I read somewhere recently that perpetually reading blogs and other forms of social media, particularly those aimed at women who are in the trenches of family raising, is a good way to “kill your joy.” Okay, it wasn’t just “somewhere.” It was on Facebook. A blog link, in fact, that appeared in my feed because another working mom clicked “like.” A blog written by a woman in the trenches of family raising. So ironic, but so exactly what I do every single day. There is a certain–I want to say need for, but it is really more like an addiction to social media. To seeing what is up, what people are doing, what they are saying and thinking and sharing. And for me, to reading about parenting and balancing and organizing and even writing, so that as soon as I’ve filed it all away I will get right on all of that.
And there it is. There is my biggest road block, period. It matters not which road we are speaking of–could be writing, or cleaning out my closet, or planning outings with my family, or getting more involved in our church and community. I am still “educating myself” with the experiences other people have written about, or gathering information, or, in the case of writing, “fixing my writing space.” Not even kidding about that. I have been telling myself that the key to getting back into a daily, or even weekly writing practice was making an office space for myself. And not just any space. A pretty space. I would need a comfortable chair. A printer. We would need to paint first, and of course the right ambiance is nothing without carefully chosen artwork and photographs.
One of my favorite bloggers, no, humans, is Jen Hatmaker. She writes and speaks for a living, and mothers five children, and goes on amazing missions trips to Africa and Haiti, and I would link all of that but what she does is not my point. My point is that I was reading about her office a few weeks ago, which she created from an old farm shed on her property. It is lovely. It is, if I may be so bold to say about someone I do not actually know in real life, totally her. As she described the things she could see from her desk, including a few happy chickens who wandered in from time to time, I thought to myself, that is why she is so prolific, because she is surrounded by beauty and order and inspiration. And weeks passed will no renewed writing habit, because my writing space would never be as awesome as Jen Hatmaker’s.
And that is about as ridiculous an excuse as I have ever made for neglecting my writing.
There are harder hitting reasons why I don’t sit down at this desk every day, and even those are not insurmountable. In the 30 minutes since I started this piece, in fact, my phone has been vibrating “off the hook” if you will, and the cat has twice tried to raid my thread drawer, which is an arm’s length from my writing desk, and the batteries in my wireless keyboard had to be replaced before I even got out of the first paragraph. My husband and daughter are at work and school respectively, and my son is asleep, but put me in this spot at any other given time of day and–well, I might not be in this spot, because at the top of my list, tied for first, are those three people, and if I have to choose words or them, it’s them, every time. We all have those choices, and we can work to balance them, work them in when we can, or we can let them go completely, and if I’m being realistic, most times it’s a combination of the two. This room where I’ve staked out a little office space is also home to the following: my husband’s drumset, a walk-in-closet-turned-craft-nook, and my sewing machine. My husband and daughter and I come into this room when we can to practice our chosen arts. Sometimes we can’t, because there’s homework and yard work and housework and cooking and a 3 month old baby who is now part of our mix, but we do the best we can. I’ve started leaving the door open. I hope that will serve as an open invitation to us all.
All of this to say…what? I am committed to the balancing act. I’m committed to putting the words on the page again, but not because I have amply prepared. In fact, from my place at this desk I am looking at the aforementioned drumset, flanked by poster sized framed prints of movie posters that scream “MANLY!” I’m looking at a pile of fabric scraps my daughter was using to make clothes for a stuffed mouse, and at a Fisher Price Rock-and-Play, and the iron. There is a SpotBot and a bunch of boxes on the shelf behind me, loosely hidden by the squares of fabric that graced the tables at my wedding, and the walls are a bland shade of contractor off-white. It is no Jen Hatmaker office. It is, however, straight up Heather Williams. There are family photos hanging from fishing line with tiny clothespins, and a canvas my sister painted me, and the didgeridoo my husband got in Australia the summer before he went to college, and the Star Wars puzzle he and our daughter put together one Saturday last winter, and the NC State puzzle he’s been working on since our first Christmas in this house, and I really don’t think I’d have it any other way.