My Life As A Writer and As A New Mom
Life as a writer is hard.
But life as a writer and a new mom is even harder.
There are a lot of moving pieces and even more than the pure lack of sleep is learning how to balance writing and being a mom to a 1 month old.
There are a lot of interruptions
I had the naive idea that I’d be able to get a lot of writing down during this time but nothing really prepared me for the amount of feedings I’d have to do during the day which means I’m interrupted by hangry cries every 1 to 2 hours.
I’m a slow writer as it is and now with 2–3 hour spurts of sleep throughout the night, it takes me forever to get my ideas out onto the page much less having to refocus every hour.
Figuring out how to beat the lag between the interruptions is definitely a challenge, one that I’m still trying to conquer.
There are good days and there are bad days
There are days when all I can muster up the energy to do is feed my little guy and nap in between. Other days, I find myself picking up my laptop every chance I get. And then there are days when I have the energy to write but my little guy wants to eat constantly.
There are going to be good days which result in me writing at least one story and there are going to be bad days where nothing gets done. Some days are harder than others but I hope to push myself to have more good days than bad because it’s really up to me to determine if I want to have a good or bad day.
The lack of sleep is hard
You read about it but you never really know how difficult it is to function without proper sleep. I bow down to the insomniacs of the world who don’t get any sleep but still manage to function.
The lack of sleep is hard. Really hard.
It’s getting better now that his feedings are further apart but I still don’t get a full night’s rest and I’m up at least twice a night. I am excitedly anticipating the day that he will sleep for a full 8 hours.
Some days my mind is in a haze which means my writing suffers and I’m staring at a blank screen for far too long.
Not sweating the small stuff
I haven’t cried over spilled milk yet but there are definitely times when I’m about to lose it.
I constantly have to remind myself not to sweat the small stuff.
There’s really no time to waste
Time is the most finite thing on earth.
I have to admit that I did not make the best of my time when I was kid-free and I didn’t appreciate it as much either.
I don’t emerge from my bedroom until about 11am because I’m taking care of the little guy and half the afternoon is spent nursing (he takes about an hour each time) which leaves very little time to write.
So now, every minute he spends sleeping, I try to write as much as I can whether it be an idea or trying to finish up a story or even just a paragraph.
Now that I have limited time to write, I realize that time really is of the essence.
Money is always on my mind
When you’ve worked a stable job for a decade, like I have, you come to expect a certain level of comfort. Currently, my income will be cut by more than half with me being on EI and although I am more than grateful to be living in Canada where I can be on maternity leave for a year and still receive an income, I can’t help by think about the money because it’s costly to raise a kid (and 2 cats, 1 of which require special food).
Money may not be the first consideration but it’s always there on top of the list of considerations before making a decision.
Taking advice and criticism with a grain of salt
Everybody has an opinion.
Whether it’s my writing or my parenting, there are going to be fans and there are going to be haters.
Learning how to take advice with a grain of salt has been a learning curve on its own. I appreciate that people who give out advice believe its in my best interest but sometimes it only makes me feel guilty when I don’t want to take it especially when it comes to advice dished out by the family.
It’s the same with writing. There are going to be trolls and there are going to be fans but I ultimately need to write in a way that feels authentic to me regardless of the advice people give.
It can get really lonely
Writing and motherhood can both be very lonely.
As I’m starting out in the two endeavours, much of the work is done by me and only me in both cases.
Yes, there are times for collaboration and avenues to reach out for help and to help others but at the end of the day, the only person who can actually get the work done is me.
It’s the same for parenting. My husband and parents have been super supportive and a lot of help, and I’m thankful for them, but for most of the day, it’s just me and my son (and my 2 cats) while everyone else carries on with life as usual.
And it can get really lonely.
Not giving up on my own happiness
As I look at my son’s sleeping face right now, I’m reminded of why I need to keep writing.
It’s not only for me.
Writing is something I’ve wanted to do since I can remember and I chose not to pursue it until now because I “needed to make a living”. I don’t want to instil that kind of mindset in my little guy.
What’s important is that he live a happy life whatever that may look like to him, not me. The only way I know how to teach him that is to live my own life and try to be as happy as I can be because we live our lives through the examples of others and he’s going to live his life based on the example my husband and I set for him.
It’s easy to forget our own happiness and joy once we have a child. We focus everything we have, and possibly spend the rest of our lives, teaching them to be a good person, a happy human being.
But can I teach my child to be happy if I’m unhappy?
I don’t think so.
Being a parent means that my husband and I are the first role models he has and regardless of other influences in his life, I believe our voices and actions will consciously or subconsciously guide him.
My happiness matters as much as his.
Looking forward to the future
It’s amazing that a new life can come out of me. That applies to both my son and my writing.
There’s so much potential with a blank slate.
The idea that I can create, teach, and inspire with my words and my actions is scary and exciting at the same time. There’s no guarantee in what the final masterpiece will look like or result in but as I write this and as I look at my little ‘milk monster’, I’m grateful and excited to see how my masterpieces will turn out.