Balancing Act

Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother shook her head at me, marveling at all the things I do. “I admire you,” she said, “but I don’t know how you do it.”


I couldn’t think of a good response, especially since my brain was frozen on the ten children that Grandma raised, each and every one a good, kind soul and a productive member of society. I have grown up with the belief that there is no higher calling than motherhood. Yet the creative urge is like an itch I have to scratch. If I believed I wasn’t supposed to take time to write, I would squelch it. But the Spirit blows where It will, and my particular set of charisms requires me to juggle a lot of different interests and responsibilities.


I do worry, though, about finding the right balance. Writing—for me, at least—requires concentrated effort and chunks of time. Some people can write in five-minute snippets and do a good job. I can’t. Some people can write late at night. I can’t. (I can, actually, but then I can’t sleep.) So nap time is my time.


However, if I wait till nap time to start thinking about what I’m going to write, I still won’t get anything done. So every moment that I can spare during my day is spent multi-tasking, with my body performing one set of actions while my brain pursues another course. Here is my quandary. Shouldn’t I spend those moments in the car brainstorming fun, free activities to do with my children? Shouldn’t I take the time spent washing dishes coming up with creative solutions to parenting problems? Shouldn’t I spend at least some of that time thinking about my kids rather than my characters, songs, essays and blog entries?


Then again, I draw comfort from a John Rosemond column I read recently. I’m a big fan of Rosemond, by the way. He suggested that good parents can and in fact should have interests that they take time to pursue, even though those pursuits will prevent them from spending every waking moment with their children. This, he suggests, helps children develop both independence (parental attention is addictive—the more they get, the more they want), and the recognition that they are not the center of the universe. Now, that’s not to say I have the right to ignore my kids altogether. It just validates my attempts to walk the tightrope that allows me to get some writing done.


Even if it does take all day to write a single blog entry, in between feeding, listening to “I love you, you love me,” diaper changes, and building railroads. (Plus some outside interests!)