As someone who is a wife, mom of four, and who also writes books for children, I get asked a lot how I “do it all.”
And on the surface, I do a lot of different things, wear a lot of different hats. However, I don’t do it all, and I don’t do everything all the time. There are ebbs and flows to this season of life. Times where I must lean into one thing and lean away from the other. As I’m writing this, my kids are running around the house with a frantic energy that will likely lead to tears from someone any moment. But I do think that it’s important for us to talk about how much is possible as a mother, especially if you love being a mom and also have big dreams of some kind—whether they be creative, or business related, or both.
There’s this idea in our culture that babies and dreams are two separate entities entirely. You can be a mom, or you can pursue your passions. There’s the notion that we must set our dreams aside during the years that we are raising little people. While there is a need to be flexible, and to make space for flexibility that raising kids requires, I’ve found it more than possible to have a family and pursue my dreams.
And I think you can too.
My experience has also been one of exuberant support. My husband helps me troubleshoot and make space for the more intense periods of work that come with deadlines and revisions. We’ve adjusted work schedules, negotiating babysitting and help cleaning the house. There were times, before I ever knew I’d make any money selling my books, where we just found ways to fit writing time in, even if it meant a quick trip to a coffee shop in the evening. I’ve written from the driver’s seat of my minivan, and I’ve written while pizza cooked in the oven. My work right now is not often luxurious, and my time is not plentiful. But it is life-giving for my soul to be able to lean into this passion at this stage of life.
I’ve learned that when I’m not able to pursue writing in any way, when weeks go by without any filled pages, that my cup is empty, and I’m not as good for my family as I am when my creative well is full. When I write, I lose track of time, lost in magical worlds and the journeys my characters undertake. When I write, I feel like I’m doing one of the things I was made to do. Kind of like how I feel when reading my kids a bedtime story, or watching them learn about and lean into the things they love. They are both a part of who I was made to be, and I feel closer to God in both my roles as a mother and an author.
If anything, pursuing my dream while I have kids at home has pushed me to do my absolute best. I know my children are watching, and I want to make them proud.
Over the past few years, I’ve often drawn inspiration from St. Zélie, mother to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She and her husband Louis were canonized together, and in that they represent for me an example of a strong, supportive marriage. Zélie raised holy children, and in that is an example to me of motherhood. She also owned her own lace business, and in that she is an example to me of a woman contributing to her family and doing the thing that she loved.
For anyone who has big dreams but has been too nervous to pursue them, or for anyone who is going after their dream with kids at home, please know you are not alone. It took me ten years before I got brave enough to even try, to even acknowledge that this is part of what I was created to contribute to this world. Your work has value, just as your motherhood has value. The messages about some sort of inherent contradiction between babies and dreams are a lie.
And while it isn’t always easy, at least for me, it’s certainly been worth it.