It’s so hard not to compare, even when we know we shouldn’t.
I helped out in my son’s classroom today and I always find myself thinking ‘he’s so clever!’ afterwards. I always catch myself out though and promptly stop it. I think some regular volunteering time in the class has definitely opened my eyes to where some of the kids are at too. They are all start from such different places. True, my 5 yr old is indeed a very intelligent boy, but he has weaknesses in other areas and those are probably not visible to the other parents.
For example, his teacher and I got excited today because he put a costume on in the dressing-up area and was proudly walking around in character (a postman wearing a wedding dress!) Not a big deal for most kids, but Mr 5 has never been interested in dressing up. At the start of the year he seemed lost in the dress-up area, always standing back and watching the other kids but never joining it. He seemed afraid to let himself pretend, more content to be seated at a table and working. Now he loves dressing up and it’s been great to watch this transformation in him.
I started thinking about how my goals for him this year, his first year of school, have been so different from a lot of parents. Where others have been hoping their child might learn to read or write their name or count to ten, I’ve just wanted my son to be happy and confident. It was in part because he was such a clever little cookie already but also because I wanted him to love school, no matter what the work side of things were. I was more concerned with character-building than brain building I guess. He is of course learning new things and increasingly his already alarmingly large academic knowledge but he is also maturing and becoming so much more comfortable in himself. That’s so much more important for him right now.
This time last year he wouldn’t speak to his preschool teachers and was horrified by the idea of talking in front of the group. I didn’t want him to be the shy kid, afraid to be called on in class. I didn’t want him to be like me. This year he has already been excited by giving a talk to the class, and has proudly stepped up in front of everyone at assembly to collect an award.
Every week I help out in his class I reminded of how he is growing up.
It makes me happy.
It’s almost Mothers Day here in Australia and I always find it a time of quiet reflection, especially in the lead up to it. You see I spent most of my life prior to having children hating the day. I dreaded it, in fact. Due to a complicated set of family issues I didn’t have any contact with my mother from the age of 6 until a few years ago. So for me the day was always shrouded in that dark and heavy thing I had to carry around. It was always a day for other people — people who had the thing that I wanted the most.
Now though I love Mothers Day. I know that some people find it strange to be lavished upon by their children but I revel in it. I love their dodgy homemade cards and the little trinkets they make me at school or daycare. I love the stupid I ❤ Mum coffee mugs and the Mothers Day stall treats. I love their intention to let me sleep in despite the fact that I can hear them fighting through the door at some ungodly hour anyway. I love their excitement. I feed on it too.
I also love being a Mum.
I didn’t find the transition to motherhood easy and I well and truly lost myself in it for the first few years. In truth, I’m only just beginning to claw my way back out of the trenches now. It’s hard and messy and unacknowledged a lot of the time but it is so worth it. I take my role seriously too, pouring as much love and experience and fun into my kids as I can. I want them to know that I am always here for them, always looking out for them. I am so many other things but I will always be their Mum. I’m proud to have the opportunity to call myself one.
So Happy Mothers Day to all the tired, hard-working Mums out there. Enjoy your day in whatever form it takes.
And for those out there that find this day hard, I’m thinking of you.
I spent years convincing myself that I was simply too busy to write when the truth was that I just didn’t know how to make it work.
NaNoWriMo taught me a lot of things. It didn’t just prove to me that I could write 50 000 words in a month, it also showed me that I can fit a daily writing practice into my already busy life. Who knew?
Here’s here I did it (and am continuing to do it now that Nano is over):
- Specify a goal and a deadline
- Nano made this easy because the goal and the deadline was already decided for me. Once Nano was finished though I found myself a little lost. So I created a new goal (1000 words a day, complete the first draft of my manuscript) and a deadline (Jan 31st). It’s realistic and it keeps me focused.
- Be flexible (and sometimes creative)
- While I would love to spend my day writing in a quiet room, it’s just not possible with small children around. I write when Mr 2 sleeps, when they watch tv in the afternoons, when they are colouring in or drawing at my feet. Some days I don’t write at all, and that’s okay too because sometimes other things are just more important.
- Have the right tools
- Scrivener has been a blessing for me because I can sync my computer and ipad and write on the go. I had a few weekend trips during November so it was essential that I could write on the plane or in the car at a moment’s notice and it’s handy to have the option to write while out and about, just for something different. Carrying a notebook around is also a good idea for catching any ideas or quiet moments during the day.
- Find your people
- My local Nano group and Twitter have become a great source of knowledge and comfort. I discovered the #500in30 idea thanks to the talented and wonderful Alison Tait on Twitter and use it almost daily now. For those who don’t know about this it’s where you set yourself a timer and then write 500 words in 30 minutes. It stops me from overthinking things and allows me to just get words on paper. I usually always get more than 500 words whenever I do it and by the time 30 minutes is up I’m usually so involved in the writing that I keep going. The #amwriting hashtag on Twitter will also deliver some like-minded people. I’ve certainly found it helpful to know that I’m not alone!
- Have fun!
- I don’t take writing or myself too seriously. It sucks the fun out of it and I need writing to be about passion and not become a chore. So sometimes I don’t write, or I write a lot. Sometimes I’ve just gotta jump on the trampoline with the kids and forget about it all for a while.
I’m sure I’ll learn many more things along the way but for now I hope those tips might help out someone else struggling to fit writing into their day. It’s possible with a little determination and organisation (just like everything I guess), even with a couple of energetic young boys in the house.
I did it. I wrote 50 000 words in 30 words. I am a NaNoWriMo winner!
Even more important than the winning though is the fact that I now have 50 000 words of my story complete. It’s only 45 000 words more than I have ever written on one thing before and actual proof my ability to squeeze some serious writing time into my days. Granted, I did have to get creative at times, I still managed to get some words on paper every day except 1 (I’ll blog about my tips for fitting writing into your day when you also have small children soon!)
My story is not finished but I feel like it is going somewhere. I feel like it is going to work. I have confidence now in my ability to get it done instead of just thinking about it, and dreaming about it.
December is a bit of an insane month with Christmas celebrations and the end of the school year but I’m still hoping to get some words done. Definitely not 50 000 but I’m okay with that, so long as I can keep the ball slowly rolling.
I know I can do it now and that’s the main thing.
I can hardly believe that November is already half-way over.
The great news is that I have been successfully writing each day over the past fifteen days. I’ve also been reaching the target word count almost each day (which is 1667 for those that don’t know). I’ve now made it over halfway in terms of my overall word goal too, with over 25 000 words written in total.
I’m still amazed at how much I have written. This is absolutely the most words I have ever written on one thing and I’m feeling a great sense of accomplishment each day as I chip away at my goal and at this story. It’s also making me realise that it is possible to fit a daily writing practice into my day without too much effort or stress.
I have indeed needed to write in the gaps on many days so far but I am doing it. I am writing in cafes, libraries, on the back deck, in the playroom, on holidays and in bed. I am writing while the kids run around me. I am writing quietly by myself too whenever I can and I am getting it done.
So while I may not be writing here, know that I am writing. I am using up every precious minute of my day.