I have only ever been a mother. Are those your words, too?
For two decades of motherhood, I wrote between the lines. My journal, forty pages of a novel here, a disjointed story there. Writing in fits and starts. A cabinet full of beginnings.
Some of my words stumbled into print, but those were accidental bursts of belief. Mostly, I didn’t write. I had a good excuse, you see. I had five good excuses. I still have those five good excuses, although two of them no longer live at home.
And then I gave all my not-writing away. Last year, I tossed out my dog-eared excuses; my ceaseless busy-ness; my refrain of next week, maybe. I made a promise. I started writing, every day. Without fail. This is what matters: my pledge of five hundred words of fiction, minimum. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. The force of habit is a powerful companion. She is beautiful, too.
I write. I write during the hours before dawn. I write at night when I am so tired that I don’t know what I’m writing. I write when my little ones are around. I write when they’re asleep. I write when I’d rather do laundry. I write when my prose is awful, because awful prose is entirely the point.
There is no free pass. Because the free pass I used to rely on was as kind as a bottle of sleeping pills. I don’t need a free pass. I need to write.
And now I no longer reach for the shoehorn, the alibi, the self-flagellation. I have shed those skins, just as my children outgrow their cribs, their training wheels, their braces, their learner’s permits. Taking the place of what I let go, I find gratitude and truth. I have become a more spacious self, a more generous mother-heart, a writer because I am writing.
by Miranda Hersey
Miranda Hersey is a writer and editor, creativity coach, and host of the blog Studio Mothers. As a business owner and the mother of five, Miranda is passionate about helping others live deeply satisfying, creative lives. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Globe Magazine, Wild Apples, Sun Magazine, Bay Area Parent, the Parent Review, and Exceptional Parent, among other publications. Her short story, “Learning to Cook,” was shortlisted for the 2004 Raymond Carver Short Fiction Award. She lives in rural Massachusetts, happily overrun with people, books, and animals. When you feel like procrastinating, connect with Miranda at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.