Friday, March 6, 2009

Mom guilt

Since the blog is geared to those of us who struggle to "fit it all in", it seems appropriate to share my personal show-stopper: Mom guilt.

You don't have to be a writer, or even a mom, to suffer this. It's loosely defined as the feeling that instead of writing (or insert your passion here) you should be off being a better mom (or insert your role here).

I like to do a lot of stuff, so I suffer Mom guilt almost all day long. I have it right this minute. I attribute it to my Type A personality that pulls me to accomplish every single thing to perfection on a completely unattainable schedule and still devote 100% of my energy to my kids. It's impossible.

Mom guilt will come up again and again on this blog, so I won't talk it to exhaustion here. I'll just mention a nugget I think about a lot. A writer acquaintance, who happens to be childless, was once struggling for her next blog post. I said, "I'd like to hear more about how you fit the writing life in with real life." Her answer surprised me: "Writing is real life." I'm pretty sure a woman with young kids wouldn't have given me that answer, but I've never stopped thinking about it nonetheless.

I go to a lot of effort to be finished with my daily work-outs before my kids wake up in the morning. It soothes the Mom guilt associated with exercise because I haven't lost any time with them that way. Then I go to a lot of effort not to start writing until they are asleep at night for the same reason. It never works perfectly. If I get on a roll and write until the wee hours, then I don't wake up for my work-out. Some days I get up so early for a work-out that I'm too tired to stay up at night and even crank out a paragraph.

Recently, my first book was accepted for publication. When the editor's revision letter arrived with a deadline, I wasn't working to my own clock anymore. I had to work on the manuscript sometimes when the kids were around. I even had to leave the house and go somewhere quiet to work once. It definitely cut into my family time. My writing had changed, overnight it seemed, from a personal hobby into something akin to a job. I welcome this, but it's like poking the hive of Mom guilt with a big ugly stick.

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