Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Gift of Time

by Hannah Roveto

My birthday came and went recently, accompanied by homemade cards hidden (surprise!) as usual under my placemat at breakfast, flowers from my husband, a cake from the supermarket chosen for maximum lusciousness by my chocoholic daughter, and dinner out a week later alone with my husband courtesy of my parents (during which said daughter did call to report what she'd done all day with Grandma and Grandpa before being put to bed at their house).

A special present is yet to come.

I sat my kids down and told them not what I want, but what I need most from them as we head into summer. I, too, am ready for less stress, later starting times to the day, a regular check on the quality and service at Dairy Twist, the smell of suntan lotion and bug spray and chlorine and sweat. I am not ready, or willing, or able, to lose Writer Time.

My manuscript will be in the hands of the group by month's end and barring fatal flaws, sent to agents soon thereafter. Thus, is the pressure off? Not a chance. I will still need to edit and polish, finalize my query letter, work at the back-office end of getting it ready and out the door.

Even when that happens, there is still no rest -- nor am I weary, in the least! Summer hits right as my WTBIN (Work-To-Be-In-Progress) screams into my ear, having waited patiently over the past several months for focused attention. Now is literally its time in the sun, and it and I cannot wait.

I explained to my kids that summer will run more smoothly for all if Mommy has Time. I need them to do a little more around the house. I need them to respect when I am on the phone and computer, and not just when I'm doing paid work (for which I have a separate but overlapping strategy to make time to do). Bottom line, however, is that Mommy on computer or sitting in corner with notebook plus quiet (low volume?) equals Mommy back to you faster -- and happier.

I will do my share. I've bought bottles of bubbles (for her) and new outdoor toys (for both). My son the videographer has a new greenscreen downstairs (Wal-Mart Arugula paint on a drop cloth). The promise of time at StarLand to play mini-golf and whatever else strikes their fancies awaits as a reward.

So, to follow on the themes of Drive and Tenacity and Moms Who Write, any other tips for creating Writer Time during the summer months? For giving oneself and persuading others to give you the Gift of Time? Bring 'em on!


Anonymous said...


I am so happy to hear other moms feel the need to continue with writing time during the summer. Initially, I was going to lock the office door for the summer but that left me feeling empty and unfulfilled. So my kids and I develped a plan. We get up and get going at our own pace and then head out for some summer fun (park, pool, library), pack a picnic lunch and go play. When we get back, the kid settle in with a favorite show or movie and I hit the office for a couple hours. And go figure - it is working! It feels balanced and everyone gets what they need.

Just found your blog and love it! Thank you.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

For a number of years, summer was the only time I could write (I was teaching high school English at the time) and I did some of the things you're doing--explaining that "mom needs this" and carving out a space. My best time was in the morning before they woke up . . . and then later in the afternoon when they were off on their adventures.

I think you have a great plan; keep us posted!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

The Summer Movie Festival is a great idea, Tiffany; glad you found us! My best time is morning, too, Judy, and once I have pushed forward, I can do it hit or miss in available time later. Since my kids wake up early but can be slow to rev up, now and then I could let them start with a movie; I'll snag a good chunk of time before the official work day, or depending on the schedule, we can be out by 10. I like that!


Amy MacKinnon said...

I'm going to hang this on my office door for my husband and kids to read. Do you think it will help?

Anonymous said...

Hi Hannah,
To carve out serious writing time, have you thought of calling your local high school/guidance dept? They often sponsor a Job Board for students... you might post a job for a "mother's helper" for just a few hours, twice a week. The student can bring the kids outside, run in sprinkler, draw w/sidewalk chalk, read stack of books, fix snack. Your student helper keeps the kids home and busy, so mom is close by, and you are comfortable w/your kids close, but being supervised while you work. Might also try advertising in your local paper. Hope this helps.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Joanne, that's a great idea. I am lucky enough to have my father-in-law in town to take the kids for a couple of chunks of hours. But... I dedicate that time to paid work, so I should look into a teen helper for my younger child (the older would be offended) for a few hours now and then. And, Amy? All I know is that at my house these things have to be plotted in secret, managed with stealth. Small gifts will be given, larger gifts of time must be maneuvered...!


Larramie said...

Hannah, do tell your children that in time that they'll be 100 x more proud because their help made your book a reality.

Sustenance Scout said...

Bribery, Hannah! :) Yes, I'm suggesting this to a parenting specalist, lol. :) I love Tiffany's idea and think that could work for us though I, too, am an early morning worker. Somehow I've managed to sleep in to 7:30 (gasp!) the past couple days. Enough of that! K.

Anonymous said...

There are so many good ideas here! I will never cease to be amazed at how interconnected this world is and how the Universe will give you the information and support you need just in time. Last night my husband commented on how tense I was acting. I explained to him that it was because I spent the day making oragami animals for our five-year-old son and that I hadn't written a word in four days.
Today is the first time I've visited you guys in at least two weeks. This entry is just what I needed!
Now I better get busy before the Boss comes and finds me. :)

Sustenance Scout said...

Woops, I mixed you up with Lynne again, Hannah! So sorry!

Megan P. I love your story. My son was "the Boss" when he was that age, too. You'll be amazed when he's suddenly 15! K.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

More than proud to be mixed up with Lynne; my motto in parenting is What Would Lynne Do? (And yes, Why Didn't I Just Do What Lynne Would Do?) You're right, Larramie -- they are already claiming a stake. My daughter keeps asking whether they are in the credits, and I answer, yes, but I need a book finished to have credits to offer... ahem... Megan, I feel the same way if I haven't written, and all the more when something is pushing to get out vs. being in the think it out phase. Five is tough, as those fine motor skills aren't there enough to start throwing the paper snowflakes type crafts at them. Modeling clay, however, is a great investment. (A crafty friend suggested flexible cutting boards as work spaces, which I heartily second.) Which reminds me, I need new modeling clay!