Before I had kids, it seemed there was always time to write. Even when I was working full time and going to school at night, when weekends were eaten up by family obligations and term papers. There was always time. Usually at 2 in the morning, Friday into Saturday. And then again, Saturday into Sunday. Days off and vacation were huge blocks of time that I often took for granted because I knew there would always be time.
That all changed when I had kids and I learned that my days need to be at least 30 hours long. There are still chunks of time when the kids go to bed, and holidays, and all, but I find that my precious writing time is the first thing to get whittled back when "real life" intrudes.
A few months ago, both of my kids came down with a weird virus that caused them to run high fevers. First my daughter got sick, then she passed it to my son. Who is the first person anyone wants when they get sick? Yep - Mommy aka CanCureAnything.
I sat up with each one of them, all night once or twice. Didn't think anything of it other than, boy was I tired. I spent hours rocking my son, just holding him to make him more comfortable. I spent hours reading to my daughter, just to make her more comfortable. When my husband had shoulder surgery, I was taking care of him as well.
It was weeks before I sat down to write new words. I edited various WIPs, squeezed in rewrites on those WIPs. But as for new material? Nope. Nada. Zilch. There wasn't time.
It's funny - as much I love to write, it is still a job. People who are non-writers seem to forget that quite easily. Sure, I'm at home, sometimes in my pjs, sometimes fooling around on the internet, but it is still work.
Generally speaking, my husband is terrific about my writing time. When I am in the middle of a project, or on deadline, he tends to spend a lot of time by himself. I know he feels a little neglected from time to time, but he understands. Just as he has to go to work, so do I. Sometimes the little boy inside gets whiny and needy, but the rational adult man (if there truly is such a thing) does understand and respects that when I disappear into my office, I am working.
How does one strike that balance? For me, I give up sleep. I'm a regular sack artist whenever possible, but when I'm working, I tend to lose track of time and when I emerge from my world, it's to see (sometimes with utter horror) that it's quarter to four in the morning and my daughter has to get up for school in three hours. It doesn't happen often, especially since me -- the original night owl -- has trouble making it to midnight these days.
Nap times are times I treasure. Two hours uninterrupted. A gift, really, and I try to do as much as I can in that time. I try to squeeze in what I can at other times - a paragraph here, a page there.
I miss that time I'd taken such advantage of back in the pre-kids days. I didn't accomplish as much as I should have, wasted more than I should have. Sometimes I think I have it worked out and the balance is jsut that - balanced. Then someone pipes up to complain because they feel they are being shortchanged.
Then again, my kids are growing up ridiculously fast and it won't be long before I'll be in my office, staring at the clock and wishing someone would yell, "Mommy!"