Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Forget Writer's Block- I've Got Writer's Guilt

I hadn't planned to blog about this, but apparently I needed to get it off my chest. So, read on at your own peril.

My first day at work was today. The alarm went off at an eye-blearing 3:35 AM. I hit snooze a few times and managed to roll out of bed by 4:00. I tossed on the clothes I'd picked up and dashed on a bit of makeup in the relative dark. Luckily, I did not look like a clown when my eyes fully opened. I scrounged in the spare bathroom for some band-aids (in case I got blisters from my newly purchased work shoes) and popped in to glance at my little cutie sprawled in her crib.

I grabbed my fabulous new handbag (it sounds so much nicer than clearance-priced purse) and rushed out the door, only ten minutes later than I wanted to. I walked to my car (note to self- clean out garage) hoping not to get mugged during that 7 step walk. It's never happened, but leaving at 4:27 in the morning does not instill confidence.

A wonderfully rush-hour-free commute and a detour to avoid a house fire (a house fire at 4:45 in the morning is so freaky!!!) brought me to work on time.

Introductions, help-desk calls, and training followed by a quick call to my mom to see how the sweet pea is doing, then back to work. No lunch, because I'd have to take it at 9:00, and who eats lunch at nine? (Maybe I'll pack breakfast for lunch tomorrow)

Then a quick commute home to see my daughter who prefers climbing into grandma's lap. I don't blame her, grandma's only here for two more days and then I'll get replaced in the affection category by my nieces who love to play with her.

So now I'm trying to get in a moment's blog writing, blog reading, and oh yeah- novel writing without feeling too guilty about not seeing the little one for hours today.

I'm one day in and I'm already feeling the mother's guilt I knew I'd have, added with the writing guilt I have for taking fifteen minutes to write this and read a couple blogs. I promised myself I'd read and write after she goes to bed. But then I have to workout, shower, prep for the next 3:30 wake-up call and go to bed within an hour and a half.

I'd appreciate your advice - how do you do it? How do you manage a family, work, and writing without feeling guilty. How do you give each part your all without being torn to do more for another part?

I plan to write on the novel during lunch at work (once the train the newbie phase is over), and hopefully that will ease the guilt a bit. Hopefully.

picture by ecpica


Windsong said...

Let me just say that you're amazing. I couldn't imagine balancing work and home. You sound like you're doing an incredible job. :) And that your priorities are straight.

I do feel guilty sometimes, but that's because super woman is clamoring to get out. You know the one, she's always saying that if you just try harder and things a little differently, you can get it all done to your satisfaction. She lies.

I guess I'm lucky in a way. I have health problems that require me to take scheduled rests throughout the day. That's when I read and write. Sometimes I steal snatches at other times because if I deplete my resources, there won't be anything left to give to my family. Hard lesson to learn, harder to believe, but true.

Samantha Elliott said...

Wow, this really puts my dilemma about neglecting friends to write into perspective. I don't have any kids, but I did have a working mother. All I can tell you is that I never resented her for working. And, the fact that you're worried about not spending enough time with your adorable little one probably means that you are

I'd suggest that when you start feeling guilty, picture her bringing you to show and tell and introducing you as her mommy, the writer. ;)

Jess said...

I have been living with Mommy guilt for approximately 11 months now. Alexandra was exactly 15 weeks old when I left her in Daddy's arms in the middle of the street. It was awful. I am gone for 11 hours every day and get 1-2 hours with her in the evening. (Maybe that's why she still wakes up to hang out with me in the middle of the night). I must say though I have been blessed with an amazing sitter. I do feel better knowing she is in a loving environment where she learns to socialize and play with other kids. Unfortunately, those good feelings aren't enough to extinguish my Mommy guilt.

I have realized that if I didn't feel guilty about leaving her, I would feel guilty about something else. I think the moment we become mothers our guilt gear kicks in. It is after all, the most important job we will ever have. And the fact that these fabulous little people do not come with instruction manuals only adds to the pressure.

The balancing act is difficult. I still struggle with it. :o) Between babies and husbands and businesses and household tasks I have very little "me" time. - probably explains why my gym visits are still only 2x per week. Fortunately, my husband helps with the menial stuff so that by the time I am done putting her to bed, we both have a little time for ourselves (still looking for time for each other!!).

That, and I function on approximately 5-6 hours of sleep. (not something I recommend)

My advice would be to try not to begrudge yourself for not always being able to do everything as much you'd like. The routine gets easier and the guilt dampens a bit with time. I think you'll find that in a few months, you'll have more time than you do now.

We deserve to take care of ourselves too and our families will be better for it.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ugh. 3:30 in the MORNING?

My hat goes off to you. Seriously. I don't think I'd be very good at balancing AT ALL.

A. Grey said...

So, I have no children, at least not any with pink skin. Mine are covered in fur and vary in size from comfortable lap robe, to around a thousand pounds. And while they aren't human, they're every bit as needy. Well, the horses are, anyhow. Cats are, well, cats, and they only need you when they need you. The rest of the time you're just warm blooded furniture. Horses, they're more along the lines of a three year old human, able to get into EVERYTHING and only capable of getting out of part of what they find.
As far as balancing things go. I'm more of a barger than a balancer. Meaning that I barge onward in my writing, even if it means scribbling illegible notes on a little pad while steering the tractor around potholes and trying to make sure I'm driving into the wind (contrary to a sailor's lucky saying about the wind at your back, you do NOT want the wind at your back while spreading manure!) I'm lucky in the fact that I work on a farm (I would never endure in a cubicle, I'd become some sort of strange Gollum-like creature that hovered constantly near the snack machine and talked to the elevators about the 'outside world') and thusly can sneak breaks to drink water, wherein I'm capable of getting several sentences down. It's more slight of hand than balancing, but whatever gets the words on the paper...