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Miranda: Yeah, I’m writing, but OUCH

26421546_0cccf04d2eWhat lengths will you go to in order to protect your creative time?

I’ve come to depend on my Saturday morning “me time.” My husband and I split the weekend mornings; he gets Sunday. This means I can either sleep in on Saturdays or get up early and start writing — or a combination of the two. But I have from whenever I get up until 10:00 or even 11:00 (if I push it) all to myself, assuming that I don’t have to leave the house to go do something. Like pick kids up from sleepovers.

Sleepovers. A few weeks ago I came to realize that my Saturday morning time was increasingly being sacrificed to pickups for one of my older kids after a Friday night sleepover. Sleepover pickup time seems to be 10:00 by default. This means I need to leave the house by 9:45 in most instances — so I have to start showering/getting dressed by 9:15. If my husband and I were up late the night before and I want to sleep in a little, maybe I get out of bed at 8:00. So, up at 8:00, make coffee….by the time I’m happily ensconced back in bed with my coffee and laptop, I might have an hour left before having to stop. Now, an hour is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a whole lot less than nearly THREE hours. And without question, once I’m up and have joined the family, that’s it. There’s no going back to my morning hidey-hole. What’s a mama to do?

I started telling my older kids that they had to nail-down pickup time BEFORE dropoff. Either they needed to know that I could pick them up at 11:00 or later, or they had to arrange for a ride home. If neither option was feasible, and the sleepover couldn’t be moved to our house, then no sleepover. I figured that this was only one of the two weekend nights anyway, so it couldn’t be too problematic.

My new edict took hold. Things were going well. I started remembering to remind the kids about pickup plans before I agreed to take them anywhere on Friday nights. More time to self = happier me.

Then, this weekend, my mother came down to babysit while my husband and I went to the David Gray concert in Boston. As we were leaving — late — my daughter asked if she could sleepover at a friend’s house. She needed a dropoff, however, and it was out of our way. No go. But then Grandma volunteered to take her, with the two little ones in tow. Fine. Daughter was happy and packed her stuff in a rush. Just as we were all heading out the door at the same time, I remembered: “What about tomorrow? Are you going to need a ride before 11:00?” Oh. Daughter wasn’t sure. She made a few calls. No, she had to be picked up by 10:00 because the host had a soccer game, and the other girl who was also sleeping over was unable to give my daughter a ride.

I thought about my morning, and how I was so looking forward to getting back to my manuscript. I thought about what I’d just said to Cathy about how your family won’t take your creative commitment seriously unless YOU take it seriously. I want to finish this book, and I need to treat my work LIKE MY WORK.

I told my daughter I couldn’t pick her up at 10:00.

She was sweet, and didn’t give me a guilt trip. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m going to have a busy weekend NEXT weekend.”

I felt like crap. Really, was it such a big deal to cut my morning a little short? I couldn’t do it. “It’s fine, I’ll just get you in the morning,” I said (a little reluctantly). “No, Momma,” she said. “It’s fine.” She headed back to her room, and I let it go. We left, while I fell into maternal self-flagellation. Isn’t it a mother’s JOB to drive her kids all over the place? Was it really fair to deprive my daughter of a fun night with her friends, just because I selfishly wanted MORE time to myself?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t know if I want to know. But my daughter didn’t go, and I used my morning time effectively. I kind of owed it to my daughter to do that, didn’t I?

What would YOU have done?

Some of our readers are contemplating (or have already committed to) NaNoWriMo. What are you going to do to protect the amount of time required for churning out 1,600 words a day? Sure, most people here (even non-writers!) could churn out 1,600 words in a single day. But EVERY day, for THIRTY days?

Despite the sheer terror mild panic, I’m thinking of running “bandit” on the NaNoWriMo road race. I can’t commit officially, because I want to work on my current fiction project and NoNoWriMo rules specify that all projects MUST be from scratch. I’m also more than a little intimidated by the 1,600 daily benchmark. Even just committing to 500 words a day might be a struggle for me. Once I get going, I’m fine, but finding the sit-in-your-seat-and-get-started window, every day, is pas evident.

Stepping up your game, and making sure that YOU are clear on your commitment and that you then communicate that commitment to your family, are essential steps. What else can we do to create — and protect — our time?

[Photo courtesy Shawn Allen under a Creative Commons license.]

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Juliet Bell #

    You did the right thing. May I remind you that we all have two legs that are useful for getting from one place to another – remember when you were your daughter’s age, you did the 20 mile walk for hunger. Throwing that option at her, allows her to make her own decision (and possibly would have lessened the hour of gloom that filled the room after you left), and, best of all, gives her the opportunity to smell the roses!

    October 26, 2009
  2. i would have done the same …. just because parenting has BECOME drive them all over creation, doesn’t mean that is what it is meant to be ….. i would have used the be with your grandmother, plan ahead, i already had my plan, your next weekend will be full and busy lines …. clearly it was fine because she didn’t pitch a fit …. don’t get bogged down in guilt …. do what’s right, be consistent, your kids will not just be fine, they’ll flourish and grow to understand that they aren’t the center of the universe ….

    that said … i’m in a freak out state over nanowrimo … having never written that much before … let alone so many days in a row …. and worst of all … i think i need to 2500 words a day for 20 days … rather than 1600 for 30 days …. cause of that pesky thanksgving holiday at the end of the month …. and the ensuing house guests and meal huzzzzzah …. eek!! …. freakin’ out ….

