Getting over the mental hurdle that motherhood means your writing dreams are delayed

AKA Someday syndrome.

I’ve known for my entire adult life and part of my teenage life that all I ever wanted to do was write books. I didn’t really care if I made money at it. Though that would be cool.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write, but I knew that I came alive when I did it.

Reading was something that not only connected me to who I was but was the tipping point that made me fall in love with my husband. (A man who reads is never not sexy fellas.)

At 20 years old I got an internship with a book publicity company. A job I worked for the better part of 10 years.

I knew my life would be about books. But I didn’t know how long it would take me to actually write one.

At 22 years old I fell in love with a man who had two kids. There was no doubt in my mind that he was the one for me but having kids to raise the same year I graduated college wasn’t exactly the plan I had. And nothing can prepare you for how drastically your life will change the moment children come into it.

The Times When There Is No Writing

One thing I know for sure is that when you have children there are times when absolutely no writing happens. That is just reality. For me, this time was when my husband and I were very young and just trying to keep a roof over our heads, praying that my busted Civic, our only car, wouldn’t break down on our hour-long commute.

There was no writing happening then.

And when I started having babies of my own, very little writing happened there either.

In order to get over the mental hurdle of “I can’t write and be a mom at the same time,” you have to first acknowledge that there will indeed just be times where you don’t write because being a parent comes first. Because your family is in a season of peak demand. Because you’re barely able to shower let alone be creative.

These phases of life just happen. Don’t beat yourself up like I did.

Enough’s Enough

At some point though you may get to a place where you can no longer stand shelving your story for a moment more.

After the birth of my first son when I was now a mother of three, I had had enough of putting myself second or fifth or further down the line. I had had enough of saying I wanted something but never making a move to get it. I had had enough of waiting for the time to arrive where I would be free and clear of the mental burden of motherhood. I wanted to hold my first book in my hand and I wasn’t willing to talk about it anymore.

If this is where you’ve landed, I know your heart. Full of joy and gratitude for your family, but aching to carve out a corner of your life that’s just for you. Worn out and exhausted but in need of something that gives you energy. Craving growth, but feeling stuck.

I have been there. And on the hardest of days I felt more foolish than alive for thinking it was something I could pull off. At some point though, you say enough’s enough and you start typing. Anything.

Getting Over The Mental Mountain

The only way that I could actually believe I was able to do it was to start. And starting is not a thing I am good at. What I do instead is:

  • Plan with agonizing detail to start. I’m talking scheduling alarms, doodling in planners, notebooks, highlighters, post-its
  • Over educate myself. I mean how am I supposed to start writing if I haven’t read every book on craft.
  • Make excuses. My husband was sick, I have three kids in three sports, it’s an election year.
  • Environmental preparation. Cute coffee mug, new desk, productivity playlist ✔️✔️✔️
  • Putting the cart miles ahead of the horse. I know I haven’t written a word yet, but I should probably pin some book cover inspiration for when I get my cover designed.

Don’t fall victim to the lie that you need the perfect scenario to get started. The best gift you can give yourself is to just dive into that blank page. For me, it took joining NaNoWriMo to give myself permission to dive in sloppy and scared.

Motherhood Isn’t the Problem

I have bad news for all of us holding onto the idea that a mom can’t find time to pursue her passion. There are thousands, nay millions, of moms out there already doing it.

I know. I hated them a little too.

And no, they don’t all have maids and nanny’s. No they don’t all have crazy rich spouses. No they don’t have flawless children.

They just accepted one simple but hard-to-realize fact: motherhood can be whatever you want it to be. It can be all-consuming or it can be just a piece of who you are. It will ebb and flow. There will be really hard times and there will be times where you look around and go, “everyone’s good.”

The point is if you want to write. Write. Or paint, or take up photography, or start a blog on finance or whatever your jam is.

Tell yourself you’re just going to give it five minutes a day to start.

Pull out your notes app during school pick up. Wake up a couple minutes early. Sneak a paragraph in when everyone is eating and quiet.

You may not have five hours (yet) or five full-time working days, but you have five minutes. And trust me, when you start you’ll find way more than five.