It was not that the writing made me neglect my mothering, as is sometimes the case. Rather, it was that the recent sustained focus on the edits to my novel led to a subsequent severe case of guilt-parenting. And so it was that I found myself in a dark movie theatre at 3 p.m. last Sunday afternoon with all four of the motley brood, watching an animated movie about a violin-playing Asian girl who discovers a yeti on her roof.
It was an alright movie, as such movies go, but I found myself repeatedly looking over at the 22-year old (texting into his iPhone at warp speed), the 19-year old (‘Mom, are you planning to eat your hotdog?’), the 10-year old (‘Mom, I need the bathroom again’) and the 4-year old (dancing while watching the movie, eyes and mouth agog) with my face perpetually twisted into its own peculiar version of ‘isn’t this great?!!!’ Eventually, it occurred to me that I was hungry for confirmation that at least one of them was enjoying that movie enough to justify the work I wasn’t doing on the flash story about Bussa that’s been buzzing around in my head for the past few weeks.
For my part, all I could think about was Bussa.
I am beginning to make my peace with this. I am beginning to stay in front of the computer screen, without guilt, while toys crash and doors bang and somebody whines an appeal to mom because one or other sibling is annoying them in the way only a sibling can. I am beginning to keep my mind on the word, the line, the sentence while the baby makes missiles of her meatballs and the rain starts to come down on the already-dry uniforms pegged on the clothesline. I am beginning to not bother if I was awake from 4 am working on a chapter that still isn’t right and now it’s 6:00 a.m and breakfast for my babies will, once again, have to come from a can if I am to get them to school on time.
But only just.
I love my children, I believe I was meant to mother them, but writing is a part of me. Perhaps one of the best gifts I can give them is the example of trying to live my passion, of dedicating enough time to my work so that when, in those moments I am just being mommy, I can be fully, blissfully theirs.