The Motherhood Muse literary magazine was created by Kimberly Zook, a writer-editor-SAHM. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with other parents and writers, Kimberly shares with us today a look into a typical day of hers to show us how much The Motherhood Muse means to her.
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A Day in the Life of a Writer-Editor-Stay-at-Home-Mom
Since adding the title “editor” to my every growing job description of SAHM, military wife, writer, naturalist, artist, teacher, and life-long learner, I often get asked the same question: “How do you do it? How do you manage to publish The Motherhood Muse literary magazine?”
It’s definitely not accomplished by the stroke of midnight. I pluck away at it during nap time (if I am lucky enough for one to occur) and at night (while my husband watches a movie downstairs all by himself). But I don’t do it alone. My column writers and editor assistant/short story writer are the heart of this magazine. The only answer I have for this question is “A little at a time.”
Here’s my “a little at a time” in a day:
At 5:18a.m. my 10-month-old daughter Grace ‘awakes’ after waking up every 1-2 hours during the night, wanting to nurse as she is cutting her 4th tooth. My husband brings her to our bed before heading off to work and I cuddle with my daughter, reading books and singing songs, until 6:10a.m. when my almost three-year-old daughter Ayla wakes up, shouting “Mama, Wake UP Mama, WAKE UPPPPP!”
We stumble through diaper changes, but Ayla’s shrieks and loud “AHHHHHs” to keep her pajamas on win me over. I look over at Grace to find her chewing on Ayla’s slinky. Ayla insists I carry all three of her blankets, her two pillows, and Shark and Puppy downstairs with us. We pad down the stairs to our kitchen, where I welcome the rising sun through our windows as Ayla starts to spin and twirl. All 22 pounds of my baby swings around in my arms as Grace lunges for every food item I hold as I prepare breakfast.
By 7:00 a.m. Ayla is desperate to watch Veggie Tales or Beauty and the Beast. Grace is content to delve into the toy bin while I pull out my laptop to check my email. First the personal one and then the five accounts I have for The Motherhood Muse. I get excited about the two new submissions in my Inbox, but Grace ambles over to the stairs and begins the ascent so I quickly close my laptop to follow her up the steps.
“Hairplane Mama!” Ayla shouts around 7:30, getting up from the couch to run upstairs to our family room. By the time I turn off the movie, wipe down the drool-soaked toys and help Grace walk up the stairs for the fifth time, Ayla has turned our family room couch inside out with cushions and pillows on the floor. She has piled her bedding into the “airplane” and is navigating it through the sky. Grace growls with a big grin, bouncing up and down to join in on the fun.
I love airplane. Ayla is content to pretend play as a pilot for an hour. By 8:30 Ayla is ready for a snack and Grace is ready for a nap. After a snack of Shrek string cheese and Trader Joe’s freeze dried blueberries, Ayla plays KidZui on my laptop while I put Grace down for her nap. I pop upstairs to my bedroom/office to get dressed and jump on my computer. I open the latest working copy of issue #3, due out in July, and work on the first essay I have put in the layout: adjusting columns to make room for images and creating the artwork in Photoshop. After about 20 minutes, however, my mind begins to feel guilty about leaving Ayla alone, so I go downstairs only to find her immersed in counting with Dora (one of the many games she loves to play on KidZui).
I sneak a chocolate Easter egg from the kitchen before reassembling the couch in the family room. Ayla hears me and bolts up the stairs, skipping into the family room singing “Shake it Baby, Shake it!” It’s 9:30 and Grace wakes up.
“Ayla!” I say, “Let’s go to Barnes and Noble. We’ll get you a steamed soy milk, and I’ll look at books.”
“No! Stay HOME!” she shouts.
I spend the next 40 minutes wrestling the girls into clothes. Before we leave I have to sit down as my vertigo hits me. It’s like a small earthquake inside my head and less than a minute later it stops.
