My daughter just started kindergarten, and my son’s in school. Sometimes I have after school babysitters or after school care, but it’s complicated. Ideally, they’d both have enough and not too much care other than me—ideally, someone else would shuttle them to activities some of the time (other than my husband and me). So I guess I’m happy some of the time and frustrated sometimes by not having enough time to work, or the usual guilt for not being there for everything. Honestly, more time to work yells louder, but the kids will get older and need me less, and there will always be things to write.
How do you split up your responsibilities at home with your husband?
We really used to be 50-50 when we both had jobs and no kids. Now I’m the cook, and I do more of the childcare, but he does more than your average dad, I’m quite sure. I think every couple could use an extra mom to help with stuff (extra dad, extra wife), but it’s temporary, the heightened need.
Has having children affected your career path?
I think I would work more in things other than writing if I didn’t have children—more teaching, more freelance editing and nonfiction (both of which I don’t mind editing out of life). I was always a kid person—I used to teach after school and daycare when I was in high school and college—so I like having some of that energy (never enough) and time with my own kids. You know—art projects and weather stations and woods walks. Honestly, the main compromise is not working as much as I might like, but it’s not a bad compromise in this particular field, and I manage to write quite a lot, considering. Maybe the time pressure helps.
What are some things you are not perfect about?
House stuff. I am not a window treatment woman. I have painted many rooms in the house and not beautifully. I hate piles of papers and books but create them nonetheless. And of course I always, always wish I had more patience, no matter how much is generated by the mommy-patience organ (is it the uterus? Or the hips? There’s something that produces patience and guilt in ridiculous quantities when you have children.
How do you de-stress and relax?
The gym, and singing. I trained as an opera singer and worked as one briefly. I never had the drive needed to be a professional singer, but I love to sing with other people—what joy!
Do you have any working mom guilt?
Some days I successfully put it in my pocket and hope it’ll get lost in the laundry. Some days I just have to give it to my characters. Either way, I have a feeling it’s a particular hunger you just have to feed from time to time—with the indulgence of that “hi Mom!” hug at the end of the day.
Tell us about your new book, The Other Mother. What inspired you to write it?