I am often taken by surprise when others remark on how amazed they are that I find any time to write because I have a son with autism. Maybe because I don’t know any other way. Maybe because I have to write and I must find the time.
True, some days he can be very demanding. Here are some typical interactions we have on those trying days:
“Mom, are you having a good day?” (This is asked at five minute intervals.)
“Mom, are you hungry?” (Which means he’s hungry and I need to find him something to eat before he uproots the pantry and the fridge trying to find something on his own.)
“Mom can we order an Abby doll?” (Which means he wants me to buy him a character doll from the Disney movie Chicken Little that you cannot buy anywhere on the planet, but my son refuses to believe this and continues to ask for several times a day even when told “no” – not a pretty argument.)
“Mom, where is Dad?” (This is also asked at five minute intervals even after he’s given the answer.)
“Mom, can Joey and Ashley come over to our house?” (Or whatever relatives couldn’t possibly travel large distances to reach our house today – another fun way to disappoint him.)
“Mom, you look great.” (Said repeatedly, but not often enough.)
“Look, Mom! Bananas!” (I must then pretend to be hit with a face full of bananas and cry, then Trevor will console me and apologize for ‘hitting’ me with said pretend bananas. yeah, thanks for THAT game, DAD. Also repeated ad nauseum.)
Not to mention the odd number of head noogies and bone-crushing hugs that come out of nowhere.
On these days, I do struggle to find time for anything else, let alone time to form a cohesive thought or capture that thought onto the computer in a string of words that make any sense at all. (I should always stop writing once he asks any of these questions the first time. Always.)
And he is only one person in my family that requires some of my attention. My time is in high demand.
So how do I find time to write?
I steal it.
Writing is more than just a hobby to me. It is something that I have to do. If I’m not allowed to express myself through the written word, I will… well maybe not climb a clock tower and do something blood thirsty and violent, but I will be extremely cranky. You don’t want to see me when I’m cranky. Just ask my family.
So. Instead of making their lives unbearable, I get up early in the morning while they’re all still asleep – and more importantly, silent – and I write.
For as long as I can.
Some days I steal the time while they are all away at school or work. On those days, there are many other things I could do with this time; laundry, walk the dogs, yard work, etc., but none of those things will fulfill me as much as my writing. Maybe it’s selfish to use this time just for me, but when I do get to exorcise my writing demons and exhaust that creative spirit, I don’t resent my family’s demands on my time. I’m a much more patient parent, a more tolerant spouse.
I am happy.
And we all know that when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.
I think we all have to steal a little time for ourselves, to be selfish a bit with our time. If we don’t take any time to pursue our own interests, we cannot be there for our loved ones without feeling resentment or frustration.
Make sure you take a little time this week to be selfish. Your family will appreciate it.