I am a mother of twins who are now three years old. It took me nearly ten years and various fertility treatments to have my daughters.
Recently my mother, who is not the most tactful woman in the world, said to me “You wanted babies so bad. I am surprised you are not a better mother.” This comment came about because I became exasperated with my three year old and yelled at her after telling her to stop whatever crazy thing she had been doing for about the dozenth time.
Now, I need to say right now that I think there is a very broad spectrum that mothers fall into. On the one end there are mothers who leave their babies to die in hot cars while they get a bikini wax. On the other end are mothers who are with their children 100% of the time, never scream, never spank, always get the kids to eat veggies etc. I feel I am fairly in the middle of the spectrum here.
My kids sometimes have sandwiches for supper. They often get yelled at after they have pushed mom to the limits. And, they do occasionally get a spanking. Also, at three years old I haven’t even tried to potty train them. Now, on the other side of that, I am with my kids almost constantly. I am the sole breadwinner for the family. I am only gone from them two days a week to work outside the home. During that time they are home with dad. The rest of the week I am with them all the time unless they are asleep. I write, edit, proofread etc with a child on either side of me more often than not. I take my kids on outings almost every day whether it be to their soccer practice, story time at the library, or just to play at the park. It has been over six months since I have had a night out without the kids (my mother isn’t in good enough health to watch them and we don’t leave them with non family members). My kids get rocked and sung a special lullaby every night before bed. In my opinion, I am not doing too terribly bad.
But, motherhood is hard. Much harder than I could ever imagine as I was going through fertility treatments. I imagined a sweet and quiet child with my passion for books and my calm personality. And, I got that. In one of my daughters. The my other daughter could be the twin of the Tazmanian Devil. She doesn’t sit still very often and if she manages it the time is very short. Fifteen minutes tops before she is running around like a toddler sized tornado. She is constantly getting into things and she is very destructive (today we brought artwork from library story time which I taped onto the refrigerator. Within three hours she had ripped pieces off of it and it finally had to be thrown away). By the end of any given day I am so exhausted that I literally feel like I can barely move. And, I have at least another few hours of writing to do because little can be truly accomplished with my daughters in the room though I do try.
The point here is that, for me, motherhood is tough. Much tougher than I imagined. It wears me down and leaves me exhausted. Even though I desperately wanted children and worked long and hard to have them I still find myself getting exhausted and frustrated with them.
Now, if this were a parenting blog instead of a book blog my post would end there. But, I am going to draw a parallel between my experiences as a writer and my motherhood experiences.
I have always wanted to be a writer. I love being a writer. But, it is also some of the most exhausting work I have ever done. I am constantly challenged mentally and many days I just want to lay down and give up.
When I get a less than perfect review of a book I put my whole heart into it feels like a physical blow. When I have a freelance customer say I didn’t quite get their vision right, I feel gutted. When I see that I have only sold two books in a day (yup, sales of two whole ebooks all day today) I feel discouraged. And, when I try to talk to people about it, people who are supposed to care about me, people who I am related to, I get the answer “you were the one who wanted this.” Yes, I did want this. I do want this. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. I also wanted to be a mother but that doesn’t mean parenting twins is easy.
I am not asking for a pity party here. But, I do wish that those around me who have never chased a dream would stop turning up their noses and saying “you wanted this”. Dreams are not reality. Dreams are perfect. Dreams are easy. Dreams don’t spit water on the floor even though they lost their cup and were put in time out for the same offense the night before. Dreams don’t have hard to please customers who fail to communicate their vision and then blame you when you can’t bring it to life. Dreams don’t wake up from their naps and, with the stealth of a ninja, pull fresh poop from their diaper and smear it all over the walls. Dreams don’t include writing 8000 words in a day and getting paid $16 in total (and that is why I am done ghostwriting!).
My point is, dreams have to be unrealistic so we can chase them. If we could see how hard the reality was we would all probably choose the easier paths. Heck, there are days I think about how much easier my life would be if I went and got a nice little 40 hr a week corporate job. Someone else could take care of my kids from 9-5 every day and I would be guaranteed a paycheck. I would get 8 hours of sleep a night and I would actually have downtime to enjoy things like television. But, I wouldn’t be living my dream either. And, I can only keep dreaming that someday, it will get better. My daughters will become small people who will understand rules and be willing to follow them most the time. My books will sell well enough for me to be comfortable and I will be able to completely focus on the writing I love. But, when those things do happen, I am sure they won’t be perfect either.