Written by Tammy Sinclair
Whether you’ve been a writer all your life or only recently discovered this passion, if you’re a Christian mom who loves to write, then we have something in common.
I think I wrote my first book when I was about seven.
Okay, it was actually only a few folded sheets of pink paper with my hand-written words and drawings,but my mom gushed over it, and believe it or not, I still have it somewhere in a drawer, decades (and decades…) later! From then on, I kept writing stories, though most of them I sadly never finished.
When I married and became a mom, life was wrapped up in the all-consuming moments of baby and toddlerhood—as they are for most of us during that time. When my oldest of two girls was about to enter first grade, I felt God was leading me to home school. As we began that new journey, it felt all-consuming at first, too. My writing was again put on the back burner.
Soon, though, I found the world of blogging. I began writing my little heart out with post after post, eagerly reading other blogs, and connecting with other Christian bloggers. I found a whole wonderful community of like-minded people!
I have a confession to make—I’m a bit of an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, I still love real interaction and back then, I relished the time with other moms in our home school groups each week. But the community I found in the blogging world became a big part of my life. It was a vital lifeline to other Christians during a season primarily at home…and also a vital lifeline to writing.
In the blogosphere, I actually grew a little following—I wasn’t a famous blogger by any stretch of the imagination—but quite a few folks looked forward to my posts every few days. I, in turn, would look forward to reading what my blogging friends had to say or the photos they’d sometimes post. (This was before Facebook, so you can imagine why blogs were so popular!)
For me, blogging was a good thing overall—it provided friendship and honed my writing skills. But after a couple of years, I began to notice that things began to look a somewhat out of balance. It was even a little addictive. I began putting way too much energy and attention into my blogging life as it slowly took over.
At the time, I used our main computer in our little bonus room. I remember specifically one day, typing away, as my youngest—about four years old at the time—was gleefully playing throughout the house.
Although I don’t remember the exact interaction now, I think she wandered in and asked me to play with her. My back to her, I was right in the middle of focusing on something that required my complete attention and told her I was too busy. (Most likely, I was composing a stellar post or writing or an amazing reply on another blog.)
I think it was only minutes later that I was completely convicted. I’m sure by that time I had been on the computer for much more than an hour, and I suddenly realized—with clarity and grief—that this stay-at-home, homeschool mom that took pride in being there for my children so much—was in fact…not. At least I wasn’t fully present.
Oh, I’m not saying I was completely ignoring them all day. In my defense, I was spending each day pouring over lessons with them, reading to them, and indeed, playing with them. They were fed and bathed and they knew I loved them. But I suddenly saw that the scale had begun to tilt in the wrong direction. It had happened slowly…subtly. And it wasn’t just about the amount of time, either. It was about my focus.
Life moves quickly and so does childhood. I realized that theirs was speeding along at an alarming rate and if I didn’t start re-prioritizing things right away, it was going to all pass me by. (Not to mention, I didn’t want their biggest memory of Mommy to be the back of my head!) So, I immediately cut back on my computer time and started purposely treasuring each moment I could with them. I’m so thankful I did! (Since my then four-year-old is turning eighteen this year, I can attest to the fact that it really does go by quickly. It’s a season of life that we simply will not have forever, mamas.)
Did I completely give up blogging that day? No! I hope you don’t read the wrong message here. Often, we can let misplaced guilt tip the scale over in the opposite direction, too. I think those of us who have a desire and call to write—even when we have small children at home—don’t necessarily have to stifle that longing. Not only can it be deflating to try to stamp that out completely, I think our children need a good role model in view—a mother who tenderly cares for their needs while still carving out some time for pursuing her personal interests or work.
More than this, it’s about God’s calling. Many of us are led to use our writing for Him in various ways.Whether there’s pay involved or not, writing can also be a ministry. And just as with all ministries, balance is the key.
If God has called you to write as a mom with young children, may I suggest asking Him to help you find the right balance? That may look different for each of us. It could be that you write early in the morning or late at night. It could be that while they are having an independent reading time, that’s your time to write. My point is that writing can be wonderful, healthy and what you’re called to do! The same could be said for finding alone time with God, exercising, and having date nights with your spouse. Whether it’s simply an outlet, a ministry, a way to earn money—or like with many of us, all of the above—it’s all
about asking God for balance.
During those years raising and homeschooling my two daughters, I still dreamed of writing a book someday. I remember I started one that I really loved working on but never finished in the end. (As usual!) Besides being busy with everyday life, being published at that time seemed incredibly daunting (and still can be). Self-publishing held more of a stigma even just ten years ago than it does now.
Then, the opportunity came for me to submit an article to Homeschool Enrichment magazine. I can’t even remember how it all came about, to be honest—only that after submitting my little article, I received word that they were actually going to publish it! It was the first time I had tried having anything published—I was almost in disbelief! Especially since my real leaning was in story-writing. And especially when they sent me a free copy showing my article title and my name on the cover with bold letters! (It was pretty heady stuff, let me tell you!)
But, the busyness of life continued…home schooling, kids’ activities, and then caring for my mom as she needed more and more help—eventually moving her in with us. It was about this time, though, that I began to challenge myself to write a story again, just to see if I still could. It was about a young woman who finds herself suddenly back in time and on the home front of WWII. The 1940s happen to be my favorite era so it was partially for my own entertainment at first!
I’d write…put it aside for a while…write some more…off and on for several years. I’d occasionally read what I had so far to my family—specifically my mom, who could no longer see well. She couldn’t wait to hear what would happen next. Just as she did when I was little, she was still my number one fan until the end.
Meanwhile, we continued to home school through high school. During my oldest daughter’s senior year, I facilitated a fiction writing class out of my home that included my two daughters and four other girls, using a fiction writing curriculum. It was so much fun! Sometimes, we can take a passion and contribute to it in ways we never dreamed of during certain seasons of our life. That little group of sweet high school girls, sitting around our dining room table for a few hours twice a month, was always a highlight in my week.
Then one day, a year or so after my mom passed away, I realized that I wanted to finally try to fulfill my life-long dream to finish and publish a novel. This time, I was determined! I set a goal of finishing my first draft of that WWII story and kept it. Finally…I finished and published The Sentimental Journey. The one I started years before and would read bits and pieces to my mom—was finally a reality. A nearly 90,000-word novel and a book I could hold in my hands. It was a far cry from that little paper book I made when I was seven!
By this time, my daughters, although still living at home and needing me in various levels, were now ages 20 and 17. Could I have done this if they were younger? Could I have still been able to write a long novel without sacrificing quality time to meet their physical and emotional needs while they were little?
Quite possibly. That might not be true for every writing mom with small children, however. Everyone is different. Again, it’s about balance—and it’s also about timing. Sometimes we find ourselves in various seasons of life. This means writing can take on different forms for us depending on where we are.
I hope that whatever season you are in as a mom and writer, you take time to celebrate this amazing gift of words that God has given you...while at the same time, balancing your time and energy with those other precious gifts you have—those little ones who look up to you and won’t be little for long. You can embrace all of these gifts with joy and for His glory. If God is in something, He will help guide the process and give us the balance we seek, if we just ask.
Tammy Sinclair has loved writing stories from the time she was a small child. During her fifteen years of homeschooling her children, she had a non-fiction article published in Homeschool Enrichment magazine.A history buff and romantic at heart, she can be found enjoying the outdoors, cozying up with a good book or watching classic movies in her spare time. She resides in Oregon with her incredible husband and two amazing, young-adult daughters.
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