Wednesday, June 13, 2012

writing or parenting?


"Sure, it's simple, writing for kids . . .
Just as simple as bringing them up." ~Ursula K. LeGuin


I can't decide whether it is harder to write good sentences, or raise children. Lately, both feel equally difficult. And when I am doing one, the other waits in the wings beckoning me. Then when I go to the other, the first is silently stalking my mind. Neither come terribly easily, but during this past school year, I have had a chance to focus on just one for several hours a day.  Then come 2:30 I switch gears over to the other.  With a mere handful of days of school left, I am beginning to realize that any balance I might have taken for granted, will be coming to an end.  My writing time will be solely those summertime moments when the kids are otherwise occupied and I can steal a thought to myself. 

When I write, there is plenty of that time that includes sitting staring off into space, wondering what words are going to come out while coffee keeps me alive.  Some words are ripped, dragged and pulled with great force out of my brain.  Sometimes only a few splutters of letters create themselves onto the page.  Most of the time I write things that make no sense.  Hoping that later I can go back and find the sense that was attempting to form on the pen tip.  Though it often seems like little gets accomplished in those writing hours, somehow things get written and rewritten, and in not too shabby a way. 

When I parent, it is not terribly different.  Children must be dragged out of bed, pleadingly encouraged to eat, driven all over town while coffee props my eyelids open.  There are endless meals to make, and tummies to fill.  I coerce words out of the teenager about all her nonstop requests for events to attend and rides to various places, in an attempt to have some remedial understanding of her life.  I force my brain to not fall out of my head by sheer will at the endless asking from the little boy to watch the amazing sports moves, lego creations, frog catching, and every other single thing he does.  And though it often seems like I am not accomplishing much in all this, somehow kids get fed, keep on growing, and appear to be surviving fairly well.

However, it is next to impossible for me to mix the two.  I cannot write with the family in the house.  I am always on my guard, waiting for the next interruption; a cry of lego frustration, a question of why the printer isn't working, a request for more watermelon or juice. Even a retreat to the outdoors, or sending the kids outside, lasts mere moments. 

I have no conclusion whether writing or parenting is easier or harder... in the summer it doesn't really matter. The ride requests, the requests to be watched, the need for food and fun and popsicles will begin coming fast and furiously.  Agatha Christie says that "The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."  I think she also meant to include in that quote- driving teenagers across town to the mall, sitting in the sun watching a little boy swing, and slicing watermelon.  Good thing too.  Because while the pen might not get used much this summer, there are plenty of dishes, driving, and watching kids grow in my future. 

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