I Write Like a Mom

I love to write in a clean environment with absolutely no distractions, noise, or clutter. I would prefer a cup of coffee, a light snowfall, and a crackling fire. In this scenario, someone will deliver morning tea on a silver tray with delicate pastries. After all, I’m working hard; writers cannot be disturbed from their work. Someone else is doing laundry, cleaning dishes, and vacuuming. Someone else is making all the beds and wiping down bathroom counters.

And I’m clicking away at the keyboard, pausing only to sip my delicious and perfectly hot coffee.

Ha! It’s never been this way, and it never will. In the real version, children literally perform handstands behind me. I’m usually freezing at my desk. Someone is probably crying, and something has just spilled. It’s loud in here. I just heard the buzz of the dryer, so the laundry is ready to fold.

I learned in 2006 (I remember the exact week because my husband was traveling to assist with Hurricane Katrina clean up that Spring Break, months after the August 2005 disaster, and I had a fussy infant in one hand and a three year old who needed lunch immediately) how to write like a mom.

Depressed out of my mind and full of anxiety, I settled both children and sat at the makeshift desk crammed into one corner of our impossibly small bedroom of our first home. I had this idea for a novel, and I wanted to write. I just wanted to write. 

So I did. I wrote 140 pages during the next seven days (20 pages a day! I know!). The baby still cried; the house still needed cleaning; I still folded innumerable loads of laundry; I set up all kinds of crafts and activities for my oldest. And I wrote with more distractions, clutter, and noise than you can imagine. At night, zombie-eyed and hungry, I wrote until my head fell onto the desk.

I thought about that week this morning when I had planned a glorious writing morning for myself before my noon classes. But no. School is canceled, and amid cinnamon rolls, dishes, setting up activities, and noise, I’m sitting here to write. I had just whispered to myself, “Well, I guess no writing today,” when I remembered that conditions are never perfect for a mom. 

It’s the worst kind of background (I can actually hear the music to the Little Mermaid), but the mind is its own quiet place. I’ve had 13 years of practice to take whatever situation I’m in–a minivan, an airport, a hospital waiting room, a kitchen covered with glitter and flour–and write.

I just write. I write exactly like a mom.

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