As a mom of three teen sons--one a high school senior who's heading off to college this August *wipes tears*--I have a wistful perspective on family, writing, and publishing.
Invest in what really matters.
Yes, the written word matters. Yes, pursuing our publishing dream matters. But nothing, nothing, should take the place of time spent the people who matter most.
I used to pursue writing skills and the publishing path with a vigor and passion that sometimes bordered on unhealthy. I soon realized that writing, or publishing, or sales numbers don't matter much if my family isn't at the top of my priority list. I vowed to write and work on the business side of publishing only while my kids are at school or otherwise occupied. Manuscripts can wait...family shouldn't have to.
As my son prepares to graduate from high school, I'm especially nostalgic. One thing I know for sure: I won't have regrets about the amount of time I've spent with him.
Let's write, let's publish, and let's invest in what really matters: the people we love.
Have your priorities ever gone off kilter? If you have kids, how do you prioritize them while also scheduling writing time? If you've had teens leave for college, any advice you can offer this soon-to-be-crazy-sad mom?
I agree! My kids are all grown-up - two sets of them - my own two boys (men) have been on their own for over 25 years - ha! The other two - my step-daughter and step-son have been out of the nest for two years. My advice to you soon to be crazy sad mum is to pat yourself on the back! Remember what you parented for - not to have pets but to have fully autonomous children that you've raised. Don't worry - they'll always need you - believe me when I say my 45 year old son still needs me - but they need you in different and somewhat cool ways. And you can best serve them at this point by getting on with your other passions like writing. Yay!ReplyDelete
Jan, that is such great advice. I would definitely NOT want to hang on too tight to the kids. I want them to fly and find their own way. But boy, am I going to miss them when they're gone. Thank you for your words of wisdom!Delete
My daughter is going away to college this September too. I couldn't agree with you more. My writing has had to go in the trunk while I did what I needed to be a good mom to her, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. And now, I'm re-prioritizing how much time I want to write, because I want a better balance of work and relaxing. We all have to follow our own paths and do what we feel is right.ReplyDelete
Oh, Natalie, you and I can weep together this summer! But you know what? We can be proud of what we've taught them, and the time we've spent with them. And like Jan said, our kids will always need us.Delete
It's all about balance. And yes, family and friends come first. Relationships trump all else.ReplyDelete
Alex, you're so right. When I close the laptop when my kids come home, that sends a loud message: you matter more to me.Delete
I agree. Very good reminder for all of us as we work on reaching our writing goals!ReplyDelete
Catherine, I have to knock myself in the head sometimes to remember what's most important!Delete
This is a wise reminder of keeping our priorities straight, Julie. Thanks.ReplyDelete
Karen, so true! Tough to do sometimes :)Delete
I recently guest blogged about this on Unicorn Bell. :D I have the problem of letting my writing and marketing take up my day and all of my attention to the point where I don't call any of my loved ones. I'm working on getting better at that.ReplyDelete
Chrys, it's so tough sometimes, right? It's definitely a huge juggling act.Delete
My daughter is finishing up her first year of high school and I'm already dreading the time when she leaves for college. I always try to make room for her during the day.ReplyDelete
Oh, Ken, I have twin sons who are freshmen! Can you believe how fast this year has flown by? Doesn't it seem as if they just started high school? This four years for my older son has flown by. Yes, we must take the time to enjoy this season. It goes by way too fast.Delete
My kids are all grown, the youngest finishing her junior year at college. During the short time she's home this summer, I'll be spending many hours with her. Writing can wait.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, Susan, I can only imagine how it's been for you! At least she's coming home for the summer :)Delete
Man, I hear you. My frustration is the commitments I HAVE to do--work. If I didn't have to have a day job, I could both write more AND spend better family time--not that my 20 and 16 year old are clamoring for mom time...ReplyDelete
I can totally sympathize with that. I don't know how you do it all and remain sane!Delete
I overindulge too many things, and then yes, out of balance is usually the result. There's time and place for everything. Picking the right in both of those is everything.ReplyDelete
Dean, finding that balance is tough sometimes, yes? But hey, at least we're aware of it and strive to do better!Delete
Man, this is so true! This is when managing time really matters and makes a difference.ReplyDelete
Karla, so true! Time management skills should be bottled and sold.Delete
My novel House of Diamonds reflects my personal struggle through the years with my own desire to spend more time writing vs. the needs of my children. Just as I did, my MC Marcy chooses her family over her writing in this phase of her life. Although in the novel it was presented as a noble sacrifice, one review criticized this as the mother having to give up her own dreams due to lack of support from her husband and family. I thought when I read that review, "Wow, this person really doesn't get it." Because for a mother to sacrifice her own interests, dreams and even talents for the sake of her children is to me, a sign of strength not weakness. The children grow up and leave home, and it happens so quickly. The real tragedy is when parents put themselves first at all costs, and then everyone loses, especially the children.ReplyDelete
A wonderful post, Julie. Sorry my comment is so long but your post touches on an issue I feel very strongly about.
Karen, I agree with you 100%. When mothers sacrifice or set their interests aside for their kids, it's an act of love. Love means putting others first, right? When my kids were born, we heard over and over again, "The time will fly by." Boy, truer words were never spoken. I can't even believe how fast this time has gone. I absolutely treasure each moment I spend with my sons. My own publishing endeavors can gladly take a back seat when needed. The boys know I love to write, and they absolutely support my writing and publishing. They also know that they rank much higher on the priority ladder. We can't just say the words...we have to show them! I treasure your perspective on this, Karen. Thanks!Delete
My kids and husband come first. So most of my fiction writing is done at night after my children are in bed.ReplyDelete
Cynthia, that's such a great plan! You'll definitely have no regrets :)Delete
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I still have a little time, emphasis on the "little." They're growing SO fast!! Yes, they, my family, and friends come first.ReplyDelete
Oh, Traci, I hear ya! My goodness, I sometimes feel like a high schooler myself, and I honestly can't believe my son is about to graduate. *sigh*Delete
Congrats on the graduation and good luck! I'm a long way from that stage and refuse to think about it yet. It's great and sad to see them grow up and become more self-sufficient. And no one will ever be a bigger cheerleader for me (as a writer or a mom) than my kids. Again, congrats!ReplyDelete
It can be seriously difficult to juggle our family priorities with writing. Sounds like you've done it:)ReplyDelete
Yay for the grad! I think I'll always be a plate spinner, but I've learned to revel more in the joy of writing and whatever comes of it is gravy.ReplyDelete