I don't like writing at night any more. It used to be my favorite time of day to work. When the world was quiet, when thoughts were still, the words would flow and occasionally they'd make sense. In the morning, I could edit and then pass off the results as an article. That was B.C.: Before Children.
Now I'm good if I'm able to stay up past 10, and then it's only because I'm waiting for my husband. (His hours are even worse than mine.)
But in the summertime, when the sun stays in the sky a few hours longer and the kids have nothing pressing to be up for in the morning, I can relax a little. I can stay up past my bedtime.
And when the kids are finally asleep, sometimes I can focus my bleary eyes on the blue screen of my word processor and my tired little fingers can actually type a few words. What these moments lack in clarity, they more than make up for in quietness.
Working at night somehow implies a deadline. I no longer have one. I write when I can. A woman can write whenever she wants to, but a mother had better wedge her bursts of creativity into the hours when her children are either at school or asleep.
But of all the dual careers, writer/mom is probably the best. It certainly makes the Top 5 list, along with, say, painter/mom (although the kids would always want to help out). And how about pet-store-owner/mom? Of course the kids would always want you to bring your work home.
The drawback of being a writer/mom: Writing takes a long time. So does raising children. The advantage: Writing takes a long time. So does raising children. As long as you're not in a hurry to finish either job, you'll do just fine.
Writing does not require an extensive wardrobe; neither does child-rearing. The money you save on clothes can be plowed into other priority items: paper, pens, ice cream.
Writing requires a flexible schedule - ditto the mom thing. Your kids will have the most inflexible schedule this side of the diplomatic corps. There will be school, after-school activities, play dates, birthday parties. You will have to work around them. You will not be allowed to whine about this. It's part of the job. You knew that when you took it.
Well, you sort of knew - your mother tried to warn you. You didn't listen. You were so sure you'd be different.
Now you're not only starting to sound like your mom, you're beginning to dress like her, too. Hey, sweater sets can be cool. I think.
Your mom even suggested you try writing at night when the kids are asleep. You were only half-listening because the kids were making so much noise, so you thought she told you to buy a night light.
You couldn't figure out why - you can't really write by it. But at least the light isn't so bright it wakes up the kids.
Then it hits you like a duh-o-gram: The computer screen is the night light for the night write. And suddenly you feel very, very cozy. And as you doze off face first on your keyboard, you try very hard to have your nose hit the "save" key and not "delete."