for young children. (And this should go without saying, but they have a dad! It’s not like I’m doing this alone.)
In terms of my writing, this efficiency just means I squeeze writing in when I can. It means I spend a lot less time re-reading and more time getting words on the page. Re-reading can be saved for the editing stage. It also means my kids have heard the phrase, “You play nicely, Mommy’s going to do some work now.” And that’s okay.
Being a mom doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice who you are, or what you like to do for
you. It’s okay to make some time for your writing. It even okay to let the kids trash your house
while you do it. They’re better off with a mom who’s happy, rather than one who feels guilty
over a messy house.
In the long run, it won’t matter that my house was a mess, that a few pieces of clothing
have been ruined with paint, or that they’ve had some days of structure-less play. What matters is that they know they’re loved—by their parents and by God.
As parents, we lead by example. Personally, I think it’s a good example to my children to
keep up with my writing and accomplish my goals. I want kids who have the same dedication to accomplishing their own goals. When they’re old enough to enjoy my novels, I’ll be proud to have them read them. As far as raising them in a Christian home, my novels are faith-based stories. When my kids get old enough to read them, I need them to see that. I need them to know that it’s a good thing to show your faith through your accomplishments.
At the end of the day, I get my novel into the hands of readers, my family is happy, and
Michelle Wright is a librarian and a writer with a life-long love of books and reading. She is an avid yearly participant in National Novel Writing Month, which has helped her complete a collection of novels in the last several years. Finding Grace is her debut novel.
She makes her home in southern Ontario with her husband and four kids. If she finds a spare minute, she has been known to knit, paint, sing, or play video games.
You can follow Michelle on:
Facebook: Michelle Wright Author
And you can also visit her blog at: https://michellewrightwriter.wordpress.com/