How writing makes me a better person

Eight minutes changed my whole day.

Between grocery shopping and preparing lunch for the kids, I had squeezed in a phone interview for an article I’m writing. Phone interviews were a daily part of the job when I worked for newspapers, but since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and sometimes-freelance writer, they’ve been rarer. Because predicting a time of day when the kids might offer me a few minutes of uninterrupted time to speak to another adult in a semi-professional capacity is about the same as picking winning lottery numbers. In this particular circumstance, I took a chance (and my husband was home and available to referee briefly as needed) and it paid off.

After I ended the call, I eagerly and willingly put the rest of the groceries away and engaged the kids in reading and play time before we sat down to lunch.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me, wanting to play with my kids doesn’t come easy. See, I’m a task person. I see a job that needs doing, and I do it. (Unless it’s washing dishes and then I ignore it for as long as possible.) I need activities to have purpose. Sometimes playing Barbies or taking a walk around the block at a snail’s pace seems pointless to me. And don’t get me started on seek-and-find books, which are my daughter’s absolute favorite right now.

Measuring productivity as a mom is hard. I know that playing with my kids, reading to them, taking walks and the like are all part of their development and do have purpose. It’s just that I can’t always see it. Which is why I often choose housework or errands over straight-out playtime.

Here’s what I’m learning, though. I was called to be a writer before God gave me children. I know that some moms feel called to their role. I’m not sure that I do. So when I have the chance to exercise my calling — a phone interview, writing an article, attending writers group, leading Bible study — I become a better wife and mom. Those things fill my tank and restore my sense of purpose. Being a mom is important work, and I know that. However, there’s more to me than my mom-ness.

While my husband’s been in seminary, he’s had one night class almost every semester. I’ve taken those nights as my writing/creative nights. Looking forward to that time helps me get through the cleaning, the picking up toys, the breaking up fights that encompass the rest of my day.

For me, writing is a need. When I don’t do it, I suffer and so does my family.

I learned in Sunday School this week (via video teaching from John Ortberg and Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy) that one of the best things you can do for the people around you is to take care of yourself. Writing is part of my self-care plan.

For you, it might be something different. Art. Youth group. Talking with a friend regularly. Volunteer work.

How does [fill in the blank] make you a better person?

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