Keeping On, Pressing Through

Living life balanced between reality and dreams

Mama-hood. Wow. What a ride, and my two are only three and one. I’ve got my hands full just like any other woman out there who call themselves mom, mother, mommy, mama… A common question I hear echoing all over the place: how do we do it?

How do we:

  1. Find the time to stay sane
  2. Balance everything
  3. Pursue a career
  4. Be the best mama we can be
  5. Keep the household running smooth
  6. Maintain relationships
  7. Help others
  8. [insert your dreams, plans, etc]

Taylor Stevens, New York Times Bestselling Author

This weekend I attended a writer’s workshop. It was great to see my friends again and meet some new writers. I was hoping this weekend would speak to me, somehow. I was hoping I’d break out of this funk, be encouraged, find some awesome thought to keep me keeping on. Maybe I just need more coffee. Ha!

Anyway, I got to meet Taylor Stevens, author of The Informationist & The Innocent. Two more books to add to my to-read list. 🙂 It was great to hear her perspective on writing and publishing, and her journey to publication. And you know what? She had kids at home while she pursued her dream as well as J. K. Rowling, Morgan L. BusseKat Heckenbach, Rebecca P. Minor, and Diane M. Graham. And I keep finding more and more…

There are countless others out there working away at their dreams while being a mom with young kiddos like my friends: Gabrielle Meyers, Kessie Carroll, or like Lynn Donovan who is loving on her grand-babies and caring for her mom and sister. And then there are a bunch of moms who homeschool and pursue their dreams like Cathi-Lyn Dyck, who is also a  freelance editor as well.

So, we can do it. We can balance life while pursuing our dreams and goals. How? I’m sure it has something to do with commitment, diligence, discipline, and a touch of insanity all the while keeping our priorities straight. Perhaps I need to go back and read my own post on Motivate Thyself. Ha!

So what do you do when you get discouraged? Do you take a break or push through it? Or both?

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20 thoughts on “Keeping On, Pressing Through

  1. C.L. Dyck says:

    Yeah…I don’t really have good answers for that, except that there is no one answer. It depends on the needs of the moment.

    Sometimes I have to push through and try not to feel guilty or resentful about the position I’m put in, because otherwise they simply do not understand that they’re taking my entire life and person, and I can’t let them unbalance me like that.

    Even a woman’s most-loved people (or perhaps primarily her most-loved people) don’t have the right to do that, and need to recognize it–though they usually have to be taught it, the same as children’s manners, and which of a man’s shirts clash horribly with his trews.

    And then sometimes I have to back off and try not to feel guilty or resentful, because I can’t let the work unbalance me like that. It’s not allowed to take all my sleep, all my patience, or all my mental energy.

    This article has become a lodestar to me:

    http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/2778/on-discipline

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Good thoughts! So basically, teaching our kids to value us as a person, because they don’t understand it yet…hmm…boundaries…

      The post, On Discipline, was excellent. I can totally relate about focusing on one thing and the rest just falls apart. ha! But then they said one’s life was either disciplined or not…I know I have been faced with a choice: “guard my writing time” or allow interference, and many times I have chosen the interference, because I have felt time with people was more important than my writing. Carving out the time…I’ve done it, I do it and it is a constant battle, I guess it comes down to how we value ourselves and our dreams. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m asking, is it worth it…I’m sure I’ll work through it and come out saying yes.

      Thanks for getting the word out. I really appreciate it.

      • C.L. Dyck says:

        “So basically, teaching our kids to value us as a person, because they don’t understand it yet…hmm…boundaries…”

        I’m not sure in my case if “teach” is the right word, or if “glare silently at intruder” is a better fit. But, my kids aren’t little anymore either. I started writing with Babe #4 in arms, to fill long evenings when my husband’s shifts left me alone. It was a different scenario, for sure.

        As to the wholly disciplined life, I do think flexibility is a personal discipline as well.

        “Thanks for getting the word out. I really appreciate it.”

