Writing can be fun, when the ideas are there, the words flow and appear on the page just the way you want them to. It can also be a struggle. This is not helped by having a toddler underfoot. Here is a glimpse into a life of writing with a toddler…
My daughter is now nineteen months old. Hi sweetie, what would you like? More? More what? Hang on a minute. She is like any toddler: gorgeous, fun, full of energy, sometimes – You want some cheese? OK, no worries, I’ll get some for you [goes and cuts up some cheese and brings it back to the table] – challenging and demanding.
She has now cut out her daytime nap and so went my uninterrupted two hours a day – All finished, darling? More? There’s no more cheese; what else would you like? Rice Bubbles? OK [goes and pours cereal and milk into a bowl and brings it back to the table] – of writing time.
There are moments she wants my undivided attention, so we’ll read stories, sing and dance, run around chasing each other, play games – Are you done? No? You want me to help? [helps toddler with the last few spoonfuls of cereal] - and we bake and she ‘helps’ with the housework.
There are other times she plays by herself. If it’s not too cold, I leave the back door open and she’ll run in and out, playing with the dog and – Oh, um, do you smell? Come here. Ooh, OK, come on; into your room [goes and changes nappy] – her trucks and the dirt, then inside to play a game, read a story to herself or put her dolls to bed. Um, I hope you didn’t just hit the dog. You need to be gentle with Taylor; you know that.
Of course, the moments of playing alone generally don’t coincide with the times I’d like to sit and write. This is the challenging part of - That’s lovely, sweetie, patting Taylor nice and gently – mixing writing and parenting: your needs and those of your child often don’t match. You want a drink? Your cup’s just over th… oh, where did it go? [goes in search for water cup; it's empty, goes to fill it up]. So sometimes it’s about putting things aside and taking the time to make your toddler happy, to stop yourself feeling like a mother who’s always telling her child to go away, and to enjoy life from the eyes of a carefree child. You want to watch The Wiggles now? Um, I don’t know, you watched them yesterday. Um… oh, hang on…
At other points, it’s about using whatever moments you can steal, just to achieve what you need to that day. OK, we’ll put the DVD on. When that’s over, we’ll play.