These past few weeks I’ve been having genuine ‘aha’ moments. Moments of revelation, moments of clarity and relief.
For the first time in my life, I am relieved that I do not have children – yet.
It is a discovery that I am very much surprised about.
I love kids. When I was in high school, I regularly babysat a 2-year-old baby named Delaine. I also looked after my Barnard cousins a couple of times when they were still small.
Every now and then, I volunteered at the children’s church (even though I did not enjoy it that much).
Kids like me; they talk to me, hug me, invite me on their little adventures.
I never thought seriously about having children until I reached my late twenties. All of a sudden, everyone my age was already married and having their first or second child. It was as if everyone started panicking about their ‘biological clock’. And so I would allow that same voice of fear speak to me as well:
Will I ever have kids?
When will I have kids?
Will I struggle to get pregnant?
Why don’t I have children yet?
Why am I not a mommy?
What is wrong with me?!
I have dreams of writing galore of written words. My files and folders are filled with extensive little nuggets that I still have to put in forms of screenplays, teen book series, short stories, novels, biographies, theatre plays, articles, prose, poetry, etc.
Where my creativity is concerned, there is no shortage of inspiration and ideas.
The problem with writing is the following:
It takes time.
Enid Blyton, a famous children’s author, typed up to 10,000 words per day. That’s 40,000 words per week, which means that she roughly wrote one book per week. In her lifetime she wrote over 762 books.
She was the mother of two girls, with whom she barely spent any time with. They resented her as adults and Enid died a lonely, old woman.
Wilbur Smith, the author of over 42 acclaimed novels, has traveled all over the world. Yet his own children want nothing to do with him. They are estranged and Wilbur hardly even mentions his children in his memoir On Leopard Rock.
My father prophesied over me when I was 12 years old. He said that I would one day be ‘a researcher and writer’. At the time it sounded so bland and well, blah. Researching and writing in a dusty, old room? Not for me!
I loved reading, though. The first real book that I picked up was Sweet Valley Twins’ Don’t Go In The Basement. I will never forget that book.I was hooked; I read all the Sweet Valley Twins series I could find.
I would later move on to the Maasdorp series, Saartjie series, Heartland series, Brio Girls series, as well as my personal favourite: the Nancy Drew series.
I also loved visiting the library; it was my favourite place in the whole world. I would go there every Saturday, rent my books for the week, finish reading them, then return the following Saturday. I even told my parents that I wanted to buy a house right next to the library…!
A few years ago, I was asked the questions ‘Who is your hero?’ and ‘Who did you want to be when you grew up?’
I had to think long and hard about these two questions. One morning I woke up and the answer to both questions hit me: Nancy Drew.
I wanted to be like Nancy when I was a kid: she was confident, secure, independent and full of adventure. She wasn’t scared to do things by herself and she was always off discovering and exploring new things.
I wanted to be Nancy Drew the investigator. I was sadly disappointed when I grew up and realized that there was not really such a job as an ‘amateur detective’.
Come to think of it, being a writer and researcher is a lot like being a detective. It is adventurous, although it is mostly in the imaginative sense, in the safety of your own seat.
My 4-year-old nephew, Johan, has been living with us for the last four months.
It has been wonderful and excruciating. Exciting and draining. Fun and tiresome. Amazing and frustrating.
In short: raising a kid for four months have been a rollercoaster of a ride.
There are so many different facets and avenues to raising a child. There’s making him food, taking him to school, bathing him, playing with him, disciplining him, getting him to bed, etc.
The hardest for me has been disciplining him and teaching him manners.
You have to be constant, stable, unwavering, continual, steady.
I lose my cool, I apologize, I learn, I retry.
It’s a never-ending cycle of a roller coaster ride.
It’s exhausting most of the time.
In-between all these things, I am trying to start writing again – no, I have already started again, but it’s a slow start.
Because with a kid it’s hard. You don’t really have the time.
You get interrupted, you get distracted, your day is full of kid things.
As artists, we tend to think that we need to wait for the blue moon, for inspiration and magic to strike when we want to create something awe-inspiring.
Christopher Paolini said, ‘Inspiration strikes about once every blue moon.’
I am learning how to write by the regular old moon. I have the inspiration and ideas, but there is unfiltered chaos in-between.
I am grateful for the time I have now as a single person, without a husband or a child. That time will come, but meanwhile, I am learning how to mother and write at the same time through a 4-year-old little guy named Johan.
I am grateful for the time I have now.
I am learning how to write by the regular old moon.