    October 26, 2009
  3. ah, miranda, thank you, and yes sometimes i can do that, sometimes i just can’t. it becomes a decision by decision basis: last week’s case for me went to extremes. i apologize for the whining rants. and am trying again this week. dryer repair guy coming again tomorrow, i know ahead of time this time that mil is staying home in the am for the appt, so when i drop dh off at work, i am bringing hard copies of ms to library and ensconscing myself with pen and commented versions plus my own to edited in what i need for three and a half hours, alone, in quiet. maybe i’ll even stay longer and hope that c has not eaten the philodendron or counter stool again on mil’s watch.

    October 26, 2009
  4. Brittany Vandeputte #

    Or she could ride a bike. Those are useful, too.

    I’m of the opinion that it’s *not* a mother’s job to facilitate a social life for their children. Feeding, clothing, emotional supporting, yes. Carting hither and yon–no.

    I think somewhere along the way parents lost sight of the big picture. We want our children to be happy, and will kill ourselves to provide for that happiness before we think of our own. But *we* are the adults, and *we* paid our dues already when we were kids, not getting to have our way, taking a backseat to our own parents needs and wants. It seems ridiculous to think that now the table have turned and we’re going to bend to the whims of our children and therefore will always have our needs put last.

    It is character building to be told no. To get no help. To be told to think out of the box and find an alternate, not-so-convenient solution to our problems. It teaches children responsibility, independence, and more than that, to not take their aspirations for granted. If you didn’t ever have to fight for what you wanted, the act of wanting and receiving would become meaningless.

    I think you did the right thing.

    Beyond that, I don’t know how to further protect my time. That’s something I’m still learning. I will say though that it felt really good to meet Tom at the door as he came in on Friday and say, “I am mad at you that you are home late. I did not cook you dinner because you weren’t home when you said you’d be. The boys have eaten. You’re on your own. I have had it up to here today with the children and their noise and their messes. I am going out and I will be back when I feel better.” And then I left the house.

    I told him exactly what my issue was, and what I needed, and then I took it. I don’t do that often enough.

    October 26, 2009
  5. congratulations, brittany! and how was the margarita? πŸ˜‰

    e – i am having a similar issue. i know i will not be making 3.3333 pages double spaced each day, but if i can do 1 here, and 5 there….i won’t kill myself. i also would like to be a ‘winner’ but i’m ok if i’m not and still produce the bulk of a book.

    October 26, 2009
  6. oh, i’m also looking at it like how i used to do morning pages a la the artist’s way. whatever ends up in there counts to word count even i am writing dreck that has nothing to do with the plot, like ‘spaghetti noodles with butter – yea, i could use some comfort food about now….’

    October 26, 2009
  7. Thanks for the support, you guys.

    Brittany–>GO YOU! Impressive.

    I think I’m going to need DAILY support for NaNoWriMo, even my modified version. Perhaps create a new blog page where we can post comments daily — sort of like the Monday Page but specific to NaNoWriMo?

    I know there are a lot of support boards out there, but I’d rather call a huddle right here among old friends.

    ?

    October 26, 2009
  8. the boards at nanowrimo are kind of in jokes and millions of people …. i ‘m not sure how a newbie could ever navigate into the community like some of those people already are … so … yes … i’d love a support group here in some manner or other ….

    October 26, 2009
  9. Voila!

    October 26, 2009
  10. woo-hoo!

    October 26, 2009
  11. Brittany Vandeputte #

    This makes me want to join you… I am certifiable for going there.

    October 26, 2009
  12. i just spent much of my morning working on my outline for my book … i believe i am certifiable for thinking i can do this … but i really really really really really want it work ….

    i am certain that whoever dreamed up nanowrimo did not have a family … the thanksgiving to do at the end of the month looms large … not to mention, the christmas shopping that is better done in november than in december ….

    October 26, 2009
  13. wow, busy day! miranda, i agree you did the right thing. it is so hard to not get the mama guilt and try to remember that the world should not revolve around the children. i agree with brittany that hearing no sometimes builds character. unless someone is hurt, i don’t think we should drop what we are doing at any given moment to tend to the children (as mine are currently yelling, “Moooooommmmmm! when are going to paint the pumpkins!!!???” i was headed there when I got distracted by this). teacher’s planning day today so i had to take the day off (though they did go into the office with me for about an hour and a half first thing this morning …whole other story)

    as for that nanowrimo thing…. i thought about it too, briefly, and then remembered that i promised myself i’d stop taking so much on. and of course, there’s that sketchbook project thing i signed on to. that sounded more fun to me…until my sketchbook arrived and i saw that i have to have it done by dec 1. πŸ™‚ not sure that’ll happen!

    October 26, 2009
  14. kelly … i got my journal in the mail too … and thankfully it was small! … cause without remembering the journal, i signed up for nanowrimo …. i think i can manage both …. but nano is where all my thinking is going right now …. i should go fill that journal up right now before october starts!!

    October 26, 2009
  15. uh-oh…is e hitting a wall already? πŸ˜‰ lol!

    October 26, 2009
  16. nah … no wall … i actually worked on nano all morning … HUGE outline going on …. i’m ready to start writing right now …. i can tell that i’m going to have procrastination issues, seeing as how i’m sitting her waiting for y’all to drop a comment ….

    October 26, 2009
  17. just teasing, e — riffing from ‘…right now before october starts!!’ seeing as october is almost ending…. πŸ˜‰ just the kind of thong i would say, seeing as i set all my clocks back a week early.

    October 26, 2009
  18. *thing, not thong! that would be an entirely different discussion.

    pardon me for being too vocal today, a little sick and loopy….whatever we had last week seems to have hit round 2 of feverish feeling…

    October 26, 2009
  19. Thanks, Kelly, too….

    Moving my NaNoWriMo thoughts to the new page!

    October 26, 2009

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