Giving Myself Permission To Be A Kid

300003aLast summer I was under deadline to finish a book. This past fall I signed a new contract that kept me busy through April. Then in May I got the bright idea to submit a story for a collection whose deadline was ridiculously too close for comfort. Deadlines = stress. They also create a crazy writer mom – just ask my kids. Sure, they love when I order pizza for dinner. But they prefer to eat that pizza with a loving, snuggling mother, not a distracted animal who may or may not bite.

I had planned to write a Christmas anthology over the summer. A self-imposed deadline this time. I also have three different series at various stages of plotting, inside my head. It can wait. It can all wait. My ideas aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the longer I wait, the more insistent they will become to jump out of my head and onto the screen. Anticipation can be a good thing.3000038

Instead of writing this summer, I am giving myself permission to take these precious few weeks off. I’m going to spend time with my kiddos. I’m going to look at life through their eyes. Yeah, I’ll still do laundry and cook dinner. Can’t get away from some adult responsibilities. And I’ll take advantage of other adult perks–like being able to drive us to our next adventure.WP_20150621_003

I think we’ve gotten off to a great start. We’ve created fairy gardens for the front yard. We built a sand castle and discovered a hermit crab and some freaky gelatinous substance that may or may not have been alive. We’ve charted new trails at the park that must be explored. We rode the Ferris Wheel on the Seattle waterfront. And we went out for ice cream.icecream

The kids are signed up for some summer camps. Last year I would have used this time to hole up in a coffee shop and write my heart out. This year I’m recharging my creative batteries. I have no idea WHAT I’ll do with my free time. But it will be relaxing and fun and something that I can look back on once I’m in my writing groove with fond memories, knowing I made great use of my time. A blanket, my Kindle and a quiet trail in the woods – perfect! Watching the dog stick her head out the car window in absolute bliss while we go for a summer drive – even better!

When the kids go back to school and I go back to work, the creative juices will be flowing. I’ll have all kinds of new memories to be able to use in one of my books someday. And maybe I won’t take on quite so many writing projects for the following school year. Because, like my children, I’m not a big fan of Crazy Writer Mom either.

How about you? What are your big plans for this summer? Anything that is making your inner child jump up and down with glee?

Counting Down To Summer Vacation-Can We Stop The Clock?

Help Button“Mommy, how many days until we get out of school for the summer?”

Pshhh, ages and ages. I check the calendar. Less than six weeks. Okay, don’t panic. Don’t let them see you’re scared. Where the heck did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was doing the ‘back-to-school’ dance all through my blissfully empty house.

Back in September I had just submitted a book proposal to my publisher. I had a clear cut schedule of the days I would write, my day to volunteer in the kids’ classrooms and a day to run errands. I had everything neatly written in a calendar. I had a system. I had a plan.But once the kids get out of school for the summer, my plan gets turned on its ear and I need to push myself that much harder to get my word count in each day.summermeme

Now don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my kids. I’m a little obsessive about getting out of the house with them and making memories that they’ll be able to share with their own children some day. My own mother suffered from agoraphobia while I was growing up. This meant that she preferred to remain in the safety and comfort of her own home. It meant my sisters and I had to look for things to occupy us within our neighborhood. We couldn’t afford summer camps. One week out of the summer, our friends’ mom would drive us each morning to bible camp. So when my kids start to utter a whiny “I’m bored”, I probably take it a little too personally.

Last year I spent a lot of time tweaking and scheduling so that I had camps lined up for both littles–at exactly the same time. Makes sense, right? I actually got a decent amount of writing in that summer. This year I went with a different approach. I consulted the kids and let them choose the summer camps they wanted to attend, not giving a flip whose landed on what week. So, while most weeks are filled with some sort of camp (mostly of the three hour variety), only one week has them going at the same time. Which means that I’ll drop one child off for a fun day or afternoon filled with activities, socialization and some sort of take home craft to display, and one child will remain with me…bored.kidsbeingbored

Which brings me back to the ‘pushing myself’ bit. And the obsessive mom trying to make sure her kids are having fun. I wish I could say that I am flexible enough to write whenever. Midnight, and the rest of the house is asleep? No problem! But my creative brain turns on about six AM and turns off about…aw heck, five PM. So yeah, I’ll be the dork mom on the playground, sitting at the picnic table with my laptop, hoping that if my child falls off the equipment, they can drag themselves over and somehow pull me out of my scene in order to let me know we need to pack up and head to the emergency room. I’ll get hateful looks from the involved moms who remembered to pack snacks, apply sunscreen and actually chat among themselves. But the alternative is forcing my kid to find something to do at home, which gives me mommy-guilt hives that I refuse to deal with. It’s a trade off.

Will I do this every single weekday during the summer months? Heck no! They’re only young once. Just as I get obsessed about needing to fulfill my word count, I also dig in my heels and find excuses not to write. If the weather is gorgeous, I’ll pack ’em up and head to the beach. Maybe take a ferry ride across the sound. Ice cream is always a great way to make summer memories, especially if we’ve had to drive a bit to get to someplace we’ve never tried before. The zoo is always a favorite destination. All work and no play makes a dull mom. And I may come out of it with another book, but I’ll have lost the memories my kids spent making with everyone else. It’s all about striking a balance. I’m trying to let the kiddos take the reins this year and hoping that we all get what we want out of this summer vacation. And trying not to panic.

I need to embrace this quote, this summer.

I need to embrace this quote, this summer.