Sometimes it’s easy to get our focus stuck on the hardships of the writing life, the heart-wrenching rejections, the countless sacrifices, the hours and hours we expend for so little external reward.
The writing life is hard—not only on us, but also on those who are closest to us. If you’re like me, at times you may question whether the writing life is truly worth the pressure it exerts upon our families and loved ones.
Lately I’ve realized that even though misunderstandings and discouragement are part of the writing journey, there are aspects about it that can be a blessing to those around us—especially as we try to juggle parenting and writing.
*When we pursue our passions, we’re able to bring fresh energy to our parenting.
I spend the majority of my time with my children, overseeing their education and activities, training them, and loving them. When I write, I get a break from the routine of mothering. I have a chance to do something else that takes my attention off my children—even if only for a short time.
Writing rejuvenates me. Yes, it’s hard work and draining at times. But when I nurture my creativity, I refill a place inside me. Then as I return to mothering duties, I’m able to do so with a revitalized perspective that hopefully spills over into the lives of my children.
*When we approach our work time with diligence, we model what we expect from our children.
When my children complain about doing their work, I tell them, “I never expect more of you than I expect from myself.” In other words, I set the tone. When I use my time wisely, stay focused, and work diligently, then I can require the same of them in their work.
I remind my children that they are in training for adulthood. The habits, the learning, the character building—it’s all preparation for the rest of their lives. One of the ways I can prepare them is by my example. When I write even when I’m tired or distracted, I teach them to work when they don’t feel like it. When I finish a novel or two, I teach them the importance of seeing their work to completion.
*When we use our God-given talents with purpose, we teach our children to pursue their gifts too.
I love talking to my children about how each of us is different, how we’re made with special talents and abilities which I call “gifts.” They’ll say, “Mom, you’re gifted in writing. But what’s my gift?” I explain to them that they can usually find their gift by assessing what they’re naturally inclined to, good at, and love doing.
Of course my children are still exploring and discovering those talents. But when they see me using my writing, it challenges them to chase after their gifts and use them to the best of their ability. I make a concerted effort to point out the gifts of other moms and dads so that my children can see the variety of ways they can live purposefully.
*When we show determination in the face of odds, we give our children courage to do the same.
When we had the baby squirrels last week, I watched my one of my daughters do everything in her power to protect and save the babies. After it started to sprinkle, she held an umbrella over the first baby that had fallen from the tree. She sat for hours guarding it from a distance, chasing away blue jays, and waiting for the Mama to reappear.
She sacrificed hours of her time, lost sleep, and put every ounce of her love and energy into caring for them—even though we didn’t know if the babies would survive. I observed her with growing admiration, amazed at her determination and passion. And then it struck me—she’s following my lead. She’s witnessed me pushing forward in the face of rejection and hardship, determined to keep on writing even when it seemed hopeless. Now she's doing the same.
I’m far from the perfect mother. I continually struggle to balance mothering and writing, and sometimes I fail to keep the scale level. But I’m hopeful that as I use my gifts, and you use yours, whatever they may be, that through them we can enrich our families.
What are some ways you’ve seen your writing (or other passions) benefit your family? How does writing make you a better person?