The following is a guest post by JJ Keith. Her blog, JJust Kidding, is about parenting her own two children. Here she shares her thoughts with us on how she balances writing with being a parent:
In the haze of being as stay-at-home mom to a newborn and a toddler my writing has been relegated to more of a hobby than a profession, but a hobby that I pursue vigorously and without frivolity. Whereas I used to zip off my thoughts on the fall television line up or the latest incarnation of the Warp Tour, I now am now shifting through the clenching intensity of motherhood.
I am not one of those people who’ll boast that I didn’t know what love was before having children. I knew what love was. At the end of my pregnancies I delivered babies, not a newly complicated and warmer version of myself. I can still blather on about how “The Event” is a poor man’s “Lost” or how Florence and the Machine stacks up against Garbage. The difference is that these days I have less time to simply “feel.” I am so busy wiping tears and butts and spilled milk that when I finally get fingers to keys I don’t give a rat’s ass about how “Survivor” is getting stale. I want to eff the ineffable.
I write in the evenings in my bedroom after my husband gets home from work. Often my daughter sticks her chubby fingers under the door to protest my isolation, so I usually just leave the door open and assume I’ll be interrupted. Or else I write in the middle of the night under a spotlight of wakefulness in my slumbering household. I knew what love was before having kids, but didn’t know that gathering my thoughts might ever be a luxury.
I should be doing more freelancing. I should be learning about search engine optimization and lining up buyers for my copy. I need the cash. I really do. But I can’t bear to use the few hours a week I get to write to create lists of holiday travel tips or things to do with a toddler on a rainy day. I can’t. Or at least I need to get a little hungrier before I try. I work too hard for that time to use it to write anything other than what delights me.
Instead I have a middling mommy blog where I publish only what I feel like writing. I use it as a space to paw at the meaning behind my life of sippy cups, soggy diapers, thigh rolls and snot faces. If it’s not cathartic then I don’t have time to write it. My mommy blog is not the most prestigious use of an advanced degree in writing. It’s not earning me any bragging rights or a mention in the alumni newsletters, but it’s what I do when I’m not taking care of my kids. It is the entirety of my writing career, at least for now.