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WendyNYC
04-16-2008, 08:20 PM
I just read this essay on Literary Mama called "Writing Between the Cracks" and of course I thought of the writer/mothers on AW.:) Enjoy. (http://www.literarymama.com/litreflections/essays/)

CaroGirl
04-16-2008, 08:43 PM
Thanks for sharing that. It puts into words exactly how it was for me before I went back to work. Now my cracks seem even smaller.

Jersey Chick
04-16-2008, 08:45 PM
She summed it up perfectly. :)

dolores haze
04-16-2008, 08:52 PM
And that's the story of my writing life. She put it into words beautifully. Thanks for sharing this.

jennontheisland
04-16-2008, 08:56 PM
Well, if that isn't accuracy, I don't know what is.

Soccer Mom
04-16-2008, 09:57 PM
That was simply brilliant. It feels good to know that I'm part of a sisterhood of women wedging art into the gaps of my life and trying to pry them a bit wider.

Thank you for that, Wendy!

StoryG27
04-16-2008, 10:07 PM
What a wonderful article. I haven't actually finished it because I have a meeting to get to, but I'm printing it as I type this and will finish and reread it later because I love what I've read so far. I guess as well as writing between the cracks, I read there too. :D

heyjude
04-16-2008, 10:47 PM
Eloquently put. My only real difference is that I can't stay awake after the kids go to bed. I'm out! Otherwise, I relate so well...

jannawrites
04-17-2008, 02:22 AM
Wow. So good! And how true it rings!

Thanks so much for sharing this, Wendy.

Mandy-Jane
04-17-2008, 03:12 AM
That was a great article. And she's a great writer. Obviously her determination pays off. I wish I was a bit more like that.

jenngreenleaf
04-17-2008, 03:40 AM
True.True.True.True......

Mud Dauber
04-17-2008, 07:32 AM
Great quote from one of the most prolific writers of our time at the top of the article: "... and somehow the activity of writing makes everything better." Let's see a mom who writes dare to disagree with that.;)

Thanks for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed (and related) to the entire article.

Cassidy
04-17-2008, 08:53 AM
Thanks so much for posting that. I didn't start writing until after my son was born and I could relate to so much of that essay.

timewaster
04-17-2008, 11:04 AM
Bizarrely I feel quite out of sympathy with the article although I did write all through my children's childhood. I am a writer mainly because it fits in with being a Mum and I found the article cloying, self congratulatory and self aggrandising.

It is a privilege to be able to spend time with your kids, thinking about something else the whole time you are doing it seems rather pointless. YMMV

Mandy-Jane
04-17-2008, 12:55 PM
It is a privilege to be able to spend time with your kids, thinking about something else the whole time you are doing it seems rather pointless. YMMV


Of course it's a privilege to spend time with your kids. We all know that. But the writer is hardly thinking about something else the whole time. The whole point of the article is that she's a mother first and a writer second, using up what little spare time she has to fulfill her other interest - writing.

And isn't that what all we mothers are doing?

timewaster
04-17-2008, 03:16 PM
You'll have to forgive me. I'm a grump and I have a real problem with the tone of her piece. It irritated me to the extent that I did rather skim it.
It may be the UK/US cultural divide.

Writing is something Mum's (and Dad's) and some people who do paid work outside the home fit in around busy lives. It doesn't have a more elevated status than other forms of home working or even sneaking in quick cappucino, reading the paper, playing the piano or managing a quick meeting with friends. TBH I would feel more inclined to write a eulogy to 80% chocolate than work, but that's just me. I am always irritated by writing that makes a fuss about writing as if it were in some way a 'special' activity.

CDarklock
04-17-2008, 03:31 PM
Timewaster, you need to understand something about Americans.

Our work is who we are. If you don't work, or have something that qualifies as work, you are not anyone in American society.

Notice what we ask at parties: not "where do you work" (as I seem to recall they do in the UK), but "what do you do". Anything outside of your work and your career doesn't count.

So elevating the process of sneaking in writing, something that qualifies as a career, between the cracks in your life as a wife and mother (which, thanks to the women's liberation movement, does not qualify as a job or career) is critical to the American psyche.

