Why this New Mommy is Making Time for Herself and Refuses to Feel Guilty about it

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On October 15–just two short months ago–I welcomed a beautiful, “little” 11 lb 6.4 oz girl into this world. And I feel as if I’ve changed so much throughout pregnancy and new mommyhood, too. I’m not as quick-witted as I once was, I rarely have time for anyone or anything other than my precious, little bundle, and I’m just plain exhausted.

Still, I wouldn’t trade Baby Phoenix for the world. While part of me bemoans the fact that the day seems to end just as quickly as it started and that little if anything from my ever-growing to-do list has actually been completed, I love, love, love being a mommy.

So why then have I unapologetically decided that I need to take back some time from my infant daughter, who depends on me and her daddy for literally everything in her world? 

It’s simple, really. I want her to know me–not some wrung-out, zombirific version of myself.  As she grows I want her to know her mama is smart, ambitious, creative, and has dared to follow her dreams. I want her to know that since I’m all these things, she can be, too.

the-writer2And the number one way I can do this for myself–and for her, too–is to keep writing.

When my pregnancy complications began to surface in the late first trimester, I reluctantly admitted to myself that I’d probably have to give up writing to make time for this big new part of my life.

When my brain went completely kaput in the second trimester and my vocabulary started to fail me, I officially had to stop writing, though I told myself it was only for a little while.

When my vision started to get sketchy due to the preeclampsia I developed in my third trimester, I knew I wouldn’t start writing again any time soon.

And when my preeclampsia actually worsened in the month and a half following delivery leading to hypertension, I decided I was done writing for good–and that, no, I didn’t, no, I wouldn’t miss it.

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves…

Now that my baby is sleeping better and my hypertension has vanished, I’m starting to feel a bit like myself again–and a bit restless, too. I see my friends online discussing their latest writing triumphs, and I feel nostalgic. The fans who’ve stood by me through all my delays remind me how excited they are for book #3 in my series, and I feel guilty.

Nope, there’s no way I can stop writing for good.

stop-writingWriting is such a big part of who I am. With 9 children’s books, 3 novels, 1 novella, and countless bits and pieces of other things under my belt, writing is, in fact, something I’ve worked very hard at over the years. I’ve learned how to take the seed of an idea and grow it into a mighty novel.  I’ve learned how to build characters readers care about and to create plot twists nobody saw coming. I’ve learned how to eliminate passive voice, reduce SOB verbs, drop “I-bombs,” and minimize adverbs and adjectives.

In short, I’ve learned how to say something with my words.

I fought for the title of author; grasping that elusive, golden ring has made me quite proud of myself. So, then, what is my daughter supposed to think if she finds out I gave up this huge part of my life for her? I don’t think she’d feel very good.

And if I give up the single, biggest defining characteristic of who I am, will my daughter–can my daughter–ever really know the real me?

Phoenix SnugglesLike the baby in my arms, I lovingly nurtured this craft. Now that it’s harder to care for, how can I just let it die? 

The short answer is:  I can’t. I must keep writing.

Even though it may seem selfish to escape the house and head to my favorite coffee shop for some much coveted writing time or to ask my husband to respond to her cries because I’m “in the middle of something,” I’m not going to feel guilty.

After all, my precious baby girl will be right there waiting for me when I get back, and we can hug and snuggle and giggle then :-)

With much love,

Em



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14 Comments

  1. Kai

    I REALLY needed to read this today. And Phe’s just a doll!

    • Thank you, Kai. I feel like you and I have been rocking back and forth in this same darned boat all year. Here’s to 2014 being a better one!

  2. Mary Duke

    <3 Awe! I'm glad you are coming back, and being yourself is the most important thing you can teach your daughter!

    • Thank you, Mary. It took me long enough, but I am learning as I go :-)

  3. Mary Metcalfe

    This is so motivational Em. Yes – writing is part of who you are and who I am. I took a break from my writing since last fall after three novels in a year. I was exhausted. Reading this post reminds me that there are a lot of people who want me to write another book, including you ;-) Thank you for helping me with my motivation … I needed this!

    • Yes, yes, yes! The world needs your optimism and kindness, Mary. There are so few happy books out there, which makes yours so, so special. Back to writing now for the both of us!

  4. Go Emlyn! It’s so important to make time for you and write! I’m learning that too!

    • Thanks, Milda. I know your journey back to writing is probably a million times more difficult, but you have two daughters to teach these lessons to! No pressure, and, hey, we’re in this thing together :-)

  5. Great post, and so true. I gave up writing during pregnancy and by the time my boys were 6 months old, I was really itching to write again. And these guys really supercharged my creative spirit. You rock for making time for yourself and your dreams, too. It makes the whole family happier when you’re doing EVERYTHING you love and I believe that positive spirit is noticed by our babies. ;)

    • Thanks, Emily. It’s nice to hear from someone who has been through this and gotten to the other side. It’s hard carving out the time, but it’s absolutely a must <3

  6. You have chosen wisely. :)

    • And my Holy Grail, at least for this year, will be a completed, printed, published copy of Pitch held betwixt my hands :-)

  7. Thank you, Em. I’ve been in limbo since handing in my last book. It’s taking an inordinately long period of time to work its way through the publishing system and my frustration has taken the form of lethargy–not just in my writing but in my life. Your post has reminded me of that I’ve worked too hard to be a writer to throw it away because someone else has thwarted my publishing schedule. It’s back to the keyboard for me with a new story and some other changes in my career. And congratulations on your beautiful daughter.

  8. It is so important for our children to see us working on what we are passionate about. Excellent post! I have a toddler and a 6 month old so I completely understand :)