Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Writer Duck

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In this month's essay, Writer Duck, Victoria Patterson remembers her childrens' formative days, when church became a haven. But unlike those who came to church for a spiritual connection, Patterson used the break provided by the church daycare for a different kind of spiritual practice: writing.

She writes, "Writing, for me, is akin to prayer and meditation -- necessary for a spiritual life, a means not only by which I find my way, but also decipher which direction to take."

How do you carve out much-needed personal time, away from daily responsibilities? What activities do you turn to during those private moments?

Merle Huerta, an army chaplain’s wife, is the mother of a blended family of thirteen children. During her husband’s combat deployments, she co-authored articles appearing in the Jerusalem Post and National Review. She has a Master�s from Columbia University in Instructional Media and Technology and a Certificate in Nonfiction from The Writers Institute at CUNY. She lives at the U.S. Military Academy in New York. “Tuesday Mornings” is her first solo publication.

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I go to sleep when my kid does, around 8:00pm. I am the only parent in a hundred mile radius that goes to sleep before 11:00 or so. At least that's how it feels. Other parents talk about T.V. shows, private time with their partners, going to the movies. I am sleeping: deeply, warmly, satisfyingly asleep by 8:00pm, having read to my 5-year-old son three or four books, turned out his nightstand light, told him a rambling story made up on the spot (our ritual), stayed "one more minute," given the last kiss, noserub and ribcracking hug, then left him to his warm and lovely blankets and pillows while I seek my own. I sink into a deep sleep almost instantly, though sometimes there is a pretense of reading half a paragraph before my eyes are closing, my breath slowing, my consciousness slipping away into another place. Then, and this is the beauty part, I wake up, alert and alive, around 4:00 a.m. In the winter it looks and feels like the middle of the night, which adds to its magic: I feel, often, like a little kid, staying up to watch for reindeer on the roof. I make coffee, I eat something -- granola and yogurt, fruit, something fast. Already the minutes are ticking away. I snuggle down on the couch with coffee and book, or notebook and pen, and my psyche -- which really means soul -- sighs with tranquility: here I am, it says, acknowledging my external self with all its responsibilities, grateful for having been acknowledged in its turn. Sometimes I am reading; other times I am writing. In either case, being my fullest, truest self, skating on words, flying on phrases, language keeping me aloft like a wind current. On a good day I have two hours of flight before a little voice calls from the hall outside his bedroom, "Mommy? morningtime cuddle?" And when it does, I am ready to welcome him back, along with my external self and all of her responsibilities.
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