If there’s one thing I seem to write about more than anything lately, it’s motherhood. It’s hard not to write about what consumes your life 24/7/366 (Leap Year, holla!) I wrote about my mom in 2014 and about my first Mother’s Day last year. This year I wrote about celebrating Mother’s Day in the hospital for Preemie Babies 101.
As cliche as it sounds, I had no idea how much my life would change once I became a mom. Granted, I also had a complicated pregnancy, a premature baby, and a very hard first year as a parent with BB in the hospital for so long and coming home on a feeding tube. The writing life I knew before having a kid is gone. My leisurely days in the cafe with my writing partner are far and few. It’s more difficult to write at home in my writing cave with the sound of a toddler running after dogs overhead. I’ve yet to master writing during BB’s nap times because a) they are practically nonexistent and b) I’m so exhausted from chasing a F3 tornado that I nap. I’ve got the kid who needs even less sleep than I do.
And so my writing has changed this year. I’ve struggled with the fact I’m no longer as prolific as I once was. When the words don’t come easy I throw a toddler-sized tantrum on Twitter. The middle grade novel I’ve been working on for two years has started and stalled too many times to count.
Despite all this, my writing has gotten better. When I do find time to write, I write. My words are careful if not meticulous at times. I don’t have time (or energy) to do anything half-assed now only to scrap it later. My time is valuable. I love my kid and want to be with him as much as I can, so all the time I leave the house with a laptop in hand I have to be productive. Otherwise, what the hell am I doing? I could be using that much needed me time to go to the gym, to read a book, or take a nap.
BB took his first steps on a night I was out writing. As soon as my car pulled out of the driveway, BB turned from the baby gate and took six steps toward my husband. I was halfway to the cafe where I meet Kristin, another writing partner, when I got the text You’re missing his first steps. To be honest, I cried. I’d just spent the last 12 hours (none of which included a nap) with BB and he’d shown no signs of walking. But I didn’t turn my car around and go home. I drove to the cafe where I bought two lavender bubble teas and wrote a chapter in my middle grade novel, pausing only to watch the videos of BB walking that my husband texted to me. It was then that I realized I’d probably miss a lot of firsts and that was okay. Writing is important to me as is time away from BB. That space allows me to be a better mom which makes me a better writer, but I’ll save that for another essay one day.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve returned to my first love: flash fiction. It’s what I started writing years ago, publishing my first short story in 2003. The first real thing I wrote after BB was born in the hospital was a 200-word flash piece which I recently sold to 200 CC’s. “Agenda” will be published later this summer. Flash fiction is a perfect outlet for me now. I can get my thoughts and ideas down and challenge myself without the mental fatigue. I’m writing more now than ever because it’s easy to dip in and out of a short story, unlike my MG novel. I’m carving out time to write short pieces on my lunch break at work, in the evening after BB has fallen asleep, or while my husband drives. In 2016 alone I’ve written 7 new flash pieces and three essays and I’ve placed four pieces. I’m now a contributor to Preemie Babies 101 thanks to a door opened for me by another writing mom.
As challenging as motherhood is, I’m extremely grateful for the direction it has led me in my writing life. BB won’t be a F3 tornado forever and maybe I’ll crank out two novels a year again like I used to. In the meantime though. I’m going to embrace the insane moments and use them as inspiration for flash fiction and essays. And I’m going to keep working on that middle grade novel. With any luck, it’ll be done by the time BB can read.