The UK tends to be more about community. Who you are is largely who your friends are, so the company you keep is much more critical. Americans can fraternise with anyone, provided we have sufficiently good jobs.

But I'm newly unemployed, so I'm nobody. Feel free to ignore me. ;)

jenngreenleaf
04-17-2008, 03:44 PM
Of course it's a privilege to spend time with your kids. We all know that. But the writer is hardly thinking about something else the whole time. The whole point of the article is that she's a mother first and a writer second, using up what little spare time she has to fulfill her other interest - writing.

And isn't that what all we mothers are doing?That's a great point. I look at it this way: writers *can* fit in their career around parenting, whereas a waitress or lawyer or whatever has to fit parenting around their career. Because the latter seems backwards to me, writing fits in nicely with the grand scheme of things in this household . . . though it may not in other households. It's all about personal goals, beliefs, and whatnot. Not everyone is always going to see eye to eye or approach situations (particulary that of a career, or an opinion about a career) in the same way.

WittyandorIronic
04-17-2008, 04:10 PM
Our work is who we are. If you don't work, or have something that qualifies as work, you are not anyone in American society.

Notice what we ask at parties: not "where do you work" (as I seem to recall they do in the UK), but "what do you do". Anything outside of your work and your career doesn't count.

I don't know about all of America, but this certainly applies to myself, my circle, and the area I live in.

Having said that, there are quite few things in the article that I disagree with. Most of it boils down to the fact that I fundamentally disagree with subsuming your life to the needs of the family, and then complaining about how little time you get for 'you'. I think it is important for children to see mom setting aside time for herself. If they don't grow up thinking it is important, then they won't practice it themselves, and another cycle starts. Yes, with toddlers it can be difficult, but kids are pretty resilient, and they learn and adapt fast.
Blah...in reality I am a feminist and so the whole tone of the article is specifically NOT directed at me, nor can I really sympathize with her. Personally, this past summer that I took off to spend time with my step kids was fantastic. I have never written so much in my life, and I still managed to play, hang out, travel, cook a little dinner, and even fold some laundry now and then.

omfg - it is driving me nuts. Isn't it a dowsing rod, or divining stick, and NOT a dowager's stick?

timewaster
04-17-2008, 04:29 PM
Well I have been guilty of the same thing. I have avoided the term 'house wife' like the plague.
I think it is more than that. I think sometimes 'writing' is given special status because it is seen as artistic and creative and so somehow more important than cleaning the kitchen, or doing the garden. This seems to be associated with the delusion that those people who engage in it are somehow more soullful, sensitive creatures than the rest of humanity for whom the humdrum daily round is probably good enough.

That attitude really annoys me and I felt it was somehow implicit in the tone of the article.

(I hope you find a new job soon, if that is what you are looking for.)

Mandy-Jane
04-17-2008, 04:51 PM
I think sometimes 'writing' is given special status because it is seen as artistic and creative and so somehow more important than cleaning the kitchen, or doing the garden. This seems to be associated with the delusion that those people who engage in it are somehow more soullful, sensitive creatures than the rest of humanity for whom the humdrum daily round is probably good enough.

That attitude really annoys me and I felt it was somehow implicit in the tone of the article.

I understand what you're saying, and I agree with you on that point.

I've also just re-read the article and I can see where you're coming from. But I think she paints an accurate picture of what it's like to be a stay at home mum who writes. I also think I'm insanely jealous because I have the same kinds of commitments that she has, and I don't have anywhere near that level of determination!

timewaster
04-17-2008, 05:12 PM
I'm a feminist too and I think it is OK to be a 'stay at home Mom' and do a good job of raising a family. I think that is an option. I think it is work that is seriously undervalued. Some people are ill suited to it and it does make sustained thought and sometimes even complete sentences difficult to accomplish. I also think its Ok to be a 'stay at home Dad' too.
I went back to work after my first and have technically 'worked at home' as a writer since the second ( I have four) I don't actually remember when I worked when they were small. I have only the haziest memory of that sleep deprived period. It was fun and full on and I'm not sure I ever did finish a complete sentence for several years. I did work a bit and had eight books for young children published, but they were all very short to match my attention span.

