In the world of “Self-Care”, you’re told to put yourself first.

On an airplane, parents are told, “Put your mask on first.”

Even in motherhood, you’re advise to put yourself first sometimes.

I am a mother who is trying to be a writer. I have two different works-in-progress open on my computer as a type this.

“Prioritize your writing.” I read from everywhere.

I looked to other writers, published writers with careers and best sellers, who prioritized writing. “It’s hard, but you can do it.”

And I’m trying. I’m trying to make it a priority and make other people see it’s a priority.

But I have Maura too.

Yes, that sounds like an excuse. “Stop making excuses Phoebe and Just Do It!”

Sure. Are you going to watch Maura while I just do it? Because if you aren’t, then I need you to stop. Currently, I have exactly four people who’ll let me prioritize me sometimes and take charge of Maura, and they all share my last last name.

My reality is that Maura will always have times where she is top of my list. I have to keep an eye on her when she’s awake. I can’t shut myself in a room, leaving her to wander. I can’t ever leave her home alone. My writing hours are when she’s at school and when she’s asleep, and so much of her school hours are filled with my own appointments and errand running that I lose a lot of writing time.

This is our lifestyle – Maura gets to be first so much of my time. Heck, I make sure she gets her food first at dinner before I get my own.

But it’s not just her needing my attention – even when she’s doing her own thing, I have to be aware of her. I have to be somewhat present. It’s hard to lost yourself in writing when one ear must be open. And that ear is getting bombarded with the latest Disney movie soundtrack. On repeat. Of just one song.

My sister was visiting last week, and made a comment about how it really is hard for me to get stuff done because I am constantly interrupted once Maura’s home. And it’s true. My life is a series of interruptions. Pausing what I am doing to open something, zip up a dress, get a snack.

There is no writing advice for trying to be a writer while raising a child with an intellectual disability. I’ve tried to find it, but I can’t. And that seems so discouraging.

And yet, despite the constant interruptions, despite the lack of ability to put myself on a strict schedule, despite the limitations on my time, I am still moving forward. I am still managing to produce work, even if no one else is seeing that work.

I don’t resent the time Maura takes from me. She needs me and I am her mom. It’s as simple as that. And Maura is always so appreciative of what I do for her. She is also patient when I ask her to wait one or five minutes. She’s doing her best to work with me. I appreciate that.

I just need a housekeeper and five more hours to my day. And maybe the ability to once in a blue moon, bitch that I don’t have enough free time without some well-meaning person telling me how I just need to prioritize things. My priorities have to be different than yours. That’s just how my life works.

PS – housework? That’s way lower on the list. So excuse the pile of clean laundry on the couch. I’ve got a book to finish revising and a daughter to take care of. But feel free to fold that laundry if you want 😀

[Image description – a woman with long brown hair, head hanging down, sitting half in, half out of a light blue industrial dryer] Photo by Victoria Palacios on Unsplash