Motherhood, especially in the early years, can be an all-encompassing identity. Your own dreams, wants and needs are put on hold indefinitely, often for years, and it’s hard to remember, at times, the person you were pre-baby.
That’s why it’s good to write about it and remind yourself of who you once were. This moving essay by Deb Sessions does just that.
‘Four years ago I sat in a cafe jotting down ideas and characters, congratulating myself on my word count. Today, I sat typing this, congratulating myself on having showered and been to the toilet alone.‘
Deb grew up in England and moved to Australia in her late twenties, for love. She’s a Mum to two highly energetic boys, two and three years old. She loves all things creative but especially writing. You can find some of her writing over at Cub and Cave.
Am I A Writer?
When Louise asked me to write a piece for her series, I immediately panicked because I am not a writer. I don’t write regularly, unless you count WhatsApp messages. But then I sat down and thought about it some more.
The closest I’ve been to a pen this week was to scrub ink off the floor after my three year old wanted to ‘make sure it was working’. My laptop is used almost exclusively for online grocery shopping, and all of my beautiful notepads are filled with to-do lists, scribbles and drool. Highlighters that were once used for old-school editing are now part of my youngest sons diet! Yet,underneath my snot, food and dirt-covered exterior hides a writer that I believe has always been there.
I think we often define ourselves by our current situation or role, which for me means that I am a housewife and a mother and definitely not a writer. Yet in my heart I am a writer. But is that enough? If my son is an astronaut at heart, is he really an astronaut? I’ve been a parent for less than four years and yet I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I could scribble the alphabet, so perhaps I’m just on long service leave.
‘I’ve been a parent for less than four years and yet I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I could scribble the alphabet, so perhaps I’m just on long service leave.’
I had a poem published in the local paper when I was at Primary school and they gave me a full page, declaring in huge letters that ‘ Deborah really hates litter’. At ten years old I pretty much thought I was famous because there had been a headline written about me. Soon after, I wrote a series of children’s books for my youngest sister about a pig called Porky Jolly and I still have them all now. I remember writing them and illustrating them whilst Mum, Dad and us three kids sat on the sofa together watching, ‘The Darling Buds of May’. I still can’t see David Jason or Pam Ferris without thinking about Porky Jolly and his best friend, Martha Mouse.
Roald Dahl and Gillian Cross were big influences in my childhood and I wanted to write books like theirs. Books of escapism and adventure. I briefly wanted to be a hairdresser, too, but otherwise my dream was always to be an author. And it still is. At high school we were forced to do a two-week work placement in our chosen career. My chosen career was to be an author. I was told very quickly that it was not possible, so I asked to work in journalism and was swiftly placed in a beauty salon where I made cups of tea and watched incredibly hairy legs being waxed.
During my early teens, before computers were common in every household, I was part of a pen pal club and I had pen pals all over the world. I told all of them about my passion for writing and with several of them we wrote stories together, handwriting an A4 sheet twice, keeping one copy and mailing the other until gradually we had the makings of a story, written together, page by page. I could not rip the envelope open quick enough once the return mail arrived and at that moment, nothing else in the world mattered apart from writing the next page of the novel. I would grab my pens and paper and sit at the dining table, lost somewhere inside my imagination.
My other sister and I wrote plays too and often giggle over an awful musical that we wrote, called ‘Gloria EsteCan’. Our childhood was filled with books and make-believe play and I don’t know if that was spurred by my desire to write fiction, or if my playful, imaginative childhood created the writer.
Recently I have written a few blog posts for the blog Cub and Cave and found it so therapeutic, but my passion lies with fiction. I still scribble ideas down occasionally but other than that, my time is now sucked into the vortex that is motherhood. Four years ago I sat in a cafe jotting down ideas and characters, congratulating myself on my word count. Today, I sat typing this, congratulating myself on having showered and been to the toilet alone. High Five?
Writing this piece started off terrifying but in the end it’s allowed me to realise that I am a writer and have been for a long time. The passion to create stories has not gone away and I have a feeling it will be a wonderful way to enrich, connect and laugh with my boys in just a few years.
If you’d like to write a post for Writers in the Attic, please contact me here. The topic is anything to do with writing—your writing life, what writing means to you, or what has influenced your writing. 600-1000 words is a good length, and I acknowledge the time and effort involved in writing these pieces by sending a small gift as a thank you.
Please keep the essays coming!
If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to contact me.