A Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home-Writer

category Erin Lopez, Life, Writing 5

6:25 AM — I hear Four Year Old struggling with the door and I roll over and pretend I’m asleep. This little morning ritual typically happens around 5:30 AM and sometimes, when I don’t respond, she goes back to bed.

“Momma, will you make me breakfast?” she asks and nudges me.

No such luck this time. I’m reach for my clock at the same time my husband’s alarm beeps. Looks like I’m starting my day, so I roll out of bed and carefully wind my way down the stairs in a groggy haze because nothing says “happy day” like a broken leg on the way to making your kid a toaster waffle.

7:15 AM — Breakfast for the adults and Four Year Old has been served and lunch for my husband is packed. After a quick family prayer, Four Year Old and I wave goodbye to Daddy as he drives off to work. It’s raining and Four Year Old wants to splash in the puddles. We put on our boots and jackets and go out to the back porch. After seven minutes I convince her to go back inside for some lukewarm “hot chocolate” and a movie. She picks out Cinderella (the animated version) and settles down on the couch while I flip open my planner and start today’s to-do list. Since breakfast this morning was a random assortment of mismatched foods, it’s clear today’s goal is grocery shopping.

7:38 — I walk back upstairs and hear Two Year Old singing to Dolly, her beloved doll (clearly we are very original with names). She’s awake, but I really need a shower since I can’t remember when I last shampooed my hair. Since she’s not screaming, I decide to risk it. I compromise by leaving the hallway door open. It takes an eternity for the hot water to come.

8:24 — Two Year Old is up and eating toast while enjoying Cinderella with her big sister. Happy mice are singing in the background while I look through the cupboards for the things we’ll need from the grocery store and add them to my list.

9:31 — We’ve made it out the door with minimal tears. Four Year Old has managed to find the two pieces of clothing in both her and her sister’s dressers that completely clash, and I don’t care. My life became exponentially easier once Four Year Old started dressing herself in the morning. If she wants to wear a flowery dress with fruit pajama pants, who I am to argue? We’re off to Costco.

10:38 — Costco plus the holiday season equals madness, even on a Thursday morning. I’ve been around Costco twice to find all the samples (the kids disliked most of them), and I still cannot find the hotdogs. I stop at the holiday popcorn table and the kids get really excited about a sample they actually like. Four Year Old wants to try the black forest truffle popcorn and I get some cheddar popcorn for Two Year Old. I make sure Four Year Old actually likes her popcorn before I grab a pumpkin spice cup. I try to find a way out and realize I’m trapped in between the people passing me and the table. I see an opening and suddenly a sweaty, balding man steps towards me and says “You’ve got your popcorn, you need to move.” This guy is very lucky he did not run into me yesterday. Yesterday I was sleep deprived and would have told him off as many a door-to-door salesmen can attest (never ring the doorbell during nap time). Today I just smile, glare, and say “I’m working on it” in the voice I reserve for my kids when they’re driving me crazy. He backs up and at least has the sense to look embarrassed. I eventually find the hotdogs and make my way to the car.

11:05 — Four year old wants to call Daddy and tell him about the new Equestria Girls movie we found at Costco. I call my husband and then give her the phone while I load groceries into the car. Two Year Old wants the phone too and starts screaming when Four Year Old doesn’t give it up. Once everyone’s in the car, Four Year Old hands the phone to her little sister who promptly hangs up on her daddy.

12:32 — Two year old is down for a nap and Four Year Old is playing with the Leap Frog tablet (which she calls the Leapster). Quiet time has officially begun, and I’m so excited. I haven’t written in four weeks because we’ve moved to a new city and I’ve been busy putting the house together. My fingers itch with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension because they know today we write!

I start by setting up my laptop and heat water in the kettle to make my favorite hot drink. While I wait for my drink to brew, I write an email.

1:01 — Drink is ready so I carry it and a tray to my room. I close my email, put my phone on “do not disturb” mode, take off my watch, and locate my headphones. This is it! I finally get to write a scene that’s been banging around in my head. I stare at the blank page, take a deep breath, and slowly start typing the first sentence.

1:09 — Four year old comes in. She’s still hungry and wants bread. I run down to the kitchen and grab a few slices. I remind my her that Mommy needs quiet time too and there will be no more snacks.

1:12 — Two Year Old suddenly starts banging her feet on the crib and it sounds like machine gun fire. I turn up my music to drown it out but even that doesn’t help. I get up to check on her and when I reach the door the pounding stops.

1:14 — I just managed to sit down again and replace my headphones when Two Year Old’s machine gun feet start up again. This time I go into her room and check to see if she needs a diaper change. She doesn’t. I tell her to lay down and cover her with a blanket. Miraculously she doesn’t cry when I leave the room and I take this as a good sign she’ll drift off to sleep.

1:33 — I’ve managed one hundred words when Four Year Old comes in again. Her little sister being awake and pounding the crib is bothering her.

