Considering the subject of this post, I’m pretty sure to earn myself some flack so let’s just cover the “role” biases right off. For over fifteen years of my marriage, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Because my husband worked long hours earning his Ph.D. and working, I did what I could to save money and I did most of the housework–which isn’t saying much because I’m a horrible housekeeper–and took care of the day-to-day activities with the children. My husband was always willing to help, but we ended up with rather traditional family roles. I was good with that.
Then, I took a chance with my writing and realized how much I wanted to become an author. My husband was on-board, but to be honest, it took a while. Change rarely occurs like the flip of a coin. It’s a gradual process. I often felt like the words of encouragement coming from his mouth didn’t match the expectations that still went on with our family. I couldn’t write all day while the kids were in school and still get the laundry, cooking, errands, etc. done and not have more help from my family. It was tough. On everyone.
As my husband realized my struggles, the dynamics started to change. He never complained about a messy house before; he’s not that kind of guy, but I could often sense his irritation. More and more, I noticed him evaluating my time and progress as an author against the discomfort of some clutter and un-done projects, and I won out. When I got down, instead of saying that taking the time to write was okay, he started reminding me that it was important. Despite his heavy work load and long commute, he started taking more time with the kids and the house. Recently, family circumstances required that I get a regular paycheck.
Now, I find myself trying to juggle the house, kids, job, and writing. No matter what people say about the modern world and modern women, we still tend to feel responsible for the grocery shopping, meals, laundry, and the activities of our children, even if we can divide up all the housework. I still take those responsibilities on myself, but again, my husband stepped up. He works from home twice a week and started taking care of many of the family appointments on those days, often working late into the night to compensate. With our change in schedule, he’s had to take the kids to school every morning and picks them up twice a week, which is a fair chunk of his work time. I often write at night and he works on his computer, making up for what he couldn’t get done during the day. He also does the dishes every day, even when I’m not able to lift a finger in the house because of other responsibilities and writing time. Last week, I made the list and he did the grocery shopping. I think we work as a team better than we ever have before in our 20+ years of marriage.
Often, when I consider how much more money he makes compared to me, it doesn’t seem fair that he bends over backward to help me with my work and goals when the return is so comparably minimal. And then I remember, that it’s not about my work, or his work, or money. It’s about goals, and each other, and the things in life that matter to us and the fact that we have always put each other first.
As we talk this month about making time to write, I’m glad that my husband and I took time to communicate, to be patient with one another, to learn how to be supportive, and to never give up. So, how do I find time to write? I make time, in part because I owe it to those who have supported and encouraged me for so long–my family. I think we all need our close family to be cheerleaders and if you don’t have that, I suggest some understanding talks and perhaps some counseling. Making time for writing is important, but working with your loved ones to balance that time and to understand one another will make all the difference in the world, both in your writing and in life.
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net