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Guest Blogger Sarah: Write at Home

I love to read how writers become writers, why they write, their influences and journeys, and I just love this post by Sarah from The Crazy Baby Mama.  So, naturally, I've pulled her over to share it on Lit Rambles!  Please check out her blog (particularly if you're a mom!) and enjoy.

Write at Home

Before I was born, my mom spent two years in the Peace Corps. She volunteered in Robert Kennedy's campaign. She worked for the Western Center of Law and Poverty, and served as Chief of Staff for a California Congressman. She was an activist, and an intellectual, and in July of 1981, she became a mother. So, she decided to make a monumental job-change and exchange her high heels for sneakers.

My mom's work-shift started at daybreak -- long before I woke up to the moan of the foghorns, and the smell of coffee brewing in our teeny-tiny house in Venice, California. While my dad showered and shaved, I'd stumble to our dining room table, where she'd bring me a cup of mint tea, and a bowl of Quaker Oats Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal. While I ate, she'd sit next to the open window, sipping her coffee and smoking her third cigarette. The laundry was done, and folded neatly. Lunch -- usually a salami sandwich with extra mustard, a Capri Sun, a baggie of sliced carrots and cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, and sometimes a brownie -- was already tucked away in my neon pink backpack. While we waited for whoever was driving carpool to BEEP BEEP BEEP the horn, my mom would quiz me on my multiplication tables and ask me who I was the most excited about seeing at school.

When I'd come home from school, the house was redolent with the fragrance of dinner. Sometimes, she'd make her famous spaghetti and meat sauce, other times, chicken kabobs, or salmon croquettes. When I had soccer practice, or art class, or Hebrew School, my mom drove, and we'd listen to classical music in the car while she'd fill me in on the latest murder mystery she was reading each night before bed. On evenings when my dad had late-meetings, she would prepare finger sandwiches, and we'd dine daintily like royalty. And sometimes, in the still of the night, when even our cat, Nebbie, was snoring gently, she'd wake me up, and we'd sit by candlelight on the front deck, drink chamomile tea, and eat squares of dark chocolate. We would whisper ghost stories while surrounded by the powerful stillness of midnight.

Still, when asked what she did for a living, my mom would never describe herself as a Stay At Home Mom. Instead, she would tell people that she "worked from home." You see, during the day while I was gone, she would take her coffee and her cigarettes out to the little shed behind our house, and write childrens’ books at a well-worn library table from the 1920‘s. Along with managing the house, cooking, cleaning, and just being home in case I got sick or hurt at school and needed her, this was how she financially contributed to the family. And more importantly, this was how she nourished her creativity and kept her sense of self happy and alive.

When I started to think about having a family -- even before I met Ethan --- I knew that I wanted to follow my mom's example and (if, financially feasible) "work from home." And so, Ethan and I have tried to make it happen: He waltzes off to work every day, and I stay home with Maysie. But still, you can only sing “The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round” so many times before going absolutely bat-shit crazy. Between power-struggles over bath time, scrubbing splattered sweet potato from the floor and walls and -- how did this happen?-- the ceiling, and spending more time with my iRabbit vibrator than I do with my husband, I wonder how my mom made it all look so effortless. As much as I love my family, some days I feel like I stumbled into somebody else’s life. A life of sneakers and sandwiches, of early mornings and sleepless nights. And it was in one of these moments after while listening to Maysie beat her toy xylophone to death for 15 minutes (and wishing – Oh God if only -- I had a screwdriver to jam in my ears), that I began to fully appreciate how important it must have been for my mom to have her creative identity. Certainly, I don’t know how I would survive without it, which is why I’m writing through to the other side of midnight. Again.


Ishta Mercurio said...

Great post. I can identify with this. (Although I didn't try to squeeze in my writing life until my kids were older - infants and toddlers require a certain amount of time and attention, I find.) It is important for mothers, especially the ones who stay home and are consequently surrounded by their kids and husbands and housework constantly, to make time for themselves to just do their own thing. Maybe not every day, but at least every week.

Marsha Sigman said...

Oh My God. I love her.

Chazley Dotson said...

Wow, that is devotion. And wouldn't that story--the story of her mother's life in contrast with hers--make an excellent novel?

Lisa Nowak said...

Ah, Sarah. What lovely memories of your mother. I understand your feelings, and yet I wonder if someday Maysie might write a similar piece about you. Children's memories are selective and not entirely accurate. :)

Abby Minard said...

What a great story- I've been in your shoes (my ceiling-splattering days are over...well with food anyway- now it's paint) with my now 5-year old. But I didn't write back when she was an infant and toddler (I also work, which makes it hard too). I only just really sat down to do anything about my love of writing when she was 4. It's a lot easier now that she's in kidnergarten, but I still feel it. Good luck- all of us moms are standing behind you :)

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Hahaha! That's great. Story of our lives, isn't it? Thank goodness we have an outlet in our writing.

Beth said...

I started writing seriously when my youngest was in kindergarten. That few hours a day was what I needed to get some momentum. Having said that, I do remember driving with her in the car one day when she was still a toddler. She fell asleep in her cat seat, and I pulled into a grocery store parking lot to get a little writing done. In the car!

Katharina Gerlach said...

I can identify with this a lot. Two of my kids are disabled and will, in some respect, always be toddlers. It's so good to have a second, more creative job to balance the effort of being a Mom. Thanks for this post.

Lola Sharp said...

I need my writing even more now that my daughter is in high school. (the PMS and drama!)

Fun post! :)

Have a wonderful week,

Anonymous said...

I agree about the novel potential here, what a great post and a great family. I wish my mum's painting skills had worn off on me then I could be an author/illustrator :)

I will try not to wish my time away with Hannah at home before she goes to kindergarten. They are only young once, you don't have to write every day. (she says on here again!)

Vonna said...

Oh thank you for this link! Sarah is a jewel!

Julia said...

Sounds like you have it together a lot more than you think, Sarah - and one day your daughter will write the same beautiful words about you!

露出 said...