The rest of the morning flies by as I sit on the floor of the bookstore, reading Star Wars books to Ayla (her choosing) while Grace giggles and claps from the stroller. We return home before noon for a lunch consisting of Beefaroni and cucumber (for Ayla), baby food beef (for Grace), and leftover rice and beans with guacamole for me. For ten minutes after lunch I throw a small multi-colored parachute over my daughers’ heads, laughing at their complete giddy enrapture of the flying colors, before we head upstairs for nap time! My favorite time. My time to work.
Both girls are in their rooms (Grace sleeping, Ayla reading books) for one hour. It’s a good day. Most days I only get 20-40 minutes of work time. I settle into my chair and type away on the computer.
First, I open Issue #3 and determine what artwork I need to create for the next essay. I scan images on iStockphoto and download one. Using Photoshop I manipulate it slightly and upload it to the issue. I hear a short cry and get up to check on the girls in the video monitor. Grace is stirring. Ayla is singing with her head down on her bed and her bum up in the air.
I return to my computer. I check my main work email and reply to two inquiries regarding the blog tour before searching for advertisers. I find eight possible organizations or companies who might consider advertising in the magazine and send them all an email. It’s 1:30p.m. and Grace wakes up crying.
I sigh, sad to leave my computer just as I’m getting into my work, but anxious to see my two girls. Grace’s room reeks of a messy diaper, which I change as Ayla starts shouting “Open the door Mama!” from under her bedroom door. As I approach Ayla’s door I am hit with yet another cloud of poopy-smell. I open the door cautiously to find Ayla on the floor, smearing a poopy diaper on the hardwood floor.
“Ayla, I just cleaned the floor. That’s a no-no. I’ve told you this before.” The next 30 minutes consists of scrubbing the floor, bathing Ayla, and dressing Ayla. This is followed by vitamins and a snack (for Ayla) and more chocolate (for me).
By 3:00 we are heading out the door for the playground. I write in my head as I dig in the sandbox with my daughters. I rewrite as I push them on the swings. And I plot out a chapter of the story I’m working on as I sit on the grass with Grace while Ayla runs around kicking a ball. Most of these writing ideas that take place in my head are forgotten by the time I pick up a pen and paper, but it’s practice nevertheless.
We’re home by 4:45 after stopping by McDonald’s to get chicken nuggets for Ayla and an iced coffee for me. I start preparing dinner while Ayla jumps on her trampoline in the family room and Grace sits in the highchair eating puffs. My husband calls around 5:30 saying he has to work late, so I turn the oven down and join Ayla in the family room. We dance to Miley Cyrus, play with her dollhouse, show Grace how to brush a doll’s hair, and read more books.
It’s 6:15 when my husband arrives home, taking Grace from my arms and kisses us all. I put dinner on the table and by 6:50 we start the girls’ bath. Ayla and Grace reach out for one another and scrub each other’s tummy. Love washes over me as I watch them. After my husband is done bathing them I nurse Grace and put her to bed as my husband reads books and sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to Ayla.
It’s 7:30 p.m. and my time to work has finally begun! I settle into my chair and pull up an essay I’ve been writing. It’s a stream of consciousness draft and I read through it. I continue where I left off and write for 30 minutes. Then I open my email and read the two submissions I received earlier in the day. I like both but need time to think about them before writing back to the authors. From 9 to 10 I work on the layout for Issue #3: inserting more text from essays, poems, and short stories – trying to make them all fit on the page without too much empty space leftover. I pull up the author’s bios and copy them into the layout.
At 10:00 p.m. my husband comes upstairs, asks me how my works is coming along and I close out the computer. My husband is one of the lucky ones who can fall asleep in less than five minutes. I lay in bed, however, thinking about the young adult novel I am writing – imaging the lives of the two main characters – for 40 minutes. Just as I begin to drift off to sleep I hear Grace crying on the baby monitor. I roll out of bed and go to her room to nurse her. The night has just begun.