If you’re a mom, at some point or another (or maybe every day) you’ve wanted to run away. I know this is true like I know that the sun will come up tomorrow, my incorrigible dog will never come when I call her, and that it’s highly unlikely my kids will ever empty out the sink strainer or replace a toilet paper roll.
When I first moved to our little hillside farm in our small town in south-central Pennsylvania, I hated it. Not the farm, but the backward, seemingly judgmental community harboring mean people who did things like steal my yard signs supporting an enlightened candidate who could change everything, threw their yard trash, broken computers and worn out furniture down the embankment at the far end of our road, and filled the lines of the ten (count ‘em) fast food restaurant drive-thrus that passed for fine dining in our little town.
I spent my days dealing with an elementary aged child who was “different” and drove his first grade teacher to dump the contents of his messy desk almost daily, a preschooler who was ready to move out and get her own apartment where she could make the rules, and a toddler who, while adorable, required constant monitoring as he was prone to do things like shove a screw driver in a wall socket or use it to poke holes in the back of the couch.
Plus, there were stalls to muck, chickens to feed, gardens overrun with weeds, and a living room with dark brown carpet that showcased every white dog hair, cracker crumb, and piece of fuzz from the slowly leaking couch cushions (per aforementioned holey couch). I worked two part-time ‘jobs’ – one as an awkward Mary Kay lady and one pitching articles to magazines who inevitably either declined them or offered to publish them for little or no compensation.
Top the whole life off with a husband who traveled to China for weeks at a time and when he was in the country spent the better part of every day in the office. Fun times.
Now wouldn’t YOU want to run away?
So, I did.
Every afternoon, during the two precious hours of ‘quiet time’ (Read: one child stuck in his crib next to a box fan running so I couldn’t hear his complaints and one child plopped in front of the TV for an endless loop of Dora the Explorer.) I would sit at my laptop and run away. Or at least, live vicariously through three moms who did exactly that. Dani, Meg, and Charlotte went away for a girls’ weekend and didn’t come back for 90,000 words.
The book literally spun out of me. It kept me sane. All those things I worried about – was I wasting my life home with kids? Would fears about my kids’ safety and sanity always rule my life? Did I marry the right person? Would my life ever “start?” I wrote through them.
Thirteen years later, my nest is beginning to empty. I’ve learned to love (some of these) backward people and even appreciate the small town that still has no real restaurants, and – my second novel, Girls’ Weekend is published!
It’s very hard to see past the yogurt smeared on the fridge and the sticky hands demanding your attention, but motherhood does get better. Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t run away, if only in your mind.
Being a mom and being a writer has been a win-win for me. The kids have provided me with plenty of writing material for articles, essays, blog posts, and fiction. And writing about them has documented our lives.
I imagine someday (hopefully very long from now) I will be a grandmother. My kids will finally respect the efforts I made at mothering well while following my writing dreams. And they will ask, “How did you do it?”
And I will tell them, “I wrote through it,” and hand them my laptop loaded with the stories of their lives.
Cara Sue Achterberg’s new novel, Girls’ Weekend, is the featured book on our “Currently Reading” page this month.
About the Author
Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Girls’ Weekend is her second novel. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a busy mom who teaches creative writing and whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com. You can also connect with Cara on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.