2:00 — I’m seven hundred words deep when it feels like the clog in my writing faucet has come out. Words flow to the page; I have found my groove again. Four Year Old comes in and wants her water bottle. It’s in my bag on a shelf she cannot reach so I run down and get it for her while my mind is buzzing with dialogue. I hand over the water bottle and Four Year Old says “If you need me, I’ll be on the couch with my Leapster and Family Dog.” Thanks for letting me know.

2:40 — Somehow the near constant interruptions has not disturbed my flow and words are flying on the page. I can honestly say it’s been months since I’ve last hit this writing sweet spot.

2:41 — Four year old is back and declares she is done with her Leapster, so now we can talk. I am torn between being touched at her sweetness and annoyed at another interruption. I take a deep breath and explain that it’s still quiet time (I haven’t heard Two Year Old in a bit and that might mean she finally went to sleep). If she is bored with the Leapster then she can play quietly in her room. She chooses the Leapster and climbs onto the bed with me. I dive back into writing with the fear that if I stop in the middle of this scene, I’ll lose it.

3:01 — I hear the machine gun feet pounding coming from Two Year Old’s room and die a little inside. I just got to the emotional crux I’ve been building to for the last hour. Somehow I’ve managed to ignore Four Year Old’s feet kicking me as I write this emotionally charged scene. I’m typing as fast as I can, knowing this is my last sentence before I need to grab my toddler. How I am going to get into this mood the next time I sit down to work on this is beyond me. I try to write a few more sentences in the hopes that it won’t fall apart the next time I look at it.

3:02 — Four Year Old jumps up and declares Two Year Old is awake. I nod and try to squeeze in my third “last sentence.”

“I’m going to go get her up and show her the Leapster,” Four Year Old says and I relax a little.

“Okay,” I respond. This could give me another twenty minutes I need to finish.

3:10 — Four Year Old is back and Two Year Old is screaming because Four Year Old took the Leapster with her. “Just one more sentence,” I tell myself.

3:14 — Two Year Old is jumping in her crib and talking to her dollies. Four Year Old is rolling around on the bed playing another game. Her feet keep knocking into my computer screen. “Stop it,” I say and she rolls away. She goes back to hang out with her little sister.

3:34 — I’m really close to finishing this scene and now Four Year Old is engrossed in the Leapster again but Two Year Old is starting to cry. I grab the iPad and find a fishing game for her. I just might be able to make it.

3:58 — Somehow both kids have become so engrossed in their games while I manage to write the actual last sentence. By now, I have emotionally wrecked two of my characters and am close to tears myself. I’m not sure how one of my characters is ever going to recover and the edges of her sadness seep into me through my fingertips. I know in that moment she will recover and I start planning out the next scene.

4:06 — The fact that I just let my Four Year Old have over three hours of screen time starts making me feel guilty and I declare Quiet Time over. I fetch the iPad from Two Year Old, who starts to scream. Four Year Old wants to watch another movie, I say no and tell her it’s playtime. Both girls run downstairs and I hear the sound of 10,000 toys being dumped out on the floor before I make my way to the kitchen and start getting stuff together for dinner.

4:55 — I’m riding the rest of this day out on my writing buzz. It’s a weird state of limbo where the joy of having written is counteracting the effects of a long day of constantly hearing children’s voices. I just hope my husband walks through the door soon and the kids don’t notice their early bedtime.

5:36 — Dinner is put on the table and my mind is still swimming with characters, plot points, and my next scene. My exhilaration about what I just wrote is wearing off and anxiety is upon me. What if it’s not as good as I remembered? What if it’s just all wrong? What if I made a huge mistake? I take a deep breath to calm myself and pick up my screaming two year old.

7:30 — Bedtime finally rolls around. I lay down on the bed, completely exhausted. After a minute or two, I push myself up and grab my laptop and some chocolate. Time to write that blog post for Meryton Press.

5 Responses

  1. Suzan Lauder

    Wow, Erin! Great job getting so much out under the circumstances. You keep at it. You deserve it!

  2. Denise

    been there!


  3. Sophia Rose

    You are a good mom and I love how you shared a slice of your life as a writer-mom. Stay with it and yes, that scene you wrote was probably as good as you remembered. 🙂

  4. Sheila L. M.

    Been there – even if I am not an author! For me it was reading the next paragraph in a good historical romance. BTW: my granddaughter’s doll is “baby”, another original name. I saved an article I read when I was a new mother about attempting to get in the shower before “Daddy” comes home. And that was with just one child. But they do grow up and then you are saying, “Remember when….?”

    But thanks for this very realistic look at being a mom with a career other than wife-mother-chef-nurse-educator-songster-story teller-chauffeur-best friend-referee, etc. Laughing all the way!

    Happy New Year

  5. Melanie Stanford

    I’ve so been here- with four kids I know what all of this is like. Even though I miss the little ones sometimes, it’s nice to have all four of my kids in all day school now- leaves me lots and lots of quiet writing time. I feel very lucky and blessed to be able to stay home and write. 🙂