It’s nine weeks until my first child is due. I try to plan out when I can actually sit down to write the book I’ve always wanted to write but have always put off. I’ve told myself, I’ll do it after I finish college. Next it was, I’ve got to look for a job. Then, As soon as I get more settled and have a few weekends to myself, and the last excuse was, After law school. It’s been two years since law school—still no book.
Could I actually write it during my maternity leave? I cringe thinking about how my mom and older sister would react to that idea. They would nod, slow, well-disguised smirks surfacing on their lips as they gave each other knowing looks. They would successfully hold in their laughter, not wanting to be unsupportive. With serious voices, they would break it to me that I am unaware of what’s in store for me. I know they’re right. Everyone tells me that between feedings, diaper changing, laundry and simply trying to get some sleep, you don’t have time for anything else.
I already love this baby so much, but does her birth mean that time is up for my book and me? I’m not complaining; I’m happy we’re having a baby. I am ready for the responsibility. But is it time for me to finally give up this notion of writing a novel?
I think about all the women who accomplished so much after having children. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was completing her Ph.D. while her daughters were in high school. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, then a single mom, got fired for doing creative writing on her work computer (note to self: delete novel files). Then there are a whole slew of mothers who aren’t famous, but who kick butt at home, at work or in their communities every day.
But what if I don’t have what it takes? John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (Like planning to wipe down the kitchen counter, maybe?) If you don’t focus on your goal, someone else who showed it a little more respect will reach it. Still, though I haven’t written my novel yet, I have accomplished important things. But only after I said, “I’m going to do this.” The goal became a given—there were no doubts. Most times, I did these things without thinking them all the way through. Some didn’t turn out the way I planned, but at least I’m not still thinking about doing them “someday,” regretting that I haven’t.
So if need be, I can shirk the household chores and be otherwise much less than perfect in order to write my book. Being a mom does not give me one more excuse to put off this goal. It actually gives me a reason to do it—now.
When my daughter is grown and wonders if she has what it takes, I hope she can look at me and know that she does.
--By Patricia Perez (not pictured)