Mothers compartmentalize. It’s what we do. It’s how we waggle a warning finger at a misbehaving child, talk on the phone and unload the dishwasher at the same time. It can be hard to think straight when you’re doing so much at once, and I swear, I was smarter before childbirth.
I was! I had deep thoughts. I thought about women’s rights, morality, culture, the ways novel-writing styles have changed over the last hundred years… Thoughts. I swear. I had them. And they weren’t interrupted by, “Young man, get off of that!”
Now, as a wife, mother and novelist, I do have deep thoughts, but they take me by surprise. I don’t see them coming when I’m in the mom-box. There I can be in mid-lecture about manners at the breakfast table, and I’ll shove back whatever brain wave was coming at me, because lectures must not be interrupted. As a mother, what else do I have in my arsenal, if not a lengthy lecture?
Then, when the lecture is complete, feet have been removed from the table top and order once more reigns, I realize that there had been a thought in there–an idea, a realization about something, and I’ll know exactly what I need.
Just a little bit of quiet, all to myself, to hear myself think again. Because beyond the mom-box, there is still a woman with thoughts and ideas, and while my life experience might have changed, molded and developed some of those ideas into much different shapes than they ever were when I was 22 or 25, those thoughts are still there.
That’s when I say, “Tell you what, kiddo. Mommy needs some quiet time to herself, and you watch a little TV, okay?”
TV–his sorta-rare luxury, and my guilty short cut.
And I pull out my computer and open up my manuscript to that beautiful blank page.
Time to write.