Monday, June 18, 2007

The Great Balancing Act, by Yours Truly

Before becoming a stay-at-home mama last November, I researched the idea pretty extensively. I talked to as many friends as I could who knew the stay-at-home routine well and who I knew would give me honest answers. I could see the worry in their eyes when I told them that I was considering the change. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

When the decision was finalized, I made to-do lists for everything to avoid being, you know, "bored" -- because I thought life raising twin toddlers was going to leave me feeling, hum-drum.

As it turns out, that autumnal November day also turned me into a work-at-home mama. Since I had spent many years writing for full-time for daily newspapers, freelance writing came easy for me. It was also something I had been dabbling in while working full-time.

What I didn't realize is exactly how busy I would become. Rejecting assignments was difficult when we needed all the extra cash we could get. I was lucky to have so much work. But doing it all became an obsession. And, on top of that, I had started this blog, which rapidly become an addiction.

Mix the two, and here's what you get: waking at the crack of dawn to get prepared for the day and write a blog post, writing and making calls during each morning and afternoon nap, and then returning to it all as soon as bedtime routine was finished ... it was a constant cycle. Two Fridays ago, I gladly turned in my last assignments, hoping for a break, for some peace of mind.

What I got, instead, was a big fat bowl of depression. I'd rarely experienced such lows and, therefore, I worried myself, worried that my chosen life as a Mom, in general, was too much for me. The low moods didn't strike when my beautiful, silly girls were in my presence, but rather during their naps and at bedtime -- times I would have normally been working hard on writing projects.

In fact, I had too much time to think about what I didn't have, mainly close family members to visit and help me entertain my babies. Had I been too busy writing that I neglected someone? Was my time at the computer screen all that I had? Granted, we got out of the house, we went walking, went to the park (imagine that?), went to the store. Life did keep going for us. But, was it enough? Did I need more than that? Where were my friends? And, my low writing self-esteem reared its ugly head as well. That's another post for another day.

I realized this week that I need to be busy. I need to have lots of work to do. I need each day to be filled to the brim.

So I was so happy to learn yesterday that I will be blogging twice a week for a local regional parenting publication starting next week, that another publication asked me to take on another assignment, and that one more story came my way. I'll be busy, but I'll be happier.

Writing and storytelling has always been my outlet. I had forgotten what it means to let that go. Now, I know and will appreciate the Great Balancing Act better this time around.

What keeps you sane? What do you need in order to keep your spirits high? What motivates you to keep going? What's your creative outlet? If you blog about this topic, please link back to me and let me know. If you are new here, introduce yourself and leave a comment. If you've been lurking, come out of the shadows and say hello.


Kasie Sallee said...

I just recently found your blog and have been enjoying your great posts. This one truly hits home for me. I am a stay-at-home mom to 2 little girls and I love it. But I am also an artist and I decided that, this year, I would begin to make my art more of a priority. It is a hard thing to balance all the hats we wear as moms. But I have come to realize that art is not just something that I do. It is who I am. I am an artist. Just as writing isn't something you simply do. You are a writer. And when I deny or ignore a part of who I am, it makes me less of a Mother for my girls. I have come to realize that I am a much better Mother to them when I also make time for my art.
Thanks for writing!

Shannon said...

Everyone always asks "geez, how do you find time to write with twins?" At first I was stunned. Time? What does time have to do with staying sane? :-) Seriously, I know exactly how you feel. I also write during their morning & afternoon nap. Being a stay at home mom is a very isolating thing to be. Writing not only fulfills me, but also keeps me busy so I don't notice the absence of other adults in my days!
Congrats on the new projects!

Anonymous said...

Boy, that is great on your new assignments. They should keep you busy!! Or should I say busier. Congratulations!!!!! I know you will do a great job. Love M.M.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Obviously writing is what keeps me sane. But it is hard to balance with kids, especially two that no longer nap, but are not yet self-sufficient. Um, I'm writing this comment with my laptop in the kitchen while I make breakfast.

Gail said...

Hi Shawn-
I am lurking about and found your blog through BlogHers Act. Thought I'd say 'hello.' I grappled with these motherhood-career issues about 20 years ago. I really could have used the internet, blogging, flickr, and email then--boy, could have I! The day I was able to quit my full time job to work part time out of the house was momentous. I was accruing too many unpaid "favor-debts" from other mothers who helped drive my daughter to softball practice, helped my son out in day care. You will do fine. Sounds like you have a thriving writing career.

Luther said...

What keeps me sane? I'm sorry, I don't understand the question.

Candace & Anna said...

I have just found your website and am trying to catch up. I love your writing it is so clear and heartfelt! What keeps me sane? That is a good question. I don't have a creative outlet really although I love playing with writing on my blog and one I have set up for family "written" by my daughter. The only thing that keeps me sane as a SAHM is nowing that what I do is making Anna a better person and making the world a better place because of her. That and the weekly trips to the market, beach, park and anywhere else we can sneak off too lol. Congrats on your new assignments I will be checking back later.