When I was thinking about having children, one of my top concerns was whether I would have time to write. At the time, I lived a charmed writer’s life (though I didn’t realize it at the time). I had published my first book of poems, taught part-time at a university, and had my own little room off our bedroom where I spent my free time writing. I was very organized and set aside time each day to write. Some days I wrote a lot; other days, I sat in my chair, looking out the window, sipping my tea, and thinking about writing.
My first child was born in winter, and I didn’t write again until the first buds opened that spring. And then I wrote on the weekends when I pumped breastmilk and my husband took him out for a few hours. Or I wrote while he napped. When he was older, I worked outside of the home a bit, and wrote at night. And then I got pregnant with his my second son, and now I write while he naps, or at night when both boys are asleep.
I don’t have as much time to write, and the times aren’t as consistent as they were before I had children, but when I write, I write. No spacing out and looking out the window. No procrastination. I write because I want to, when I want to. It’s empowering, and it’s certainly not fraught with drudgery, as it sometimes was before I had children. I don’t have writer’s block anymore, either. Writing is passionate again, like it was when I was a teenager and first began to write. It’s stolen moments. It’s poems on a paper towel, on my iPhone in the dark as I nurse the baby to sleep.
Somehow, in the past six years of motherhood, I have managed to publish my poems in journals, and this summer my second book of poems comes out. Would it have come out sooner if I didn’t have children? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be the book it is if it weren’t for them. Motherhood itself inspires me as a writer in all its wonders, troubles, joys, intensity. It has taught me that time to write is not as important as living a rich, inspiring life. And one day my children will not be little anymore, will not need me this constantly, and I will have a whole afternoon to write. Or better yet, a week at a writing retreat…a girl can dream, right?
My message to women writers who are thinking about having children is: You will write. You are creative: you will find creative ways to sneak in your writing. You will have times that you won’t write at all, and you will have times that you write in a frenzy, slipping it in whenever you can. Just as you will learn to trust yourself as a mother, you will learn to trust yourself as a writer.