I don't object to the fact that the writer put her kids first. I object to the fact that she felt she had to make such a fuss about it, but that's writers for you it's all memememe : )

WittyandorIronic
04-17-2008, 08:13 PM
I'm a feminist too and I think it is OK to be a 'stay at home Mom' and do a good job of raising a family.

I didn't mean to imply that being a stay at home mom was somehow objectionable because I am a feminist. Complaining about a choice you made as a woman and mother, and the limitations that the choice has imposed on you without doing anything to change it, is objectionable to me as a feminist. As is the implication that to be a good mother you have to ONLY be a good mother. I might be mom, but I was Lauran first and will be Lauran long after my children no longer need me (as much).
Different strokes and all that... but I firmly believe that we do a disservice to our children by not demonstrating how important pursuing a dream/passion is. Whether it is boating, hunting, race car driving, being a lawyer, or writing.

WendyNYC
04-17-2008, 08:35 PM
I didn't read her essay so much as a complaint as a celebration of this part of her life that is just for her and her struggle to make time for it. It's applicable to both SAHMs and WOHMs (and really, most anyone, because don't most people spend the majority of their time tending to something else--job, ailing parent, kids, all three).

It also depends on the age of your kids I found being a mother to two toddlers to be all-consuming and exhausting (though, often delightful), and honestly I barely wrote at all except in a journal. Now that they are a bit older (6 and 8), there seems to be more space in my brain. And in my day.

Mud Dauber
04-17-2008, 09:45 PM
I didn't mean to imply that being a stay at home mom was somehow objectionable because I am a feminist. Complaining about a choice you made as a woman and mother, and the limitations that the choice has imposed on you without doing anything to change it, is objectionable to me as a feminist. As is the implication that to be a good mother you have to ONLY be a good mother. I might be mom, but I was Lauran first and will be Lauran long after my children no longer need me (as much).

Different strokes and all that... but I firmly believe that we do a disservice to our children by not demonstrating how important pursuing a dream/passion is. Whether it is boating, hunting, race car driving, being a lawyer, or writing.
I didn't interpret the article as a complaint, either. She's putting her kids first, which is the right thing to do ... yet as writers often do, her subconscious is working while she is on auto-pilot with the mundane household tasks, as moms often are. Her whole point was how she is making the time to do both. And how writing keeps her sane.

Where in her essay do you see her doing a disservice to her kids? Is it because she takes care of their needs first, and then squeezes in time for herself? I'm just curious.

CDarklock
04-18-2008, 12:25 AM
I fundamentally disagree with subsuming your life to the needs of the family, and then complaining about how little time you get for 'you'.

I disagree with that too, but I'm a man. I don't pretend to understand what it's like for my wife giving up her career to raise the kids, and an argument might be made that children frequently demand time that you really can't refuse to give them.

The canonical example is when it's bedtime Thursday night, and they suddenly inform you the diorama for their science assignment is due tomorrow, or that you've been committed to bake sixty cupcakes for the bake sale. Even though you've probably blocked out a nice chunk of "me time" for after your child goes to bed, suddenly, you don't get it - instead, you have to stay up till the wee hours of the morning preparing the things your child just remembered, giving up not only all your "me time" but also a sizeable chunk of your beauty sleep.

As a dad, I have the same kind of issue in less exasperating forms. (Although, as a former pastry chef, I'll probably be the one who has to do cupcakes until dawn if that situation ever arises.) The other day, I was a little morose and dejected, and my son wanted me to come out and play with him. I said I didn't feel well, and he said in the cutest little plaintive voice "but I love you, Daddy". How can you turn down something like that? I went out and played with him. I can't complain too much about that, because honestly, it was fun. Dads often have it easy that way.

It's only in retrospect that you start griping about the "me time". When you're giving it up, it's clearly the right thing to do, and it's only when you look at the clock and realise you don't get to sleep tonight that you heave a great sigh and wonder why you ever had kids. But it won't be more than a couple hours before you remember, so you take it in good humor.

timewaster
04-18-2008, 01:09 AM
I didn't mean to imply that being a stay at home mom was somehow objectionable because I am a feminist. Complaining about a choice you made as a woman and mother, and the limitations that the choice has imposed on you without doing anything to change it, is objectionable to me as a feminist. As is the implication that to be a good mother you have to ONLY be a good mother. I might be mom, but I was Lauran first and will be Lauran long after my children no longer need me (as much).

