Writing, parenting and reasons to be grateful

So it’s got to 9.20pm and I realise I haven’t fulfilled commitment to write something everyday on just the second day. Nearly fell at first hurdle but no, here we are. Writing.

And the reason I haven’t written anything all day, at all, is because Tuesdays is the day I have ‘off’ with my twin four year old boys.

Update: have just had a long, good and necessary phone conversation but it is now 10.45pm and I’m knackered. Plus I know I’ll be up at around 5.30am with the four year olds.

This is for artists with children – anyone who doesn’t like these kinds of blogs do feel free to stop reading now. Many years ago before I had mine, when I was still trying to get pregnant (TTC in online shorthand) I was addicted in horrible, compulsive way to parenting articles. Then I had three miscarriages and the fascination and compulsion grew. I wanted to shout at all the women (and they were mostly women – now there’s a lot more men) writing funny, lighthearted pieces about sleepless nights and teenage tantrums. I wanted them to know how lucky they were.

Then, just when I’d sort of reconciled myself to the fact that it might not happen for me, it did. I had my daughter, then not even 16 months later, twin boys. Three children in 18 months. Certainly wish fulfillment.

And given my history, it felt, feels, impossible to complain (publicly at least) about any of it. Especially knowing that many, many people were, are, will always be in the place I was meant I was very conscious of always being very grateful for the joy and privilege of being a parent and (trying to be) an artist.

So I am grateful. Truly, really grateful.

Grateful and exhausted by every 4am, 5am, 6am alarm call.

Grateful and hot-flushed cheeked ashamed of dragging two wailing screaming flailing 4 year olds out of the shops (again).

Grateful and heart hurting guilty as I peel small bodies off my legs as I go to work, sounds of ‘don’t leave me here, Mummy’ ringing in my ears.

Grateful and mind numbingly bored by the endless toilet training.

Grateful and wondering how you find anytime to do anything that isn’t ‘work’ or ‘childcare’.

And of course grateful for all the cuddles, kisses, jokes, stories, games, joys of loving, caring for, getting to know three brilliant, emerging characters who are my children.

So to other fellow artists with small children, yes this is hard. Sometimes it is ok to say it is hard. Hard to be an artist, hard to be a parent, hard to juggle both. To say you do BOTH things for love and one love does not exclude the other, it adds to it.

Right that’s all I’ve got for today. Hope it makes sense. Back again tomorrow…

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3 thoughts on “Writing, parenting and reasons to be grateful

  1. Alex,

    Thanks for the stop and think moment. I do love them, I do love them. It’s just that teenagers have few redeeming features. They don’t tell jokes, well, not to me. The smiles are more grimaces at what I’ve cooked for tea. Communication is a problem unless they want something. The other day my 14 year old came in and gave me a lovely hug and kiss. It took me by surprise until he asked if I’d renewed his mobile ‘phone contract. When I told him I hadn’t because what he wanted was too expensive, he stormed out and didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. My 17 year old barely speaks to me at all.

    On the other hand, I was in the bath with my 8 year old the other day and he was telling me about a boy at school whose surname is Bennett. He said, “He’s got the same name as your hero, Alan, mummy, hasn’t he?” I said, “He most certainly has my darling. Alan is a leg-end”. He just smiled at me.

    They are also a rich mine of material.

    In the words of Dorothy, “There’s no place like home”, but both in a positive and not so positive way. Sometimes.

    Much love,

    Jo West

  2. Hi Alex,
    yes, I can relate to a lot of the above; but for me, between a full-time job (which had no connection to the arts or creativity), helping in a house with 4 children and doing the dull stuff like decorating and putting up shelves, something had to give and it was my, admittedly, simplistic and naive attempts at writing. Effectively, the dreams and aspirations of my 20 something self were put on hold for 20+ years, to the profound regret of my older self. So, my advice to anyone who is juggling families, job and writing … yes, it’s bloody difficult, but be single minded and determined and don’t choose the ‘easy’ way of putting off your writing off until you have more time/energy/ideas, because that time never really arrives!

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