I enrolled in a writing boot camp this month, and it has me rethinking my schedule so that I can fit more time in for writing.
With three children in school, in theory I should have lots of time for writing. And yet, I don’t. There is exercising and erranding, cleaning, and laundering and cooking, and I never sit down to write before 1:30.
More than once, writers have given me the very useful piece of advice that when the children are out of the house, forget about housework and write. My writing coach gave me the same lecture. She asked me if I view myself as a professional housekeeper or a writer, and in five years time, would I like to say I had a very clean house, or you wrote a book?
It is nothing I haven't asked myself before, and the answer, for me, is both. When I am dead the things I want my children to say of me include, “My mother kept a good home, she taught me well, and was within normal parameters of crazy.”
I am not a Writer, because I do not get paid to Write. I am a Housewife Who Likes to Write. If I met you at a party and introduced myself as a Writer, you would be correct to think me a pretentious asshole.
Keeping a blog is not the same thing as Writing, but it is a good exercise for Writing, if you are so inclined. It would be awesome if more people read this blog, or someone paid me to write, but if I were interested in monetizing, or networking with other bloggers I would be doing those things. At this point blogs are a dime a dozen, and I missed the window in the early aughts where readership magically built. The only way to do it now is to aggressively market oneself, something I am unwilling and incapable of doing. I cringe whenever I send this blog out to my mailing list, because it smacks too much of self-promotion. When I started this blog, the subject matter was a bit more serious, and occasionally write about ISSUES, but it has evolved into a chronicle of things I find delightfully absurd.
I have an idea for a book, about something absurd that I lived through in my twenties, and I have made a few tentative steps toward writing it. I am not one teeming with ideas for books, or stories that need to be written. This blog is a journal, and because as my children get older I am more mindful of not mining their lives for material, more and more, my subject is me.
I write to amuse myself, and so that when I do die, in addition to admiring what a good home I kept, my children will have a document of WHAT I WAS LIKE, and WHAT THEY DID WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG, and tangible proof that their mother, the housewife, in addition to being a good cook and keeping a fine home, was funny and interesting. I write because it is important to have a life of the mind, and a life of my own, and for my children see that I have both. I write because I don’t find much satisfaction in volunteering at the schools, but my children are old enough that I want more in my day, and my life, besides housework. But it is not okay with me to tell my children to get their own dinner because MOMMY IS BUSY WRITING.
If my book gets written but never published, that would be okay too, because I will have the satisfaction of having done it. My children will have a piece of family history, and could marvel at my rapier wit, and my slightly jaundiced, but ultimately life-affirming outlook. Of course, this is not entirely true, because if that were the case, I would just file this journal away on my hard drive.
I enjoy being a housewife. My younger, more strident self is surprised by how deeply satisfying I find it. I like being here when my children get home from school, and fixing them snacks of cocoa and non-microwaveable popcorn. I like baking cookies for their lunchboxes. I enjoy mulling about what I am going to serve for dinner, and like having it on the table when David gets home from work. And since I’m already wearing an apron, I would happily hand him a gin on the rocks if he wanted it, without feeling the least bit demeaned.
Or perhaps these are just a few of the things I tell myself to guard against self-doubt. Or because I am lacking ambition. In which case, maybe I should just shut up and get a job.