When I was in high school, I remember feeling sad that I wasn’t elected to the homecoming court. As if the disappointment wasn’t bad enough, what followed was a swift personal berating that I had even let myself care about something as frivolous as the homecoming court in the first place. It happened over and over again. A boy wouldn’t like me and I would feel sad. And then, I would feel angry that I felt sad, angry that I even wasted a moment’s emotion on something that in the eternal scope of things, I knew didn’t matter. I guess, in many ways, it was a good way to grow up. I probably saved my parents many a lecture. I was much too busy lecturing myself.

I’m there again. Feeling distraught and a little grumpy and knowing I need to give myself a lecture. And so I shall. Care to join me?

I don’t doubt my priorities are where they ought to be. Playing games on Saturday afternoon is important. Assisting in wooden battleship assembly, listening to Henry read Hop on Pop for the fifty seventh time, teaching Lucy how to braid, then letting her practice on my hair over and over again; these moments are real and good and necessary. I know this. I know this in the very deepest part of my mothering heart.

And yet, as I lay in my darkened bedroom tonight, at an hour far earlier than normal so my body could work a little on building a person, I longed for a little more time to write. There are so many things that I want to say – so many stories I want to tell.

I learned a few weeks ago that a handful of my essays were accepted for publication in a forthcoming book discussing the power of motherhood. The book is a project of the website, Power of Moms, a fantastic place full of uplifting and inspiring material. I am honored to be included among their book’s contributing authors.

After recently completing a class on writing Creative Nonfiction, my professor provided some encouraging and positive feedback on my final portfolio, that, when combined with my Power of Moms acceptance, had me seriously considering a book project of the nonfiction variety. So I pitched an idea to my editor. Know what she said? (In a friendly, supportive, I’m not making any promises but I think it might could work sort of way?) She said, “Write it.”

I’ve just signed and returned my contract for my first novel, and I’m working on the writing of novel #2. My brain is full of ideas for a third, fourth, even fifth novel that come to me at random times throughout the day – in the car, in the shower, in the middle of Lucy’s basketball practice. I feel as if I am on the brink – poised and ready to make a career of all these words…

And yet…

And yet.

Often, days, even weeks go buy without a single word written. Days that are full of not just the routine maintenance and care of a home and family, but with homework helping and piano teaching and baby building and book reading and game playing and story listening and many other rich and rewarding things that I’m simply not willing to give up. I won’t give them up because I want to be present in my children’s lives, because I know that in the eternal scope of things, my children, not the number of books I’ve published, will be my greatest prize.

This raising of a family is God’s work. I know this. I feel it in my heart, in my bones, even in the very words that I write. I do not think it coincidental that those moments that have brought me closest to God are moments I’ve experienced as a mother. Writing is rewarding in it’s own right, but mothering? Mothering is sanctifying.

And so I mother first. I mother first and write when I can and know that eventually a season will come when there will be more time – a season when the morning sickness and the diapers and the shepherding of toddlers are in the past. While I fully expect to enjoy those future days, I will not wish away today. Because here and now is where my children need me.

Present. Aware. Battleships built and hair braided.

17 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. Andrea says:

    Sounds to me like you are well on your way to doing both. With a book on the way and writing for another. You are doing it! Congrats. You are a wonderful writer AND mother. I look forward to reading any of your writing… anytime. (be it soon or in 30+ years).

  2. abstowe says:

    From one who has stood in the trenches filled with sleepless nights and dirty diapers to one who is still standing there, From one who has heard again and again from those who were before me, in the season called motherhood…."enjoy them, it will pass so quickly"From one who has stood on one end of eight children, ranging in age from 14, down to newborn….. wondering how it would ever ALL get done, and by whom.Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the building and the reading. Cherish those moments. This, coming from one who has just sent one off on his own. Still 7 left and yet my heart longs for the one – because he was just there, just building with me, just a baby. From one who can now see both ends of the spectrum :It comes so quickly. You are absolutely right to keep those priorities in line.

  3. Stacy says:

    I needed this today, thank you.I stumbled on a job posting the other day. A job that I was uniquely qualified for, a position that truly serves women and makes me feel whole and complete at the same time. I was one click away from applying. But my situation is much like yours, minus the morning sickness. (Thank goodness!) Now is not the time. I just continue to pray that I am using hte time I have now in the best way possible.

  4. Granola Girl says:

    I learned the hard way after opening my boutique and then closing it–but you already know that! You are right. I feel the pull the pull to do those things that I love–for me it's fitness and working with people that way. But I can't–not right now. There will be a day but right now my children need me. Thank you for this post. It's nice to know other moms feel that tug and pull. We have other gifts and talents too just when our children our young we sometimes have to put them aside to do our most important work. The time is really going by so quickly. I'm sure we will look back and be so greatful that we made them our top priority because soon they will be grown and we won't have them to take care of each and every day. I don't want to look back with any regrets. Love you! Thanks for this lovely post!!!

  5. Tobi says:

    Because my children are in school I feel like I get plenty of me time. I struggle more with being present when they are home and making sure they aren't' just sucked into the TV the whole time.

  6. Annie B Larson says:

    This is the reason I read your blog. You put into words what all of us other mothers are thinking. You seem to know just when I need a pep talk and it always seems to work. Thank you today and every other time you have inspired me.

  7. Lara says:

    And yet, this time will pass. Soon all your children will be in school! Yes, even the unborn baby. Six years or so is not so long. I don't have as many children, but I am there. And I am finding the time to do things I haven't been able to do in years (or ever, as the case may be). And it is nice. But sometimes I really miss the littleness of the kids. Life is funny.And you are awesome. 🙂

  8. Annette Lyon says:

    What Lara said, and others. :)And in the meantime, you are writing when you can (which, as I've told you, will help balance you out a bit–even if it's just snippets here and there), and that will help you, I think, be a better mother. All my kids are in school now, but mothering is still demanding. Here's an image for you that this conjured up: My youngest often sits behind me *as* I write, braiding my hair.I should do a post on how I managed to get bits of writing in when the kids were small–and how it IS what kept me going, through the tough mommy moments and all.

  9. Jordan McCollum says:

    I love this post. Like you, my first book is coming out in 2013 (same publisher, even!)—and like you, I'm almost plagued by thinking about my writing. I want to write, I want to spend more time in these imaginary worlds, but I have three little ones who need me even more.I actually read this on The Power of Moms' feed earlier today, but I couldn't find it on their site, which lead me on a hunt to find your blog. I'm so glad I did. Thank you!!

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