I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger Jeannette Hanscome. Jeannette is a friend I met at Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference. She’s also a great writer, publishing three books for Focus on the Family. Check out her website here: http://www.jeanettehanscome.com/
Jeanette offers a lot of wisdom on her post. I can TOTALLY relate, and it gave me a lot to think about. Also, be sure to check out Jeanette’s post on my blog for Gen X Parents.
CLICK HERE, MOMMY
by Jeanette Hanscome
My almost-four-year-old son Nathan has a subtle way of telling me when I’ve been working at the computer too long. He enters my office, usually clutching one of his favorite books, stands beside me, watches me type away for a few minutes, then points to the top left-hand corner of my monitor—the corner where he has often seen me double click to close Word or exit the Internet.
“Click here, Mommy,” he says, sweetly at first, like it’s just a suggestion.
I am embarrassed to say that my typical response is, “Just a minute, Nathan.” That minute stretches into ten. So Nathan makes another attempt.
“Mommy, click here.” He leaves a fingerprint on the corner of my screen. Grrr! I just cleaned it!
I point to the small selection of toys in the corner of my office (like every good writer/mom my office doubles as a playroom). “Why don’t you build me a tower?”
I explain that Mommy has a deadline, as if her cares or knows the definition of deadline.
Desperate, he lays the book over my hands on the keyboard. Again he points, more insistent now, his tiny finger tapping the corner of the screen. “No. Click here. Here.”
Instead of the stereotypical devil on one shoulder and angel on the other, I hear a debate between two conflicting child psychologists, one chastising me for putting my career above the needs of my child and the other reminding me that Nathan is old enough to learn patience and respect for Mommy’s craft.
Finally, I call it quits for awhile, not because I want to, but because A) I feel guilty and B) I’m tired of having a Little Critter book shoved between my face and the screen.
It’s an endless battle.
The week before the Mount Hermon Writers Conference Nathan I went through several rounds of the “Click here” routine. Mount Hermon has been a highlight of my year since 1995. This time around, in addition to attending, I was teaching a workshop and had co-coordinated a “Buddy System” program for first-time registrants. My new devotional book, Want More? Joy came out that same week and I had to spread the news to all my friends and relatives. I knew that I was neglecting my family, Nathan especially, but it seemed justified at the time.
“After the conference Mom won’t be so overloaded,” my husband Norm reminded the kids and himself. I knew it wasn’t true. I would only get caught up in new deadlines and projects that I’d put off in order to prepare for Mount Hermon. I didn’t have it in me to admit that to them.
Two nights before I left for the conference, I sat on the couch with Nathan, a stack of Little Critter books on my lap. As soon as I finished reading All by Myself Nathan handed me I Was So Mad. I caught a glimpse of his face—total satisfaction. Whenever I moved, he snuggled closer to me, probably to prevent me from escaping. For the first time all week, I didn’t want our “Mommy and me” moment to end.
It hit me then that Nathan could care less if I ever wrote another article, devotional, or book. Why should he give a second thought to stories written for teen girls and adults? All he wanted was for me to stop long enough to read all five of his current favorite stories.
I thought back to the beginning of my writing journey, when I shared that typical new writer’s struggle—finding time to write and disciplining myself to work when I did have time. Now I have the opposite problem. I need to recognize when it’s time to discipline myself NOT to write.
It’s such a privilege to communicate what God has taught me, through stories, articles and devotions. But it is also an honor to have two amazing boys and a husband who loves me. So right now, God is teaching me how to properly balance the two, knowing that writing will always be here. Nathan, on the other hand, won’t always be around to say, “Click here, Mommy.”
Cara Putman says
Thanks for a great post. Perspective. My kids seem to know that if I’m not out and about in our house, the only place they have to look is at the computer. Yikes!
Amen! That’s what is so hard about having kids. I get so caught up in the things “I” want to do or can do. Especially now that my kids are a little older (9 & 7) and don’t depend on me so much for all the little stuff. When I first found myself with all this extra time (while they are playing and being BIG kids now) it didn’t take me long to fill it up. But, I realized that they need my time and attention just as much as when they were little. They are at the age when they will remember much of what happens beyond this point. They are starting to really view the world and form ideas about it and how they are to relate and fit in. It’s my job now to walk them through that process. To give them the tools and show them what love of and service to God looks like in the real world. I must be “here” with them in order to teach them. It’s easy to tell them to go play or “yes”, they can watch a movie, while I work (at home, at church, or at my part time job at home). I’ve said, “just a minute” and “not now”, more than I’d like to admit. It’s a little sad to think I only “have” my kids for about eighteen years. Out of a span of 80-100, it’s not a very long time. They are fun and they keep me fresh and in continual awe of God! I will miss the constant newness they bring once I’m not involved in the everyday details of their lives. God will have something else for me then. But for now I want to be present with them. I don’t want to forget that it is not about doing for God, but about “being” where He has placed me.
Tricia Goyer says
Thank you both for your comments. My kids are 16, 13, and 11 now and they STILL want my attention.
I have to make an effort to turn and make eye contact when they’re talking to me.
I also make time for board games, family dinners, and movie nights.
Whether they are 2 or 16 . . . they still want time with mom. And I’m thankful!
Julie Carobini says
Amen, Jeanette! After Mt. H, my three kids started their 2-week Easter break. Challenge, challenge, challenge! So far so good–I’m writing in those rare moments when they’re occupied with something or someone else. Otherwise, we’re on a walk, or bike ride, or fast food run–just trying to balance spending fun time with them while still writing away!