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Measuring Mother Time

Many years ago, I set aside my writing dreams so that I could raise my child wholeheartedly. For me, writing isn't just the act of typing down words, but imagining scenes, viewing the world through the lens of characters, changing my speech patterns so I can get into natural rhythm with those of the story. I feared having all of this warp my mothering, and so I did not write. Instead I knitted, sewed, baked, made fleece fairies and gnomes, taught, drew, and expressed my creativity so fully in a myriad of ways that I never missed that one.

But I am a writer in my soul, and as soon as I felt it reasonable to return to that, I did. At first, it was difficult, because I had always been a closed-door writer ... which is to say, I wrote in a room alone, with the door shut and the world forgotten. I had to learn how to write at the heart of the house, with noise all around me and frequent interruptions. For I understand that mothers need alone time of course, and I took that time myself for respite and refreshment, but because motherhood never drew from me, it added to me and enriched me, I never had an impulse to separate myself from it. If I was to write, it would be as a mother; I would weave my writing into my mothering. So my door was always open.

As an open door writer, I did not have great swathes of time in which to write. Nor could I spend all day half-lost in my imagination, for beasts and wicked sorcerers roamed there, alongside resourceful maidens and fretful knights, and these things tend to be distracting. So I had to draw upon Mother-time.

Those of you who are parents surely know what I mean. Mother-time doesn't go by the patriarchal clock. Nor is it a stretching-out. Instead, it is a deepening of small moments.

It is the way parents have of being instantly ready to dive down into dreaming the second they get the chance. It is the full grasp of peace or wonderment. The intensity of doing (but with a gentle consciousness so you don't go mad.)

Now that I am in a quieter phase of life, I find myself at a bit of a loss when it comes to writing. I have hours of quiet and solitary calm - all the time I need. And it feels too quiet. I am having to learn all over again how to write alone.

art by lee s. hee


  1. You have described motherhood beautifully!

  2. i felt that motherhood was all-absorbing. my baby was "high need", didn't nap, slept fitfully for years, and i was rather ill after delivery. so perhaps i simply had no energy to spare for other endeavours! but words and images kept coming to mind, and sometimes i would jot a few down on random bits of paper. i don't think i actually surfaced from mothering until my daughter was going to kindergarten. i'm not like you; i can't think well when there is much going on around me. i can't move easily from one type of consciousness to another. in hindsight, i am profoundly thankful that the internet (and mobile devices on which to view it) wasn't much of a thing when my daughter was young, because it would have been a constant temptation, distracting me with its siren call of all the things to read and see, and write about... it's amazing to me that you were able to shift gears and write in small deep moments amongst your parenting day as you did. i haven't that talent, and would have been bad at all of it. how lovely it must be to have a more flexible mind!

  3. I think that I had the same dilemma with my art work. So glad that you were able to return to your writing albeit an altered form. Once we are mothers I don't think that we ever go back to that place where we began. We are always on call even when our babies are all grown and flown.


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