Trust me, I am personally far too selfish to subsume myself but I was lucky enough to find a job I could do from home and although the pay is crap the hours are flexible, it stimulates my mind and bad mother though I am, I still think I am of more use here than in an office. Other people's circumstances differ and, as I went back to full time work when my first child was four months old, I really do know where working Mum's are coming from.
However, what kind of human being does not occasionally put another person first, particularly the dependent kind? I think in emphasising the inidividual we do risk denigrating some pretty important character traits. Why is writing more important than caring? I honestly don't think it is, though it gives a greater ego boost.
All of us juggle and make our own priorities, but I dislike the notion that some work is of greater intrinsic worth and that being creative with a family is somehow more laudable than being a damn good mother/ housekeeper/ friend and all round good egg.



Different strokes and all that... but I firmly believe that we do a disservice to our children by not demonstrating how important pursuing a dream/passion is. Whether it is boating, hunting, race car driving, being a lawyer, or writing.

There is a time and a place for everything. I don't believe in driving yourself to achieve some ego related goal when other peope have to pay the price. YMMV

WittyandorIronic
04-18-2008, 06:08 AM
Hmmm...I realize my posts were a little more negative than necessary. Her essay is fine, it just isn't directed at a life style or mentality I share. I would not (and do not) handle the situation in the way she did, by writing in the cracks of life. Feminism, or just my obnoxiously blunt personality(:)), but I much prefer to set aside time for me to write, and my kids to pursue an activity they feel particularly passionate about. I think this has the added benefit of also teaching them how important it is to pursue dreams and goals. I wouldn't consider it shirking my duty to them, but rather setting a good example. Which is what I meant about "disservice".


... but I firmly believe that we do a disservice to our children by not demonstrating how important pursuing a dream/passion is. Whether it is boating, hunting, race car driving, being a lawyer, or writing.

Mandy-Jane
04-18-2008, 06:51 AM
Just out of interest, Wa/oI, how old are your kids? I only ask because the writer of the article obviously has young kids who demand more of her attention. Maybe yours are a little older and you have more time and are more easily able to set aside that time?

Monkey
04-18-2008, 07:13 AM
I am a feminist and a stay-at-home mom. My kids are 16, 3, and 1. Right now, the two smallest pretty much absorb my waking life. My one-year-old can't just be put in another room or sat down in front of a movie when Mommy wants writing time.

No, there are mouths to feed, teeth to brush, diapers to change, books to read, dishes to wash, games to play...it goes on and on and on. But I have an intense desire to write, and all day I fight an internal battle. The kids are playing quietly! I'll write! Then one smacks the other - tears - and suddenly, I feel such guilt for not watching them closer. I've tried giving up writing...just for a couple of years, just until the kids are a little older...but then I feel unfulfilled and regretful. This paragraph really resonated with me:



I know mothers, stay-at-home moms, who are totally fulfilled being "just moms." I think how complete it must feel –- clean dish towel folded by the sink, sack lunches made for tomorrow, another days' work done. But a fault line threatens destruction if immobilized for too long. When I don't write I am restless, anxious. I feel as though I've lost my voice, muffled beneath the demands of my family, the play-whoops and bickering shrieks of my children, the yelping barks of the family dog –- and worse, silenced by my inner critic that constantly rattles off a list off things I should do, reminding me of my inadequacy in the land of housewifedom.

Yeah. I hear you.

I get a rare moment to myself, look around at my messy house and think "write or clean?" But when I clean, I can't stop thinking about the writing and I get upset knowing that it may be tomorrow or the next day before I get a moment to jot my ideas down (by which time they will be largely forgotten), and when I write, I feel guilty for not taking care of the mess first.

I'm sure it will be easier when everyone is out of diapers.

Monkey
04-18-2008, 07:15 AM
And in case anyone's wondering, I'm almost always nursing the smallest and/or playing word games with my 3-year-old while I'm here at AW. :D

I have to concentrate more on my novels than my forum posts.