So, there’s a great deal written by writer-mothers that tells you not to have a baby. Your time is no longer your own. Your attention is split. You’re exhausted from interrupted nights, from the physical drain of managing the needs of a little one twenty four seven. The mental and material clutter of your life clogs up your creativity. All this is true. A female writer shouldn’t undertake having a baby lightly. But there’s another side to the story too.
Most obviously, nothing teaches you quite so much about the raw stuff of life as a newly coined creature. Just when you reach a jaded stage of your life, when Christmas feels like some of a sisiphyian cycle, when you’ve forget the magic of taste and sight and smell and touch, the joy of simple stories and songs, of discovery, of experiencing the world for the first time, this little bundle shakes you awake and says: Look! Look! Isn’t the world awesome?
Writers need to keep looking at the world anew. My little girl teaches me to do that every day.
But there’s another reason why having a baby helps writing mothers. You can’t waste time. You can’t take a second for granted. The moment you have a window of time to write, you grasp it and you strive to make use of it properly. No more procrastination. No more chewing on the end of your pencil and looking out of the window. No more distractions.
If I’m going to spend time away from my extraordinary little being at this, the most exciting developmental phase of her life, if I’m going to justify depriving her of time with me, the person who, in the end, she would most like to be with (I must remember this gorgeous, clingy stage when Tennessee is a teenager who doesn’t notice when I come into a room), then it has to count. Otherwise it’s a betrayal, isn’t it? When I see Tennessee again I must be able to look her in the eye and say: It was worth it my darling, you’d be proud to know what I’ve written while we were apart – one day I’ll let you read it.
And so my little girl steals my time, but she also inspires me and holds me accountable – she makes the minutes and the words written in those minutes, count.