I’m often asked, “How do you find time to do everything?” And I always respond, “I’m just like any other working mom out there.”
When I worked full-time in the capitol, no one asked how I juggled family and work, but it’s a common question now that I’m a full-time writer.
I also find it odd that male authors with families rarely get asked the same question, but that’s a whole other topic (and one that’s probably a bit controversial, so for now I’ll steer clear. Feed me a few drinks at a conference, and you’ll hear me wax poetic on the subject.)
In fact, I have it much easier in many ways than other working moms. I don’t commute. I rarely have meetings, don’t have to deal with co-workers, and can watch a movie in the middle of the day as research–like watching a great fight scene over and over to get the choreography down. I can take time off to drive on field trips. For example, today I was a driver for my daughter’s basketball team, and last Friday I was a driver on a field trip to a Bowling Alley — where they were studying physics and movement through bowling (kind of cool!)
I can stay in my pajamas all day, most days. In fact, in the morning after the treadmill I often shower and put on clean pajamas! Or, sweat pants. But usually clean jammies if I don’t have to go out again. Sometimes, I get paid to go on trips and speak to other writers!
Basically, I have a LOT of flexibility in my work schedule.
Being a full-time writer and the major breadwinner of the family isn’t always easy, but neither is working full-time outside of the house.
I remember when I commuted to the capitol and one of the kid’s was sick, it could take me 30-45 minutes to reach them. As a mom, this just kills me — I know the school wouldn’t call if they weren’t really sick. There was little flexibility in my schedule — I worked 9-5, five days a week. But in reality? It was 7:45 when I left the house, took the kids to day care/school, commuted to work, worked until 5, then commuted home — picking the kids up usually just a few minutes before 6 in the evening.
But the weekends were mine, all mine. We could play, sleep, watch TV, go on a day trip, whatever.
Now? I write every day. Not just five days a week, but seven days a week. If I take the day off to go on a field trip, I put my time in at night. If I am on a roll–or on a deadline–I’ll stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning. Getting paid is erratic — sometimes there’s a nice large check, but I have to budget for several months, and suddenly, it doesn’t seem so big anymore. There’s so much in the publishing world that’s out of my control, but not the writing — I can write as much (or as little) as I please. There is a lot of stress in being self-employed — higher taxes, less stability, higher medical insurance (even higher now that the government cancelled my policy and forced me into a completely different plan), no built-in retirement — but there’s also freedom because I am doing what I love to do.
I don’t know why it bothers me when I’m asked, “How do you do it all?” other than the fact that I was never asked that when I worked in the Legislature. But it does.
Whether we have kids or elderly parents, it’s not easy juggling family and work — whether you work from home or outside of the home. We do it any way we can.
Today, I wrote far less than I wanted to this morning before the basketball game, and then after the game I had middle school open house with my son. Now, tonight, I’m writing.
And then, when it’s quiet and I’ve finished the chapter I started this morning, I’ll be watching JUSTIFIED.
What’s one question you hate being asked? Or never know how to answer?