Squeezing Writing In Around Life:
My Writing Life While Raising Four Children
by Chynna Laird
One of the questions I get asked most often is, “Where on earth do you find the time for writing with four young children?” Believe me, there are days I wonder the very same thing. But I’ve come to realize that writing isn’t just something I love to do, it’s something I need to do. It helps keep me in touch with that part of myself that isn’t “Mama,” and that’s very important—for all of us. Allow me to explain.
I’m actually a late bloomer as far as getting into writing professionally. It’s not that I never had the time to write I was simply too nervous having my work out there for everyone to read. I mean, who the heck would have been interested in what I had to say? But as time went on, my courage increased with each story or article I’d let the world see until I’d made it almost a full-time gig. Then my Jaimie was born and writing had to stop temporarily.
I knew very early on that my miracle girl struggled with something. None of us knew what it was and she tried telling us in her own ways but we didn’t understand. After two years, we finally got someone—a fantastic OT named, Donna—to listen to our pleas. After a few hours with Jaimie she told us Jaimie had Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Now I’m the sort of person who can deal with anything as long as I have the information. I read every book available at that time, read articles, did online research and absorbed myself completely in understanding this mystery “SPD.”
You see there is much debate on whether SPD is a “real” disorder despite the fact that thousands of families are afflicted by it and tons of research backs it up. That made me angry. I lived with Jaimie each and every day watching how the tiniest things in her environment bothered her and caused her pain—things the rest of us take for granted—and yet it’s still considered “invisible.” That’s when I started writing again.
My passion to help my daughter by helping others understand her became my writing goal. Plus writing for me is therapeutic—it helps me re-focus on what’s important, calms me down when I’m not able to turn my mind off and gets rid of any of residue from the day’s stressors. Most importantly, it makes me feel like I’m doing something proactive in helping Jaimie since I can’t change the world so it doesn’t hurt her, cause her confusion or distress. I can, however, help that world accept her for who she is and see things through her eyes. And now you know how squeezing that writing time in is so important to everyone in my house.
Hey! You can do it too. Really. I used to get frustrated when I wasn’t able to sit for a writing session for a specified amount of time until I realized I still could. I just needed to write around my life. I took my little Neo keyboard with me to Jaimie’s therapy sessions, typing madly in the waiting room. I stole bits of time during nap or snack times or when the kids were preoccupied with their one half-an hour show I let them watch. Then I stayed up later after they all (finally) fall asleep. When you give yourself those snippets of time throughout the day, it’s like having an expresso. It gives you extra brain energy until the next snippet you’re allowed to have. (Of course, if you’re writing a novel, you may want to wait until you get those larger blocks of time otherwise it will take forever!)
The most important thing to do is be easy on yourself. Don’t get frustrated if you have a day where the kids need you more than usual and won’t let you escape for a little while—it happens to me all the time. I just remind myself that for every nonproductive day, I get a couple of really productive ones in where I get tons of time to make up the difference.
I look at it this way: God gave me this amazing gift. I may not be the best writer in the world but darn it, I’m right up there with some of the most passionate! My writing has taken on a very specific purpose now, which helps me make that time for writing each and every day—even if it’s just for a few minutes. When I think, “I just don’t have the time today!” I simply look down on Jaimie’s earnest little face and think about how brave she was just getting out of bed that morning to face what her environment had in store for her. And that gives me strength to forge ahead.
Keep writing, Mamas! It matters and it’s so important.