I was recently at the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference where one of the presenters talked about her writing history. She has five published titles, some of which have won awards and have had the rights purchased by Hollywood. She has a Masters in Fine Arts and she’s a mother of eight-teen month old triplets. Her accomplishments as an author “wow’d” the audience but it was her success as a writer as well as a mother of multiples that blew me away. She told us she only has three hours to write a day with a goal of finishing five pages in those three hours.
I tried to remember what life was like when my boys were eight-teen months old. My daughter was in preschool for three hours every morning. My boys would nap in the car when we went to pick her up from school, so of course I left ninety minutes for the fifteen minute commute to the preschool. While they slept in the car, I would do things that were slow, that took time to do because they slowed down time. I ate apples. Not sliced apples, whole apples, because it takes longer to eat a whole apple. I also started reading again. It had been nearly two years since I had picked up a book, a real book that wasn’t a twin reference guide. I savored the vacation from my life that the books offered as I “hid” in faraway times and places. I even savored the adult interactions I found from the characters in the books, because being a stay-at-home mom can be very lonely.
There were a thousand other things that I could have done with that time. I could have even sleep-trained by boys to sleep at home so I could actually get dinner made or the laundry transferred from the washer to the dryer. I could have mowed the lawn, vacuumed, dusted the house, cleaned out the fridge, invested in a veggie garden and canned my own winter stores like my contemporaries with only one kid were doing. But all those things I could have done, would not have replenished my soul. Being a mother of multiples is like being a triage nurse on a battle field. You’re constantly classifying things that needs to be addressed most urgently, things that can wait, and things that would be better off dead (like my collection of African Violets.) Carving out that time for myself to be slow, to read and eat apples, recharged my batteries and restored my sanity.
Thinking about the author at the conference who was also a mother of multiples, I realized that she had accomplished skills as a writer before her multiples were born so that when she dedicated time every day to her writing, she’s also replenished her soul. She escaped the chaos of life with multiples while she listened to her character’s stories. Her talent as a writer then allowed her to translate those stories in books to be shared and enjoyed by teen readers across the globe.
It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of others those first three to five years of being a parent of multiples. Savoring the moments when we can slow down life and invest in ourselves makes us stronger so we can take on the surprises we find back out on the battle field.
Jennifer Smith-Daigle is a stay-at-home mother of a fourth-grade daughter and twin first-grade boys. She and her boys are survivors of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, being some of the first 200 people in the United States to be cured by Fetoscopic Laser Ablation surgery. Jennifer’s life before kids included world travel, historic preservation, and archaeology digs. When she’s not busy with a house full of kids and enough mammals to constitute a small zoo, Jennifer finds freedom in freelance writing, martial arts, and gardening.