My kids from time to time complain about having a writer mom. Especially when I'm working under deadline and have to get an article done NOW! so I can't play with them. Or worse, when I'm hot into a scene and don't even hear what they are saying to me. And then, when they finally break through into my consciousness, I get cranky because they've broken my concentration. Yeah, it can definately not be fun having a writer mom sometimes.
Carol Emshwiller tells the best story about how she set up her "office" in a corner of the family room and walled herself off from her kids with a playpen that she took apart and reassembled into a mini-fence. She was there if something dire happened but it gave her enough space to work. Ursula Le Guin mentioned once that her kids were very sheltered when they were young, and didn't realize until much later that not every kid went to bed so early (7 pm) so their mom would have time to write.
When my kids grow up, they are going to talk about how mom would sometimes go to a local hotel just to get away for a day and a half for a writer's retreat. (Thank God for cheap hotels on priceline!) They're going to talk about when mom was writing you had to pinch her to make sure she was listening to you, that or climb on her head (the computer was in her lap). They will also talk about how they helped mom with this story idea or that poem. How they brought her tea when she was too rapt with her words to go to the kitchen. How she was the best friend of every coffee shop proprietor within 15 miles of the house.
Some of the best times we've shared have been trying to make rhymes for song, or coming up with plot details that aren't corny or hyperdramatic. Reading aloud to each other, or listening to tapes of favorite books when we go on driving vacations. Going to cons together -- Tasneem came to WisCon with me and a couple friends one year; this year she and my two daughters and my mom are coming; Saara and I went to a gaming convention and had a blast.
They other thing they will remember are the books I wrote just for them. Stories that were about them, or things that our family does. Noora's Special Eid, written for my oldest, even though my youngest is named Noora, and which I illustrated myself (quite a feat since my drawing skills are not much better than Noora's...). The Attack of the Kiss-Monster Mama, written for Noora, who complained only that it wasn't long enough. The murder mystery that I'm writing for the twins' birthday party (Saara and Ameera and their friend Vicki get to be the detectives; I get to be the victim -- a champion karate competitor -- and her twin sister who's called in a private detective team -- SAVE (Saara, Ameera and Vicki Enterprises)-- to solve the mystery of who killed my sister; and Tasneem and her friends will be the suspects -- Tasneem, the jealous competitor; Chen, coach of a rival team; Joanna, who has been taking private lessons on the sly and owed Pamela lots of money.)
There are days when the kids are tired of having people come up to me and say, I really enjoy reading your column in the Star, and days when they wish I devoted more attention to them, days when they wish I was "just a mom," but those are balanced by days of pure joy and the delight. It's my hope that in their memories the good times will outweigh the bad times, and that as they get older and get jobs, they'll realize that having a "job" as a free-lance and fiction writer gives me a lot more flexibility to be mom, while still letting me use the talents and skills I've been blessed with to (hopefully) make the world a better place for more people than just my family.
Good thing this post is wrapping itself up... I have a lunch date with Noora. Ciao!