L. Doctorow said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of
I agree. As a wife, mother to
four, and an author, I often feel pulled in many directions. I am
convinced that my to-do list will outlive me. As I sit here writing
this article, it seems a tad silly because I know that all writers have
challenges and obstacles to conquer and overcome so they are able to
put pen to paper, or keyboard to monitor.
For me, homeschooling my four
children has proven the greatest challenge to writing consistently. Let
me explain. My children are sixteen, thirteen, and the twins are ten.
It is a blessing that my girls are older and can manage their days on
their own, but both my twins have tendencies toward Asperger’s
And therein lies part of the
“problem” (please know I use that term loosely)—not the syndrome, not
the boys. They can function one-on-one without problem because they are
missing a key attribute of Asperger’s, and thus will never be
clinically diagnosed with the syndrome. Therefore, gaining the
appropriate support and assistance for them in a public school was a
challenge I battled for several years, until I finally realized my boys
would be best served in the quiet and peace of our own home, away from
crowds and overstimulation.
God blessed me while earning my
bachelor’s degree—and before I learned of my twins’ tendencies—by
prompting me with a fascination with the spectrum. I did every research
paper and term paper on autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The summer
before a psychologist declared the boys had a “truckload” of Aspie
symptoms, I held an internship at a facility that specializes in
helping children within spectrum thrive. I learned how to educate
them—how to “reroute” their thinking and gain their cooperation.
I absolutely love homeschooling
my children, and on the days my boys completely wear me out, I am once
again grateful for the blessing of my education and the opportunity to
provide the boys a quiet place for their learning with modifications
tailored to their needs and the myriad of idiosyncrasies.
But this very same blessing of
homeschooling my children often makes it a great challenge to
accomplish . . . well, anything else. Some days it takes us an hour to
get through one math lesson that should (normally) take twenty minutes.
Other times the boys become agitated, and instead of working, they
experience a meltdown. The toll it exacts from me and my mood is
strenuous. At times, I’ve found this quite frustrating—yet how can I
So I feel a mixture of guilt and
frustration (don’t we all feel that to some degree?). Last semester
(fall ’09) proved quite adventurous with one
daughter in driver’s education, one child in a church group that met on
Tuesdays, Webelos for the twins on Tuesdays, soccer practice on
Wednesdays, my husband attending college on Mondays, and family night
on Fridays. That left me with Thursdays—and of course the weekend, but
we had soccer games on Saturdays and church on Sundays.
Quickly, I started losing my joy
of writing. That was, in all honesty, the greatest fear I faced in
seeking publication. I remember my husband, oh so many years ago,
prodding me to try to get published. I shunned and abhorred the idea.
Partially out of fear of rejection, but also I was intensely afraid
that the one thing I loved as much as breathing—writing—would become a
took rearranging our lives, implementing a daily
service-opportunity chart (thanks to my friend KW) with all work around
the house spelled out and distributed over every day of the week, save
Sundays, to help me find balance once again. It required my girls to
assume some responsibilities in the family, including helping with
meals on certain days. Our motto is We’re a Family; everyone
So it was that I reclaimed my
writing time, learned once again how to focus on my Audience of One, to
dig in and find the deep thrill and joy of writing. Together with my
family, writing became a priority (not over my family, but with
the help of my family). My family is still adjusting to my writing as a
“job”—a career that requires the same diligence their father gives to
his job. I have a doorknocker on the knob of my office door. My
children now know that when the door is closed and they see the
knocker, that’s my writing time. No interruptions unless there’s blood
or money involved (just joking—about the money, that is).
It’s not easy. As a matter of
fact, it’s quite draining. I don’t like being shut away from my family
(I’m very much a people person), but I am committed to my career;
however, I am flexible and so is the family. Brian, my husband, is
amazing in that if I have missed a great deal of time from writing
because of family obligations, appointments, unexpected illness, or
whatnots, he helps me take a good portion of a Saturday, or sometimes a
Sunday, so that I can catch up and plug-in again.
Normal Vincent Peale said,
“Nothing of great value in this life comes easily. The things of
highest value sometimes come hard. The gold that has the greatest value
lies deepest in the earth, as do the diamonds.” So true. Writing is
hard work. It involves commitment, not just from oneself, but from
those who must support us in this fabulous journey as we cut, polish,
and let gleam the diamonds of our writing!