Guess what I just found? A letter I wrote for someone else that was actually intended for the 2019 mother-of-three edition of Elissa Joy Watts. If you’re a writer (or a creative person in general) and parenting has you maxed, I’m sure you’d benefit from this too.
I wrote this to a beautiful human two and a half years ago. At the time, she had just stepped into the vortex called motherhood and, like nearly all women, was struggling to rewire her life accordingly. Her dream of finally going out on her own and starting a family was coming true.
Raising babies is exhausting. I can only imagine raising a business at the same time is worse. Maybe like juggling water balloons blindfolded? The stakes are much, much higher though, that’s for sure.
If I remember correctly, she fired a question to the masses over Facebook, something along the lines of, “MOMS! How do you do it? How do I keep working and writing content with all this other stuff going on?! Like, how am I supposed to shower?!”
At the time, I was navigating apartment life in Scotland with Isaac and Lucy, two hamsters desperate for wheels. Bad weather. Close quarters. Not awesome.
I had dreams, go-getter ones. My writing goals sat beside me like grumbling passengers flying standby, excited but also disconnected from hope. Friends will confirm I am not that kind of person. I’m a “Hey look! This glass is half full and there’s a jug on the table!” kind of girl, at least most of the time.
I loved being a mom–still do–but I was beginning to feel a sense of urgency to give birth to a different baby: a book. Mom’s can be authors too, I thought. I didn’t want to be a late-bloomer. I know it’s nonsense now but at the time I saw myself as a failure who would never see my dream come true.
But then Tiffany came along. She lovingly shook sense into me with her piercing blue eyes.
So when my friend sent out her desperate call for help, instead of chiming in with a practical comment praising dry shampoo, I wrote her this. I’m sharing it publicly because, in reality, these words were destined for me tonight. Maybe you’ll appreciate them too. xo
I want to share what another writing mother told me about a year ago. Her name is Tiffany.
Tiffany is a stunning human being. Her character is rich and sincere. I find nothing synthetic about her. Her thoughts run deep; her heart beats strong.
She has children. Three, I think. I can’t remember exactly how old they are now but somewhere between 9 and 16 is probably accurate. She continues to teach and homeschool and run and write and, and, and. You get the idea. It’s the red lipstick, I swear.
And yet there is this mystical stillness about her. She is magnetic.
We stood together on a sprawling lawn one afternoon. I confessed to her that I felt stuck in my writing. “People tell me I have a gift and I have so much I want to say but I feel like I have to keep fighting for the time and space and clarity. Life is so exhausting right now. I’m frustrated.”
“Remind me, Elissa. How old are your kids?”
“Four and two.”
She reached out her hand and laid it on my arm. She gave me this intense look. Silence followed. Her face softened, acknowledging my pain. Then the tears began to roll.
And that’s when she told me she had to wait several years before she could properly capture the things stirring in her head and heart. She referred to a watershed moment as a young mother where she finally gave herself the grace to celebrate her lack of writing.
Instead, she quietly ushered her thoughts to the parking lot of her mind and focused on the joyful chaos immediately within her care.
She said that as soon as the kids no longer demanded her with the same ravenous intensity, all her wandering thoughts crystallized and returned. The clarity she experienced was almost supernatural.
From that moment on, she could write freely. Better still, the maturity she possessed after a season of stillness enriched her writing. She was better for the delay.
So I just want to encourage you. Don’t scold yourself for writing less than you did before motherhood swallowed you whole.
Enjoy your showers and clean hair. Enjoy cuddles with your sweet babe. The noise with little kids is intense and I wish I could say it will subside in six months but it won’t. In the best possible way, it will all get more chaotic and wonderful.
You may see your writing margin shrink more and, if you’re like me, you will likely mourn the loss. BUT!!!! In time, it will return and it will be glorious.
You’re a star.
PS. Jacki is killing it. She’s delightful. And just look how clean her hair is!
One thought on “a letter to weary writers”
This is just perfect Elissa. Thank you for sharing. I have (quiet) plans for my writing, and other work that I never seem to have the time to get around to. But I’m trying to surrender to it, to let “motherhood swallow me whole”, for now, while they’re still so little.