Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: The Journey

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire

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Changing  Time

 

This is not a post about diapers. Not exactly.

You see, it’s been six years since Literary Mama published my story Your Mama’s a Llama. What a thrill! An acknowledgment that I was truly a writer, even when a cursory examination of my life would have indicated otherwise.

I was in the thick of things then — those sweet, gelatinous days of motherhood when the clock read 9:15 a.m. and I had already lived a lifetime, with an early-rising toddler and a regimen that would have read something like “Feed. Change. Play. Placate. Repeat.” Days full of precious snuggle time, but also a fair amount of weeping (usually the toddler’s, although I had my moments) — and that did not always include a shower for me or a real meal for my family. Certainly my days did not include a regular writing schedule.

Times have changed. Time has changed. With diapers, potty training and preschool in my rearview mirror — and my three children in elementary, middle and (*gasp*) high school — I’ve experienced an inversion. My children’s neediest times used to be from dawn to naptime, that island of afternoon stillness that enabled me to survive until my husband arrived after work to offer relief. But now the most demanding part of my day begins when the final school bells ring.

Then it’s off to the races — piano/ violin/percussion lessons, soccer/tennis/wrestling practice, scholar bowl/debate/orchestra. Not to mention the requisite recitals/games/competitions that accompany those activities.

But here’s the thing: those morning and early afternoon hours? Before all hell breaks loose? I am actually writing.

In fact, I just graduated with an MFA in creative writing in January, the single most difficult thing I have ever done outside of motherhood. Yet if you had told me six years ago that I’d have a diploma in hand and an established writing schedule to boot, I would have scoffed. No freaking way.

Because back then, I was like Kara in my LiteraryMama short story: adoring (almost) every crazy-hard, whacked-out moment of motherhood, yet yearning for her submerged self that used to do something else. She feels guilty and “other” for wanting that external validation, that life that seems perpetually out of reach. And it’s hard to see clearly when chronically sleep deprived and up to one’s eyeballs in bodily fluids.

But we have glimmers. After a crisis near the end of the story, Kara muses: “Mother, mother, mother. . . Mama. That was who she was, and it was good and fine, and thank you God. It was not The End.”

No, motherhood is not “the end.” It never ends. And wherever you may be on the continuum — from endless diapering and nursing to non-stop schlepping and chauffeuring — know this: while motherhood may take us on a meandering hike or at a breathtaking gallop from our previous selves and lives, it doesn’t mean we can’t end up where we want eventually — and so much richer for the journey.

Transformed by time and our experience.

Changed.

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Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.


Michelle Collins Anderson lives, writes and mothers in Liberty, Missouri. She and her husband Clay have three children: Benjamin, 16; Levi, 12; and Vivian, 9. She recently graduated with an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, and her essays and fiction have been published in The Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Sulphur River Literary Review, Dan River Anthology and Plum Magazine. One of her stories was recently named a finalist for the 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. Michelle serves on the board of The Missouri Review and teaches creative writing to a bunch of awesome third-graders at Franklin Elementary School. She is currently working on a short story collection and her first novel.

 


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