Sometimes I’m in awe of how much moms are capable of! Here three fantastic women who are not only great moms but also gifted poets share how they make it all work.
As a poet, I still find inspiration to write all the time, everywhere. I record these moments of inspiration as best I can, in a notebook, on the smartphone, etc. When I do have a moment free, at night, early in the morning, between appointments at work, I turn to these scraps of insight and try my best to be as efficient with those precious moments as possible and simply write.
Motherhood forces you to be very efficient with your time and energy, especially as a creative individual.
My best advice is to steal those moments to create when you can, stay connected, and try not to be too hard on yourself. Our children are small for such a brief time; soon they are in school, heading away. I value this time now with my son as my primary role, and I do what I can to cultivate a quiet and slow creative life so it is there to pick up again when my son is too busy with friends and school to need me as much.
Poet mamas, please don’t hate me, but the only way I could figure out how to be a mom and still write was to switch genres. Free verse means reinventing the wheel of style and subject every time I sit down to write; it means having lots of time to read poems and let the words stew and stare at the wall and read some more and find a first line and follow those sounds and wait and listen and stare at the wall and write another line—I no longer had that kind of quiet or time.
Having a book-length project for poems helped, but not enough, so I started writing fiction. Because every day, if I could grab an hour or two at nap, I could sit right down at the computer and pick up where I left off the day before. All I had to ask myself was, “What happens today?” But I hope someday when my son is in school full time to find time for the poems again. I feel diminished without poetry in my life every day.
Find more of Megan’s work here.
I write when I can, and more important, to me at least, is learning not to self-flagellate when I can’t, which is often. I need to be a good parent to be a good writer, and there are no percentages around that, no lines dictating when and where and how to write.
So—I write on receipts I’ve rummaged for under the car seats. I write on the margins of preschool newsletters, and I write on my phone, much as I hate to admit that. I write in my head. I’ve become skilled at dictating in a kind of shorthand what I want to remember and plumb later. This is my daily practice.
Maybe once a week I’m able to carve out an expanse of time to transcribe my notes into the rough architecture of poems. As my kids get older, as I get more sleep, as my work life becomes more scheduled, these dynamics will shift, and I’ll have to—I’ll get to—reconfigure all of it. This is the practice of living and the practice of writing.
Find more of Ellen’s work here.
Are you able to find time to be creative while taking care of your little ones? Leave a comment to tell us how you do it all.