Double lives

I’ve just finished a marathon reading of the book Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood. It’s an anthology of personal essays by Canadian women writers who struggle to balance the passion of writing with the challenges of parenting. I purchased it several months ago with a gift certificate I received at Christmas. With a mountain of books towering on my nightstand and lined up, ready to read on my Kindle, it sat patiently waiting until last week ago when I finally decided to dive in.

I’m not sure it’s meant to be read from cover to cover as quickly as I did, but I simply couldn’t put it down. Each writer offers a different, and yet resonant perspective about the path we forge as mothers and writers. How, so often, motherhood offers the very gifts that influence and affect the depth of our writing, while at the same time taking away the time and focus we need to fully develop the craft.

As each page turned quietly in my hands, I was inspired, moved to tears, and uplifted through words of complete honesty, understanding and support. Each and every author in this book, many of whom I didn’t know before reading it, gets it exactly right. All of them.

From Denise Roig who writes:

How do I accomodate the needs of the people I love most in the world and my own (not inconsiderable) need for time, space and quiet to write?

To Cori Howard:

I had been raised on the abominable myth that women can have it all, do it all — career, family, everything. What kind of feminist would raise their daughter believe that kind of crap? Anyway, I was still new to motherhood and in the throes of a pretty major identity crises, so I was still grasping onto my life as a freelance writer.

To Robyn Sarah, who captured my heart and a few tears with the words:

Yet there is no question in my mind that it was during this period that I found my voice as a poet. Taking my place in the chain of generation —the physical, emotional, and spiritual voyage of becoming a parent—was what liberated the writer in me.”

Her words accurately describe my own journey as writer. While I’ve always been a writer, and do a significant amount of writing professionally, it has never been what it has become in the last couple of years. Before becoming a mother, I simply dabbled and wrote primarily institutional, journalism style writing. While this passage was the right one for me, and the fit good, I didn’t truly find my voice until I became a mother.

As I snuggled in bed these last few nights, inhaling every honest and humble word, underlining passages and feeling a deep kinship with each woman’s voice, I was struck by the hand I had been dealt by the universe. It seems truly fortunate that I should finally immerse myself in this enriching collection at the very moment when I feel such an acute sense of  struggle to balance my own multiple lives as mother, full-time professional, and aspiring writer.

I’m left with an incredible amount of inspiration from their collective wisdom. But even more importantly I feel a renewed sense of solidarity that compels me to push forward and continue to explore my writing, however and whenever I may.  Whether on this blog, in my personal journal or through the development of my book, I understand that all of it contributes meaningfully to my personal faith as a woman, writer and mother.

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8 thoughts on “Double lives

  1. Cathy says:

    I like the first quote you cite. It can apply to a variety of things. Today I just posted a bunch of random questions and one of them was how do I get what I need as well as give to my husband, children and job. It’s not writing-specific, but rather a sense of accomplishment in something other than child-rearing or profession. Although I guess these are women who became writers. Maybe I can be a woman who becomes a good golfer.

  2. I am definitely going to check this book out Christine. I grapple with the same question as Denise Roig. There are not enough hours in the day to write, mother, wife and be the general go to girl. I’d like my writing to simmer a bit in my head before I put it down on the page. Many times I’m not afforded that luxury.

  3. Looks like a truly wonderful read. I have been there, done that for years now, trying to balance the writing side of myself (which is so selfish, and needs to be) and the family side of myself.

  4. I love this, Christine: “I didn’t find my voice until I became a mother.”

    Parenthood deepens us beyond anything we can imagine. It opens us up for all sorts of experience and awareness.

  5. Stacia says:

    I so often find that “renewed sense of solidarity” through the blog world. I’d love to find it in a book, too. (Thanks for the recommendation.) And it is crap, isn’t it? The idea that a woman can have it all (work, family, fulfillment) without any of the guilt, stress, and exhaustion that I so often feel and know that you do, too. So here I am again, standing (typing?) in solidarity with you, drawing strength from your words, and storing up the energy I’ll need to get up and do all of this again tomorrow and the next day and the next. (And raising my glass of wine in celebration to all we manage to accomplish every day!) =>

  6. I absolutely want to read this book!

  7. Wonderful interview, Christine. (Especially early on a Monday morning when I would love to hit that Pause button already!) Sounds like plenty of wisdom in this book.

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