The Bump has partnered with some amazing mothers who also happen to be amazing writers. They’re dishing out all their thoughts, observations and real life lessons about mothering in the best way they know how. We’re embarking on an essay series and we’re hoping you’ll follow along as these authors share what they’ve learned about motherhood through their inspiring navigation of the written word.
First up: Maria Kostaki , author of Pieces. Kostaki is a native of Moscow, Russia, but has spent most of her adult life on a plane from Athens, Greece to New York City and back. She has worked as an editor and staff writer for Odyssey magazine in Athens and New York, and her nonfiction has appeared in publications including Elle Décor and Insider Magazine.
Make sure to join our #MomsWriteNow Twitter chat with Kostaki on Thursday from 1pm-2pm EST by following us at @TheBump.
I wrote my first novel years before I had my son. Then, I thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. And it was. When my son was about three months old, I began to daily swear that I’d never have another child, convinced that being a mother was the hardest thing anyone can do.
Yeah, we all know that writing and parenting are strenuous, excruciating, but at the same time, extremely rewarding. Both take over your life, both become exclusively who you are for as long as you’re doing it. It’s all you think about and everything you do is somehow connected to each. To me, at least. It’s overwhelming, all-consuming, maddening.
These days, I want to write, and when that happens, it’s uncontrollable. It comes at no specific time, mostly because I have no time, but when a scene or a thought pops into my head, I have to do it there and then. I write this now with my two-year-old’s legs are wrapped around my neck, and a teddy on my keyboard. Up until a few months ago, when my husband was home and able to distract our son for a few seconds for me to disappear unnoticed, I’d hide in the bathroom and try and type thoughts on my smartphone, a habit that left me with zero to show since the toddler would either slam open the door and grab my phone, or cry "mommy" until I came out. That’s how kids are; they don’t care if their mom may be having an artistic moment. On the toilet.
I’m a stay-at-home mom, and for whatever reasons, good or bad, right or wrong, I chose to make my son my life for the past two years. As a result, I have mommy brain. I can’t concentrate for more than five minutes, I can’t read more than a page, I’ve read two books in the past two years (one of them during subway rides through Manhattan on my one week away from my family last month), my language skills have suffered immensely, and it takes me forever to write what would have taken me an hour a few short years ago. I feel dumb, I think I sound dumb. A regression of some sort.
But I’m okay with all that. I didn’t choose to publish my book until five years after I finished it. In those five years, so many things had changed in my life. When I first reread it, I did not recognize myself. I thought I sounded more than dumb. But it was too late to go back, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to. It was a part of me, a younger me, a different me, but now it was whole. It was complete, edited, proofread, and I held the first copy in my hands. It was no longer mine to do with what I pleased. It had a life of its own. Others have read it. People have judged it, liked it, hated it. All I could do — to a limit — was promote it, help it, maybe even open a door for it.
That is what writing has taught me about parenthood to date. Of course, raising a child is a much greater feat and a bigger responsibility than writing a novel. But if you immerse yourself wholly in both, the same rules apply. Give it your soul, make it your life, judge and question yourself daily, fear failure and never stop dreaming of success. Only then will you be the best you can be. Just like your book, poem or painting, your child is part of you, is guided by you, molded by you, but will always have a life of his or her own. And you can only hope that the paths are cleared, the right people met, and that you will always be there, by their side, somehow holding on to that little finger, to the sound of that voice, to a sentence, to a page.