A question that’s been bouncing around in my mind a lot lately is what will it be like raising a child and being a writer at the same time? I’ve heard many writers talk about how difficult it can be to find time to write when you have children to take care of and spend time with. This is especially difficult, I’m sure, when you’re not in a position where your spouse can earn all the money and you can just stay home and be a parent/writer.
For a long time—back when I didn’t want to have a kid—I felt very lucky to be living a life where there were never many obstacles standing in the way of my writing time. I had to work, sure, and sometimes work kept me busier than others, and I had to spend time with my husband (“had to” sounds bad—how about “wanted to, but also needed to if I wanted to keep the relationship a healthy one”?), but still, I could always scrounge at least an hour or two every day in which to write, if I really tried. Having a child, which wasn’t something I had any interest in doing for other reasons, seemed especially undesirable because it would further limit my writing time.
Somewhere along the line, though, I completely changed my mind. I knew being a parent and a writer would involve a difficult juggling act, but I didn’t care. I wanted to go for it anyway, and if that meant writing had to be pushed to the back burner, so be it.
As the end of my pregnancy draws near (I’m entering the home stretch—just beginning my third trimester), I am beginning to wonder more and more about the future. I don’t regret the decision to have a baby, and I’m not wondering in that woe-is-me, what-did-I-get-myself-in-to sort of way. Whether being a mom and a writer will be hard or not, it doesn’t change the fact that I desperately wanted to have a baby and am glad every day that my husband and I decided to get pregnant. I’m wondering, instead, in that need-to-be-prepared-for-what-lies-ahead sort of way, because maybe if I know what’s coming, I’ll better be able to keep these different juggling balls in the air.
I’ve heard different things from different moms who have been through it before. I’ve been told that writing will be impossible for the first few months and that I should just go with it, not worry because there’s no way I would have the energy for writing anyway. I’ve been told that finding time to write is easy enough—I just have to be willing to write for fifteen minutes here, twenty there; I just have to write when the baby is sleeping. I’ve heard, too, that I should follow a schedule—get up at 6:00 AM every morning and tell my husband, “This is when I write”; if the baby needs tending to, it’s his responsibility for that one or two hours a day.
So which is it? Will I have the time but not the energy? Will I have the energy but need to steal the time, a few minutes here, a few there? Will I have both, as long as I work it out with my husband (which would be, by the way, no problem. That’s one wonderful thing about being married to another writer—he definitely understands that gnawing need to write).
I guess I’ll find out soon enough. Of course, I’m hoping that I’ll turn out to be some sort of super mom, who has endless energy (and patience) and is able to tend to the baby’s every need when she’s awake, then write like there is no tomorrow when she’s asleep (and when I’m not working), but what’s more likely is that sometimes I’ll have the strength to do it all and sometimes I just won’t, and the thing that will always have to get cut is writing, because I have to take care of my baby and I have to work.
In the meantime, I’m trying to build up my momentum as a writer, and I’m hoping that momentum will carry me through those first few difficult and exhausting months after the baby is born. If I’m in the habit of writing for at least an hour a day when the baby is born, maybe it will be easier to keep it up, or at least keep writing at all, in the midst of all that chaos. Either way, I plan to put in a genuine effort, and if there are days where I just can't seem to manage it, I’m going to try not to get too down on myself. After all, some things in life are far, far, far more important than writing.