Last updated on September 2011
Having seven children, ages 0 to 21 years, isn't easy in any mother's book, and being a writer makes it
that much more difficult. But I am grateful to be at home with my children while they're
growing upeven though
that means taking five or six hours to write what would normally take me two or three.
Two of my children are actually out of the house
now, however temporarily, both attending BYU.
But with the recent birth of my daughter, things
have become immeasurably more complicated.
I fall out of bed
at 7:00 when my husband turns on the primary songs on the CD Player (thanks TJ!). I usually feel groggy because
I stayed up late the night before with last minute projects or winding down
after the children were finally in bed. Not to
mention waking up to nurse my baby who sleeps
well only when cuddled up to me (my fault, but
we love having her in with us where she'll be
until she's weaned).
After song, scripture study, and prayer, I help the two youngest with their
lunches and breakfast and any last-minute
homework they forgot. I might have to help my
tenth-grader with something as well before I zip
him over to the high school. When I return, I
need to help comb my eight-year-old's
long hair and keep reminding her to hurry (she
likes to dawdle). If I remember in time, I make
my youngest son plaster his unruly locks with water. Then my husband takes
them to school three times a weeks (a fifteen to twenty-minute drive
each way), or they are picked up by their
carpool. After they are all gone, I nurse the
baby, eat, and then head to the
First I answer important e-mails, do a little
publicity online, and then it's back to work
writing. And, of course, there are plenty of
breaks to feed Lisbon. As I mentioned, she sleep
best in my arms, and it's hard not to just sit
there are marvel at the miracle of her, but she
will tolerate the swing for brief periods of
time. So there we sit in my office until I reach
I'm really blessed this year not to have a kindergartner to pick up halfway through the day,
but I do have a baby in diapers and with a
nursing baby I sometimes desperately need a nap, so that kind of
makes up for it. Rarely do I answer the phone because then I'll never get anything done. (I have Caller ID
to make sure the call is not from one of my kids.) Sometimes people come to the door, and only then do I realize
that I haven't combed my hair or put on my makeup. Maybe I ought to post a sign:
WRITER AT WORK
KNOCK AT YOUR OWN RISK!
If I finish my daily writing goal early, and
it's not yet time to pick up my high schooler at
2:15, I'll go to my treadmill and
try to get rid of some of the baby fat that
somehow stuck to me after the birth instead of
the baby. If it's warm, I'll go for a swim
outside in my pool. But I have to
confess that lately that hasn't been happening
much. I'm under deadline and with the break I
took during the last months of my difficult
pregnancy, I am running behind again. Not sure
how I used to have babies and keep up so well! So I just keep on working all day until I have
to pry my hands from the computer to
fulfill some other duty. (Don't be too sorry for
me—I love it! And I do have my miracle
baby to keep me balanced and grounded.) I'm sure
I'll work in the exercise as soon as I buy some
more seasons of something sci-fi to watch. Those are my favorite!
After exercising, it's time for a quick bath
or shower—if there's time before getting my high schooler
at 2:15. Then I may work at bit more until I
have to pick up the others (two days a week) at
2:45 or until they arrive home with their
carpool at around 3:30. Except that far too
often, I also have to run errands. Anything from
a visit to the home improvement store to driving to
the post office to mail a package. The dentist office is a particularly
annoying repeated event for my son in
braces, and I know it's time-consuming, but
someone has to go grocery shopping every now and
I finally do pull up at the school, I run my fingers through
my hair and dab on a bit of makeup, just in case. (I've learned to carry an extra set in my purse.) About
this time I begin to pray that there's no reason I'll have to go in because you know what? If I didn't get
a chance to exercise—and that happens a lot—then it's likely I'm still in my pajamas! Well, so what?
Isn't working at home in your pajamas part of the American Dream? Well, it is for this author.
It's home then, and time for chores, homework, piano practice, and more errands.
On a good day, I'll I throw dinner in the oven, hoping my husband thinks about picking up bread and fruit
on his way home from work. I try to read at least a chapter from the book I'm reading.
I usually have clean laundry . . . in several baskets around the house. I mop the entire floor . . . only
when my mother-in-law comes to visitwhich unfortunately for my floor isn't very often since she lives
in Europe. And I burn almost everything I cook. In fact, for many years the first thing my husband did when
he returned home from work was to check the oven. My children have learned to like very well-done food. Now,
with my busy schedule, there are too many times when I haven't even gotten around to putting anything in the oven.
I'm so grateful for microwaves!
I have, by necessity, learned to delegate, and my children have learned to do their chores. Finally, after
many years of perseverance, they're actually helping. (I even have a child assigned to the kitchen floor, and
it gets done at least halfway, which is good enough for me.)
After dinner, it's time for brushing teeth and pajamas and family prayer. On some evenings I have speaking
engagements, meetings, or book signings, but on most nights I hang out with my children.
We used to read a lot together when they were
younger, but now we are mostly occupied with
activities and homework. But we all miss reading
together a lot, so it's my goal to start again
as soon as my baby is a bit older and doesn't
need to nurse so often.
With the kids in bed, if not asleep, sometimes my husband and I, if we're not too exhausted or loaded with
other things we must do (did I mention grocery shopping?), will watch TV. We like
love shows like CSI, and anything sci-fi-ish.
Lately we've been working our way through the
Babylon Five series. We
also like to eat ice cream all alone without any
kids to feed or clean up after. Sometimes
instead of TV or videos we might each read a book.
When we finally shut out the light, our newborn snuggled in with us, it's time for me to plan my next writing day. What direction will my
plot take? What new twists will emerge? Before I sleep, I must know where I'm going. I'm drifting off
and then I hear . . .
Or my cell rings with a text from an older
Or Lisbon wakes up and decides it's time to
eat or play.
Oh, well. That's just part of being a parent,
and I wouldn't change it for the world.