        No problem. I was like, “hey cool, I know a bunch of these people!” 🙂

      • J. L. Mbewe says:

        I totally agree with being flexible… I think we gotta roll with the punches…shoot from the hip…internalize our calling/goals/mission/etc and from it our decisions are made. I have found creating a strict schedule not conducive to family life…I grab time where I can, but that also means, I have to be mentally on top of things. ha! 🙂

      • C.L. Dyck says:

        It’s the “mentally on top of things” part that gets me every time. 🙂 As soon as my energy runs low, no schedule on earth will keep things chugging along. Human limitations are such a nuisance. 🙂

  2. Diane Graham says:

    I stumble through, if I am completely honest. Stubbornly and and purposefully, but stumbling all the same. I once wrote a blog about being a beautiful mess and how God has to be working in my life or not a thing would get done. Awfully wonderful of you to include me in this list. 😀

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Stumbling, stubbornly and purposefully. I like that. I think I’ll go simmer on that one. I will have to check out your blog about the beautiful mess…it seems vaguely familiar. The link, C.L. included was great. It talked about creative discipline is tied into our spiritual discipline. Something for me to think on. Thanks for sharing!

      Your welcome. 🙂

  3. Kat Heckenbach says:

    Well, first, thanks for the shout-out :). Yes, I have kids at home. I think I got lucky with timing. My kids were young enough that our homeschooling hadn’t gotten so intensive yet, and old enough that they could play together and actually wanted to play independently. They didn’t mind so much that mommy was on the computer an awful lot.

    Balance is getting a bit harder, though, these days. I’m not just writing now. I’m editing for other authors at my publishing house, and doing some cover art stuff, and the kids’ homeschooling is ramping up as they are getting older (4th and 7th grade now).

    Fortunately, they both really understand how much writing means to me. And my husband is very supportive. So I simply try to pay attention to any signs that they really need me. For example, my son was begging for me to play board games with him the other day. So I dropped everything and played. One thing I’ve found is that carving out some time to spend with the kids and my husband is imperative. And if I put that as a priority, I’ll be repaid with time to write later on.

    Great post, btw! Yes, a touch of insanity helps :).

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Thanks Kat! I think we all have to have a touch insanity to pursue our dreams. Sometimes, it seems we must go against the flow to achieve them.

      Being more purposeful with the time we are spending with the kiddos is a great idea…my kiddos are my priority, we play tickle-kiss & read lots of books. Life is filled with seasons and I’m learning to adjust with each one. Then, when I finally get it, it changes. Ha!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  4. I don’t know where the balanced people are. I’m not among them. If anyone asks, I usually say I don’t “have a life”. I am alive. I am a mother. I attend church sporadically. I did homeschool my first 3 children, but the youngest is in public school. Taking homeschooling out of the mix gave me considerably more time and mental energy, but I still wrote even when I was homeschooling and working 30 hours a week outside the home, just not nearly as much as I would have liked.

    I don’t really have a social life or many friends outside of Facebook. I don’t put much stock in housecleaning, therefore I don’t spend as much time on it as lots of other women I hear about. The greater question for me is: how to make myself care at all about mundane things like dishes in the sink and dirty laundry when there is an utterly exciting chapter just itching to be written. All it would take is one look at my house to see what usually wins.

    You asked “what do you do when you get discouraged?” I think there has rarely been a time when I *wasn’t* discouraged. I feel like I am on a treadmill, running like crazy, but never getting anywhere. I sometimes get off the treadmill to have a cry and whine about how much I hate the treadmil. Unfortunately, staying off the treadmill doesn’t get me anywhere either. So, for no other reason but that I must be insane, I keep getting back on the darned treadmill. If you find you CAN let go, you’ll probably be much less discouraged in the long run if you DO let go. Get off if you can. And if you can’t, welcome to the club of the crazy and UNbalanced.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hi Caprice, thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel unbalanced and crazy. Ha! As far as housekeeping duties…wow, that’s a whole other issue for me. I’m really an oxymoron when it comes to house cleaning. I hate messes, but I’m messy. As I’ve gotten older, I have found a little OCD cropping up. 🙂 I try to keep up with basics but let the rest slide.

