People ask me how I do it. How do I raise a 16-month-old, write novels, and go for a Bachelor’s degree all at once? Let me just say this: If you’re prepared to hear the truth, read on. If you’re reading this to hear some kind of “Wonder Woman” story about a person who has it all together, move along. People who know me and my writing know that I keep it real. I do not claim to be a superhero or supernatural. Believe me, there are days when I fall apart and ask the universe why it trusted me with so much. However, I am thankful every day for the great opportunities I have, and I wouldn’t change a thing. So, for those who are curious, here’s what it’s really like trying to have it all.
17-hour Work Days.
Yes. 17. And that’s on a good day. From the moment my sweet toddler wakes me up at 7 AM to the moment I crumple into bed at midnight (again, if I’m lucky), I am working. If I’m not taking care of baby, writing, editing, marketing my work, networking, or doing homework, I’m desperately trying to get some kind of household chore accomplished or working out a troublesome scene in my head. I even consider listening to music to be work now, because I’m studying it. Analyzing it. Figuring out how I can work its themes into my novel somehow. Yes, I really am that crazy and obsessed. Deal with it.
This shouldn’t be any surprise to any parent out there. Of course I don’t get weekends. I have a kid. I’m also a student, which means the weekend is the perfect time to hand off my kid to someone who’s kind enough to watch him (usually my husband) and get some homework done. Sometimes I’ll get a couple hours of free time (which only serves to make me want more) but rarely a whole day to myself. That’s laughable, actually.
Perpetual Dry Eyes.
I am constantly looking at some kind of screen. I’m an online student and I do all of my writing on Microsoft Word, plus my correspondence with my publisher and other authors is online, and I use Facebook and Twitter to connect with said authors and other students. What does all of that equal? A lot of time on the damn computer or iPhone. Going to bed with bloodshot eyes is now par for the course.
Truckloads of Mommy Guilt.
I wish I could explain to my son why Mommy is not the ever-present, bow-at-your-feet, wish-granting magical fairy princess that some SAHMs seem to be. I get distracted. I have deadlines. Sometimes I have to go away for a few hours while I work on a project. I wish I could split into three (at least) and give one copy of myself solely to him and meeting his seemingly constant need for Mommy’s attention, but regrettably I have to do the best I can with the version of me that currently exists. I shower my love on him when I’m taking care of him and when I take out time just to play with him and make him feel loved, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough, and that sucks for any parent.
Judge-y, Judge-y People and their Judge-y, Judge-y Comments.
“What do you do on that computer all day long?” (Answer? None’ya.)
“How can you say you have a job when you’re not making any money?” (…really? That one is seriously a low blow, y’all.)
“Why are you taking time away from your child to work and go to school?” (Answer? Another low blow. And also none’ya. And also, I mean, I’m like ten feet away from him right now.)
“Why does your mind keep wandering while I’m talking to you?”
“Why are your eyes glazed over… Haley? Haley?! Earth to Haley!!”
Okay, yeah, so the last two questions might be justified, but seriously, people? I’m exhausted. I’m fried. My head has been spinning like the spin cycle in your washing machine all day, so give me a break. As for the other digging questions and snide remarks, I could really do without them. Trust me, there’s no way I could ever explain my insatiable drive and passion to someone who doesn’t understand.
Forgetting to Eat.
This one happens a lot, especially in the morning. I always make sure my son is fed, but I somehow forget that I also need sustenance. I usually remember around noon when I start feeling like a zombie.
Looking for Any Excuse to Get Out of the House.
Seriously. Can I please see four walls that are not the interior of my own home for once? And I’m starting to actually enjoy talking to strangers, which could prove problematic if I’m not careful… (Jk, I have a little more common sense than that)
These are all I can think of at this late hour, but I’ll add more to this list if I think of them. Now it’s time for one of my favorite parts of the day: crumpling into an exhausted heap in my snuggly, warm, screen-free bed. Night night, all.