What writing taught me about hard days

Writing, like the quiet but steady therapist that it is, has helped me work through a lot.

I knew that I needed to get to it as soon as possible when I woke up this morning and felt grumpy and unsettled but I have two little boys. Breakfast had to be made and books had to be read. When I got everyone settled into their games and a movie put on the TV, I sat down at my desk.

It did not go well.

From the living room I heard the sound of wooden swords clashing and battle cries that I’m sure would have rivaled the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War.

They’re boys. They’re great boys who are (usually) respectful and (almost always) polite, but when they play they’re terrifying little monsters.

Because I home school, they’re with me all the time and I love it, admittedly, sometimes a little more than others.

Today my love for it wasn’t as strong. I couldn’t think with their yelling and they couldn’t stop coming into the library to ask me questions once I turned off the tv and confiscated their swords for cracking each other over the head one too many times. I took a deep breath, closed my computer and put my writing off until after their bedtime, like I sometimes have to do, knowing that this is life as a ‘would be writer’ with kids. I made peace with it.

The rest of the day just got harder. I tried to strong arm my psyche into having a positive attitude but we were all cranky and tired from a night of being up because of monsters in the closet. I wanted to finish a thought without being interrupted. I wanted to wash one dish without hearing the word “Maaaamaaaaaa” drawn out like a long note on an out of tune violin. I wanted to read a page without having the book fly out of my hands because of an action figure hurling at me from across the room but they’re kids, and I try to love that more than I want 5 minutes of peace.

Today I just wanted the 5 minutes but I kept going.

When a friend called while the boys were (FINALLY) napping and told me that her mom had just stopped by to give her a break from her crying baby. “Do you want to go out for coffee?” she asked. “It’s been a really long day.” I laughed. Said no then hung the phone up and cried.

I so badly wanted to go out for coffee and leave my kids at home with my mom. Well, not my mom, but A mom.

It’s days like today, when I find myself in a perfect storm of everyday stress that I miss having a mom to lean on even if all she did was stop by to give me a half hour break and tell me that I’m doing a good job.

But she’s not and that’s life. No matter how much I long for the idealized version of a mom, for what my grandmothers were to their daughters and what my step mom is to hers, I will never have it. Just like writing this morning, wanting it, trying to force it, doesn’t work.

The act of consistent writing has taught me a lot. Today it was a quiet reminder that whether it’s my kids fighting against my sitting down to write or the fact that I wasn’t meant to have the ease that comes with a maternal shoulder to lean on, sometimes all I can do is breathe deeply, pray for grace, and accept it.



Callie Armstrong © 2013


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Freda Moya says:

    Wow: Just read this and felt every word and moment of which you wrote! I almost shed a tear, but being British it was more of a lip tremble! I completely empathise with you. My mum is not around (lives far away) and even if she was I wouldn’t get the support I crave. I spend some days wishing things were different but they ae not and probably never will be so accepting is all you can do. But some days are HAAAAARD when you are on your own all day with kids (and I don’t home school because I teach in a school,) But the days when you just want 5 minutes and they don’t come. Aaaaargh! It’s hard when you want to get into the writing because, as you say it can be so cathartic. Then when you can’t write because kids need you and you don’t begrudge that but it becomes frustrating and a cycle starts. Then the tears. It’s good to know in some ways I’m not the only one in the world who feels like this (though of course it always feels like it at the time.) Oh and I admire you greatly for home schooling! You must be a saint!

    1. calliedeanne says:

      Not a saint. Just stupid. Haha

      I’m glad I’m not the only one. I g

    2. calliedeanne says:

      Whoops, hit send early-

      I get most of my writing done at night but look forward to being able to wake up and get to it right away. Do you write with a schedule at all?

      1. Freda Moya says:

        Not at all! Unfortunately. Life is too unpredictable and unfortunately my day job means a lot of work gets brought home too so I have to write when I can. Usually at night once little one is in bed. School holiday mean I get more writing done but I just have to generally grab the quiet moments when they come. But of course inspiration/mood don’t always strike at convenient moments and then sometimes you have the moment but not the inclination!!

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