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Although my children are older, I’m one of those who homeschools and writes. God has been good and I’ve seen my first novel published, with the promise of two sequels to follow, but finishing the second book within a timeframe while schooling, raising three teenagers, and dealing with everything that goes along with motherhood has been a struggle, and at times, has seemed like an impossibility. But God has been reminding me that He’s a God of miracles, and He can handle the impossible.
    As far as practical things, scrapbooking is a stress-reliever for me (although I need to watch that I don’t take too much “therapy” :O) Prayer helps, as does encouragement from others (like when people tell me they can’t wait to read my next book). But when push comes to shove, I have to pull out the computer and just write…and trust God to be faithful to provide the inspiration I need to complete what He has called me to do.
    Speaking of which…I need to get back to revising book two.
    Thank you for this article and the reminder that I’m not alone.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hi Suzanne, thanks for stopping by! I love playing around with scrapbooking, but its been years since I’ve done anything. Drawing, painting, anything artsy and creative helps to relieve me. I need to bring that back into my life on a regular basis. It’s funny, really. It’s at the back of my head, “draw”, “paint” and I’m like no, I’ve gotta do this…I think Camp NaNo screwed up my rhythm. 🙂 Ha. Also, you mentioned finishing the second book in a time frame, I think that was one of the sands that tipped the scales for me. After this weekend & a rough couple of days with the kiddos, the deadline thing kind of freaked me out a bit. Ha… and do not worry about tomorrow, for today is enough trouble. (my paraphrase 🙂 )

      I have found motherhood to be the biggest challenge ever. but that’s a whole other issue right there. 🙂 I was soooo naive. Before I had kids, I was like I want teach them three languages, the piano, etc…and now I’m like let’s just get the basics down first. 🙂

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share. I appreciate it. I hope all goes well with your revisions.

  6. I have to agree, that balanced is–in a way– too much to ask. It’s more like just choosing which water balloons to keep in the air and which I will let go “splat.” Sometimes they land and bounce, sometimes I need to fill another balloon, to stretch the metaphor to death. 😉

    At my current phase of life, I am outside the home working 48 hours a week (accounting for my commute) and it has made writing a huge challenge. It makes me very grateful I did not sign multi-book contracts with either of my series, because I know I would not be able to produce within a quick publisher turnaround. I am thankful that God knew what my situation would be.

    My children, I fear, are getting a much smaller snippet of my time than I would prefer, but in exchange, they are getting more of dad, which is not a bad thing at all. The support structure within the family is crucial if a mom is going to write.

    As for discouragement, I let myself take a few days off if I need to, then I tuck my chin down and bull back in. The past year of my life has taught me that 500 words is better than none. I have to make peace with the fact that this is what life allows. Some days are easier than others to keep that truce, for sure.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hi Rebecca! I like your metaphor. And so many times I have had to let the balloons go splat and go make new ones. The idea of a multi-book contract and being on a deadline makes me nervous…but then I’m trying to live tomorrow’s challenges in today’s strength. Trust. How easy is it for us to be like Peter and take our eyes off the Lord and look at the mighty storm around us. It’s a good reminder that God’s hand is guiding our steps.

      Thanks for sharing! I really appreciate it.

  7. Lots of advice here, and not sure if I have more to add 🙂 Keep God, then family, then writing a priority, in that order. After watching lots of ministry families fall apart or crack at the seems, my husband made the commitment not to have our children grow up saying the church took their daddy away. I came to realize I needed that same commitment: not to have my children grow up and say writing took their mommy away.

    Practically, that meant I wrote only during naps and during the evening. Now that my kids are in school, I have more writing time. It also means I don’t write 2-3 books a year. I can do one book, and that’s it.

    In a couple years, I might not be a writer anymore. But I will always be a wife and mother until death. And I want to leave a legacy that will live beyond me. My writing may or may not live beyond me, but my family will. And so I will invest accordingly.

    Thanks for tagging me 🙂

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Your welcome Morgan and thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I agree. Right now, all I have is nap time and evenings after the kids are in bed. I value my sleep too much to try to sacrifice that, otherwise, I would have a harder time keeping the bear tamed. ha! Seasons.

      I’d hate to think of the day that I might not be a writer anymore, it has been such an important part of me through the years, keeping my sanity as a youth, and hoping to make a career out of it now. But you’re right.We are forever a mama…It’s good to keep things in perspective, which, I think, gives us the balance we need. Perspective, priorities, & trusting God.

  8. Balance is a word I don’t like to claim. I want it, but I feel like I live on a teeter totter. Sometimes one end flies up in the air and I pass through “balance” for about 5 min and then things swing the other way. I figure as long as the teeter totter keeps moving and every body gets to fly high at some point, then when our rear end hits the ground hard once in a while, we know we’ll be back up in the sky again soon. Up and down and up and down – so when we pass through that horizontal place where everything is perfectly balanced, we can take a breath and realize it’s all good–it’s just not always comfortable.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hi Jennifer, I like the teeteer-totter concept, much better than a roller coaster ride in that perhaps we have bit of control over the up and downs, perhaps… and its a good reminder to take it in stride and life isn’t always comfortable.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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